Clothing of Sr. Lucia Marie
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, giving us a little boost of joy as Holy Week quickly approaches. Today we have an extra reason for rejoicing! Clothing, vestition, investiture, all these terms describe the beautiful day when our monastery welcomes a new member and gives her both the holy habit of the Order and a new name. Postulants aren't, properly speaking, members of the community. They are admitted into the enclosure and undertake a period of 'asking' (postulare=to ask), but their blue jumper (or any lay clothes!) is a visual symbol that they are still apart not yet a part. They are asking to become members of the community (at vestition), and eventually members of the Order (at profession).
Today Sr. Marie was welcomed as a member of our community and was given the habit and the religious name Sr. Lucia Marie of the Visitation. Today also marks the beginning of her novitiate. One year of novitiate, called the canonical novitiate, is required by Church law, but our monastery (along with most others) adds a second year after it before first profession. This is a time of probation where the sister is free to leave at any time and the community is also free to send her away if either determines that this is not God's plan for her.
The clothing ceremony takes place in our Chapter Hall in place of Terce. The sisters gather and sing a hymn chosen by the novice-to-be. The novice mistress then leads the postulant to the prioress where the postulant prostrates. The prioress asks her, "What do you seek?" and the postulant responds, "God's mercy and yours."
The postulant returns to her place and reads the reading, after which the chantresses intone the responsorial antiphon "Taste and see that the Lord is good." The gospel acclamation and gospel follow, and then all are seated while the prioress gives her sermon.
Finally the Veni Creator is intoned and the postulant is brought to the prie-dieu to be clothed in the habit. The Veni Creator is always a little shaky as sisters try to watch the clothing without losing their place amidst the verses.
The intercessions follow and then Ubi Caritas is sung while the new novice gives the sign of peace to each sister.
And then the moment we've all been waiting for! Up until this point in the ceremony we still don't know the new novice's name, as it is kept a secret from the professed community. The new novice kneels before the prioress and receives the name she will bear in the Order.
"Your baptismal name is Marie Catherine Langford
in the order you will be called
Sr. Lucia Marie of the Visitation"
The ceremony concludes with the Salve. Everyone then files out to the community room for a more informal greeting of the new novice. As usual we find that the new name fits Sister perfectly and she looks as though she was born to wear the habit! Then come the questions: who is she named after? When will her feast day be? Sister is named after our Dominican Blessed Lucy of Narni (you can read about her HERE) and her feast day will be November 14th.
And last comes the pictures of the new novice in the Chapter Hall!
Please keep our sister in your prayers as she begins her novitiate!