04 September 2011

Present at a monastic profession

Today I was present for a monastic profession into the Franciscan order. Five years ago I don't think I could have imagined that this might be part of my life, sitting in a church filled with 40+ nuns and monks, as well as at least 3 Catholic congregations, being allowed to witness this moment in someone's life. And here I was invited, as both I and Matthijs know the deeply caring and gentle man who has taken this fitting step.

When I went to congratulate him, he told me that he was glad to be joining me on the journey of the religious life, and he named me by my official title - zuster Brenda. And I wasn't sure what to say to that: because my journey in the religious life is such that I am now giving up my title of zuster, and I'm not sure if that is only temporary.

And yet, religious life, and the journey that is part of it, is not limited to a title. My journey on the religious life began a long time ago: from a desire to help others given to me by my family, to morning prayer in college, to liturgical services and visits to St Gregory's Abbey during Seminary, to a strong desire to follow God as much as possible, to moving into the 'new' (open) monastic community here. And even before moving to Amsterdam, I had looked into what it meant to be a member of the Confraternity at St. Gregory's Abbey, thinking that when (if?) I moved back to North America, this might be a good fit for me. There was something about the daily prayers - and the mixture of prayer and work - that attracted me. And it is an attraction that has not yet let me go, nor has the desire to reach out to others and showing love in a practical way. And the desire to live a crazy passionate life for God is still there, even if it has been lethargic and frustrated at times.

It was special to be part of another's Profession event - an event made more special by my being reminded that my own journey in the religious life is continuing despite what feels a bit like a detour. It is a journey in which I've now been joined by Matthijs (as I was reminded during the Luke 10 reading during the service - the same reading we'd chosen for our wedding as a symbol of our desire to serve God together!) and a journey with many possibilities and surprises from God.

No comments: