Sermon for a Vestition Ceremony
What a beautiful day for your vestition, Sister Deepa— at once, the 93rd Foundation Day of our monastery and also the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels! Their mysterious existence is referred to in both Old and New Testaments and while the celebration the Angels goes back to antiquity, the actual feast of the Guardian Angels began around the year 1411 in Valencia. We indeed heard in today’s 1st reading at Mass, See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. (Ex 23:20) God’s providential care has always been with you, Deepa, both in your going and in your coming. It extends to each one of us individually and personally! How can we doubt our worth, when we hear from Jesus’ Himself that our angel in heaven always looks upon the face of his Father?
We are here with you this morning because you know that you are a dearly beloved child of God, providentially cared for by a unique ministering angel and you are also called to belong to Him, in this place, in a very unique and special way. As there are no two angels alike, so also your gift of self is unique and precious in His eyes.
There is a touching story from the Lives of the Brethren very much to the point: There was also, in Vercelli, a great cleric, a lawyer, and when he heard of the entry of some students who were friends of his into the Order, he forgot the books he had open before him and did not even stop to close them, he forgot everything he had in the house, and rushed off alone to the brethren, like a madman. Meeting an acquaintance of his on the way, who asked him why he was running like this all alone, he did not stop, but simply said, “I am going to God.” So he reached the place where the brethren were lodged—they did not yet have a house of their own there.
There he found Master Jordan and the brethren assembled together and he threw off his silk cloak and prostrated himself in their midst as if he were drunk, and all he could say was, “I belong to God.” Master Jordan then, without asking any questions first or getting any response out of him except this, said, “Since you belong to God, in his name we make you over to him.” And with that he got up and clothed him. (Lives…IV 10.iv)
Well, dear Sister, since you belong to God, in his name we also make you over to him by clothing you now in the holy habit of our Order. It is the sign of your intended consecration and incorporation into the brotherhood and sisterhood of the Preachers.
It is our earnest prayer that you may joyfully persevere in wearing this habit and recite in union with all of us, “In the presence of the Angels I will praise you, my God.”