Today I was blessed to attend, at the newly consecrated Abbey Church of Our Lady of Ephesus, the blessing of the new Abbess, Mother Cecilia. Also, we had, in the context of the Pontifical Solemn Mass celebrated by His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary and Bishop of Madison, the reception of the temporary vows and reclothing in the black veil of two of the nuns, and, just before the final benediction, the clothing of four novices by the formidable Abbot of Clearcreek.
Yesterday’s video (now complete) is 7:43:00. Today’s is a mere 3:55:39. We got all of that done in under 4 hours!
Bp. Morlino addressing himself directly to the present ordinary, Bp. Johnston.
They are happy!
New stuff to iron.
What it’s all about.
After Communion, these gals showed up in their wedding gowns and then got a haircut.
The way my friend described it, as he watched from above in a gallery, it was as if they were going to their beheading. And, in a sense, they were! They are called on to die to self and to the world.
After the sheering the Abbesses new sheep, they vamoosed and changed into their tunics so that they could receive the rest of their habits, wimple, veil, cincture.
When the women are first presented, they are asked what they want, as in an ordination. They respond…
Misericórdiam Dei et societátem sorórum in monastério sub jugo Christi militántium.
The mercy of God and the company of the Sisters serving in the monastery under the yoke of Christ [militantium].
Notice how that “militantium” is translated? Hint: It wasn’t! But it is highly significant.
When the bishop admonishes the nuns about what they are going to vow to undertake (or, if they desire they can freely leave before they do this), he says:
Atténte consideráre debétis, fíliæ dilectíssimæ, quali obligatióne vosmetípsos ultro sitis obstrictúræ, qui quidque vobis servándum proponátis. Legem, sub qua militáre de cétero desiderátis, non solum lectióne, sed étiam íntegri anni usu et consuetúdine satis cognovístis. …
Dearly beloved daughters, you must attentively consider the obligations to which you are about to bind yourself and which you are resolved to to keep. You have already sufficiently learned the rule under which you wish to serve, not only by reading, but by a whole year of practice and experience as a novice….
Militare… to serve.
And there is a Collect:
Deus, qui beatíssimum Benedíctum, eléctum fámulum tuum, abstráctum a mundi turbínibus, tibi soli militáre jussísti: tríbue, qu?sumus, his fámulis sub ejúsdem magistério ad tuum servítium festinántibus perseverándi constántiam et perféctam usque in finem victóriam.
O God Who bade the most blessed Benedict, thy chosen servant, to serve thee alone, detached from the turmoil of the world: grant we pray, to these, thy handmaids, hastening to thy service under his direction, constancy in persev- erance and perfect victory unto the end.
Finally, before the blessings, the bishop crowned her with a wreath of flowers and then lead the new Abbess to a throne in the sanctuary.
And then he gave her the instrument of her office, the crozier.
You would not believe the military imagery in the prayers for this rite!
Frankly, I want a MITERED ABBESS in Gower! That’s the next thing to work on.
Try this prayer on for size… and as you read, think about the reference to St. Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr.
May she receive this day, at thy granting, O Lord, perseverance in good work, constancy in adversities, endurance in tribulations, desire for fasting, mercy for the impious, the first rank in humility, hatred of pride, love in faith, constant vigilance in doctrine, continence in chastity , abstinence from luxury, moderation in vicissitudes, and learning in morals. With thy help, O Lord, may she persevere thus in this ministry, as St. Stephen, chosen deacon by the Apostles, did merit to endure. From this day, may she despise all worldly conversation: thee, O Lord, granting thy blessing, may she despise temporal things, may she love things heavenly, and desire things eternal. May she be an example and ideal of justice, to govern and rule thy Church faithfully, so that amid her colleagues, she may always show necessary vigilance. May she be of great counsel, diligent in judgment, and effective in discipline. Thus, at thy granting, O Lord, may she, keeping a pure heart for thee in all thy commands, so attain to the prize of the heavenly vocation, to thy gifts of heavenly treasures, with the multiplied talents, with the hundredfold fruit and the crown of justice.
They have built this in TEN YEARS my friends. From a few nuns living in borrowed space near a high school, to consecrating their new church, receiving an ABBESS, and… as a bonus… announcing the location of their new foundation, a daughter house.
It will be in….
The Diocese of Madison.