Clothing of Sr. Chiara Marie
This morning, Feast of Our Lady's Nativity, our monastery clothed a new novice. Sr. Aisling began her novitiate and received the habit of our Order as well as the new name. Usually the private clothing ceremony is held in our Chapter Hall, but the heat moved us into choir. If you happened to be in our chapel after Mass you were lucky enough to hear some of the ceremony!
The Rite of Reception of Novices begins with the Prioress asking the prostrate postulant "What do you seek?" and the postulant replies, "God's mercy and yours." The Rite continues with readings from Scriptures and a sermon by our Prioress on the life the postulant is endeavoring upon. Sufficiently warned (just kidding!), the postulant is guided by her Novice Mistress to the prie-dieu to be clothed with the habit of the Order of Preachers while the community calls upon the Holy Spirit by singing the Veni Creator. This doesn't always go smoothly, as each sister's eyes veer from the music to catch a peek of the clothing process! Finally clothed in the holy habit the new novice greets each sister with the sign of peace as the community sings Ubi Caritas.
Then comes the moment we've all been waiting for...the community holds its collective breath and strains to hear the pronouncement of the postulant's new name. What will it be? We've been guessing (and suggesting!) for months, studying the novice mistress's face for signs of a correct guess! As the new novice kneels before her, the prioress gives her her new name.
"In the world you were called Aisling....in the Order your name will be...Sr. Chiara Marie of Our Lady Star of the Sea."
A collective exhale from the community and a giant smile from the new novice. Finishing the Rite with the Salve the community then proceeds to the community room to greet the novice in a more informal style. Amidst the well wishes and joyful laughter you hear the murmur: "Her name fits her perfectly" and "She looks wonderful in the habit" "It looks like she was born to wear it!" And of course the novice mistress is overwhelmed with the usual questions: "What is her name? I couldn't hear!" "How do you pronounce it?" "When is her feast day?" (Her feast day will be August 11th, St. Clare of Assisi, by the way.)
A flurry of "official" pictures with the prioress, novice mistress, and novitiate ends the unofficial ceremony in the community room. The pictures are no sooner taken then Sr. Blogger hurries to announce her new name to her friends and family back home in Ireland via our blog.
We invite you to thank God with us for the gift of a new novice and pray for her perseverance as she begins her canonical novitiate!