Veni Sponsa Christi - Ite Missa Est Editorial
Veni Sponsa Christi
My dear faithful,
The greatest day
For a young bride, the greatest and most memorable day of her life is her wedding day. So many dreams and idle imaginations anticipate the day, so much planning and preparation precede the day, and hopefully, so much happiness fills her heart on the day she offers it to her spouse.
The same is true for a religious sister. The greatest day of her life is the day of her marriage – the day on which she gives her heart to her Divine Spouse. Unlike a sacramental marriage, however, a religious sister binds herself to her Husband in stages: first as a postulant, then as a novice, then by temporary vows, and then, finally, by perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Her marriage is so momentous that it must be prepared over many years.
Of all the days of preparation, the most moving – certainly for the observer – is the day of the commencement of the novitiate when a young lady receives her religious habit and makes her first promises before the Blessed Sacrament. This day bears most resemblance to a sacramental marriage.
On her wedding day, just as a bride wears a special wedding dress, a religious sister is given a wedding dress – her religious habit – blessed by the priest. This wedding dress might not be so outwardly beautiful as a fairy-tale white wedding dress, but its symbolism is much more so.
The veil which she will place on her head is a symbol of submission to the will of her Spouse, as we read in the prayer of the blessing:
Give ear, O Lord, Giver of all good things and virtues, to our prayers, and deign to bless and sanctify this veil which Thy handmaid will put on as a sign of obedience to the Rule of this Institute. Through Christ our Lord.
The scapular which a religious places over her head is a symbol of the sweet yolk of God's law:
Come to me all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light. (Mt 11:28-30)
It is also a symbolic protection from the world and, resembling the clothing of a pilgrim, it reminds the wearer that life is a pilgrimage to our heavenly home.
Girdle and rosary
The girdle about her waste is a symbol of chastity, and the rosary hung from that girdle is a sign of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary – nothing could make her more pleasing to her Spouse.
On her wedding day, just as a young bride will wear beautiful jewels to please her husband, a religious sister will also wear jewels, but these are jewels so much more precious that any earthly king could afford, and so much more beautiful than any earthly jeweller could make. These are the jewels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
These jewels, she offers to her Husband: all her wealth by desiring poverty, her body by desiring chastity, and her heart by desiring obedience.
On her wedding day, just as a young bride will unite herself to a husband, a religious sister will unite herself to the most perfect Spouse: Our Lord Jesus Christ. He will always be with her - closer than any earthly husband could be because she not only lives beside Him, but also in Him by participating in His Divine life. He will always be faithful to her for His love knows no bounds.
On her wedding day, just as a young bride acquires a mother-in-law, so too a religious sister – the best of all mother-in-laws, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is a model for her: a model of love to the point of self-sacrifice, love overflowing to embrace all souls for love Him.
On her wedding day, just as a young bride begins her vocation to motherhood, a religious sister will also begin her vocation to motherhood. The religious sister becomes a true mother of souls: spiritually by her prayers and sacrifices, and naturally too if her apostolate be among children or souls in need of her tenderness.
In her motherhood, she will have many more children than any earthly mother can hope to have and she will love them with a deeper love for she will always desire for them the good of heaven.
Perpetual Wedding Day
Unlike a sacramental marriage, however, the wedding of a religious sister is not celebrated in a single day, but continues day after day. Every day she will wear her wedding dress; every day she will offer the precious jewels of poverty, chastity and obedience to her Spouse; every day her Spouse will be new to her.
The wedding will not stop when she dies either. If she is a faithful spouse, it will go on forever and ever amid the choirs of angels and the saints in heaven.
Rejoice and give thanks
In view of these considerations, we rejoice and give thanks, for on 2nd July 2022, Miss Lilly Kane of Pontypool received the habit of the Dominican Teaching Sisters of Fanjeaux, France and took the name in religion of Sr. Beatrice Thérèse.
And then on 26th July 2022, Miss Theresa Blyth of Burghclere received the habit of the Dominican Teaching Sisters of Brignoles, France and took the name in religion of Sr. Claire Theresa.
May their example open the eyes of other young ladies, and may the Blessed Virgin Mary guide them tenderly through their novitiate to become holy spouses of Christ.
With my blessing.
In Jesu et Maria,
Rev. Robert Brucciani