Sermon for Sr. Lucia Marie's Clothing
During the clothing ceremony for the investiture of new novices the Prioress gives a sermon. Below is the sermon Sr. Mary Martin gave on the occasion of Sr. Lucia Marie's Clothing.
My Dear Sisters,
I heartily rejoice in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul, for He has clothed me in the robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bride bedecked in her jewels. Thus the bride, Israel, exults in the prophecy of Isaiah. She is a forerunner and type of all of redeemed humanity: the Church, Mary Mother of the Church, and today in a particular way, Sr. Marie.
In modern American custom, the bride decks herself out in carefully chosen and usually expensive finery. However, in this passage from Isaiah, it is the Bridegroom who bedecks his bride. In the letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul says the same of Christ: He is the one who adorns His Church so that she is without spot or wrinkle. He does it at His own expense, at the price of His blood, the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb. During this season of Lent especially we celebrate the price of our redemption and the beauty with which our Redeemer has clothed us.
Today, remembering all these things, we clothe Sr. Marie in the habit of the Order of Preachers, the gown that we hope will be her bridal gown to wear the rest of her life. It is not materially costly, although I’m sure that the sisters who made her clothes put considerable time and effort into it. Nevertheless, the habit comes with a price, the price of one’s whole self which Sr. Marie begins today to surrender willingly to her Bridegroom, a small offering indeed in comparison with His infinite love for her. From our experience we can say to her that this sacrifice is carried out not in one grand gesture but in repeated small gestures made every day for a whole lifetime. It is not too soon to start!
As Sr. Marie begins her journey in the bridal finery of the Order of Preachers, there are a number of realities that she can take certain consolation from: one is the love and companionship of her Bridegroom and his beloved Mother, another is the gentle support and intercession of St. Joseph on whose feast she is being clothed, and last but not least, the support and prayer of her sisters in community and of the whole Dominican Order. Let us never forget to pray for one another as we all go forward together in this beautiful way of life that God has clothed us for.