“And when they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”This sentence describes Peter, James and John after having had a strange and wonderful experience on Mount Tabor - having seen the Lord transfigured before them. This verse strikes me as a fitting caption for the photos of our postulants on the day of their investiture. They too have been selected to "come up a high mountain apart.” (Lk 17:1) Having felt a call from God, having tested it by living our way of life for a year, these four young women arrived at the day of investiture with an eager desire to go forward - following Jesus wherever He may be leading – even if Mount Tabor is inner-city Bronx, NY.
Transfixed on Jesus in His Eucharistic disguise, they knelt before Him to give up a regular life in the world and to give in to His invitation to follow Him. What wells up in the heart of a woman who has perceived the summons of God; who is being invited into deeper communion with a Divine Person? The mystery of God's desire for us can only provoke awe and amazement. The more it is accepted, the less it is understood. That God can yearn is mystery enough - that His thirst is for us is beyond reason or understanding. When a person perceives that she is the object of this desire and the "Amen, Yes. So be it." eventually rises to the surface of her mind and heart so that at last she is able to say "Yes, I will be the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word." It is then that she embarks on a journey of romance and adventure, one of combat and battle, of sacrifice and death and of fruitfulness and life - even unto life eternal, if she will be faithful.
And so, with hair shorn, and clothed in the Holy Habit, (both wedding gown and battle array) down the mountain they come - and into the novitiate. With two years of intense preparation for vows before them, life in a quiet novitiate may not seem to be a romantic, battle ridden, mystery adventure at first glance.
The stillness of their hours in the chapel, the simple work of cleaning and cooking, the studying and singing and serving all oriented toward our Divine Bridegroom - with Him, In Him, Through Him. Supernatural romance. Praying with Saint Francis "Who are you O Lord, and who am I?" and as they gaze upon Christ, discovering Him and in Him discovering themselves in their truest identity as beloved children of the Father, heirs of the Kingdom and chosen for an especially close following of Jesus Christ, Mystery into mystery. As for the battle, it is waged against ourselves - getting up to pray when we'd rather sleep in, smiling when we’d rather groan, serving when we don't feel able. Saint Francis reminds us that our worst enemy is our own lower nature. And so it is a battle to decrease that Christ may increase in us. Sounds like hard labor, doesn’t it? To labor in love yields life.
And so our novices have undertaken the journey of deeper prayer, purer virtue to be ever more clear reflections of Christ so that they will be able to make their vows with joy and be sent forth ready to bring the Light into the darkest corners – even unto the ends of the earth.
(l-r) Sr. Agnes Holtz, Novice Directress; Sr. Guadalupe Magdalena Gonzalez; Sr. Ruth Therese Myrick; Sr. Mercy Faustina Bohacik; Sr. Kelly Francis Oslin; Sr. Clare Matthiass, Community Vicar and Postulant Directress; Sr. Lucille Cutrone, Community Servant.