First Profession Celebrations, August 2019, S. Tere Maya.
Today I want to speak not only to the three sisters that are casting their lot with our CCVI life this month of August, Cande, Elizabeth, and Miriam; but to all our sisters and Incarnate Word family.
A new profession into our common life needs to be reflected upon by the whole congregation. Which is why I believe it is important to ask ourselves honestly: What does a celebration of first profession mean in this moment of our Congregational life?
The whole congregation changes with each profession of first vows: a new person arrives, we need to make room, to create authentic hospitality; we need to listen, learn, and get to know them. In short, we need to create new relationships. If any of us expect you, recently professed sisters, to “adapt,” to “learn,” because “this is how things are,” and we do not welcome the newness, the freshness of your quest, your questions, your energy, your dreams… we diminish the vitality of our Charism. Thank God that Cande, Miriam, and Elizabeth- are wagering on us; now we need to make room at our tables and allow them to change our conversations.
We also need to recognize that the first profession is not the final profession, but I believe it is the most important. This profession, above all, reminds us that our common life when we have a vowed commitment is always, always a journey. The collective wisdom of the religious life in our Church gifts us with this time to remind us all- that our life is always a journey of discernment and accompaniment. Sometimes, I truly lament losing sight of this wisdom, especially when we see the next profession, the final profession, as a destination and not simply as a new beginning. The beginning of a journey of on-going formation, which requires conversion and discernment- that never, never ends.
First profession reminds us that our life is a journey of accompaniment. A journey where we need to enter into relationships that transform, make us grow, that mature our faith; a journey for all of us, not only for the sisters making their first profession.
Your profession today reminds us that we are still on this journey, that we need to shake the dust and ask ourselves when or why our dreams faded, ask ourselves how we give witness to our hope; ask ourselves how we will live this journey of transformation together.
Today, I am convinced that your profession reminds us that life is “about God.” [“se trata de Dios”] When in many of our hallways, we murmur with fear or lack of trust; when in messages and insinuations, we question everything and we feed our depression because “we don’t know where we are going.” At that very moment, you arrive among us.
You disconcert us! Why? What do you see in us? Don’t you all know that… we are older, and some of us even difficult? Because sisters forget that this is not about us, this is not about what we “lack,” this is about God, about the clay that God chooses simply because God wanted to. Your YES, today, reminds us all that this is about the God who BELIEVES in us, who expects mission from us, prayer, presence, joy, solidarity, and trust. Only in God’s option for us can we accomplish any of this.
Today is about God. [Hoy se trata de Dios]
And, of course, I do not fail to see that you are making your profession during our Congregational Jubilee year. Without doubt, a year full of grace, where we have come to know that without shadow there is no light, that without mistakes, our vulnerability, or our human frailty there can be no Incarnation. A year, where we see that in the end; we got here because of pure grace! What a blessing to make your profession in a year where everything is filled with gratitude for the God who “dwells among us.” Far from making you feel special, you should think of the responsibility that will be yours because of the privilege of coinciding with this anniversary.
A new journey begins, a new commitment for each one of you recently professed sisters to continue in discernment and to accept the accompaniment of your congregation. A commitment also for all the sisters in our congregation to discern our relationship with you and to offer accompaniment and hospitality.
Thank you, Miriam, along with Cande and Elizabeth,
for opting for our life and for kindling our hope.
Welcome to this new threshold, welcome to our CCVI journey of life.