A Sign of Contradiction
“Did not the Christ have to suffer these things
before entering into His glory?”
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Though all the world faces bans, closures and cancellations, this day of Christ’s victory cannot be cancelled or prohibited: the Lord is truly risen! Nothing can or ever will ban or keep this day hidden. Our Lord Jesus Christ said from His saving Cross, “It is consummated!” And He said well. For all that He promised, all that was prophesied of Him, has been accomplished. He has laid down His life for His flock – for the sheep, each of which He knows by name. And He has taken up that precious life again. Yes, the Lord is truly risen.
In light of so much upheaval in the world, and the daily worries mounting for so many souls, the peaceful victory of the Resurrection comes as the day that promises victory over all sorrow, sin, fear, sickness, evil and death. The sweet triumph of the Resurrection, fruit of so much bitterness and suffering, gives to all of us hope in the lesson of the Holy Cross: In the Cross is joy for those who have faith. Yes, this sign of contradiction, so despised and misunderstood by the world, pours deep and true joy into the hearts of those who lovingly carry it in union with the Divine Master, finding Providential purpose in all their trials.
So while most of the churches remain empty and silent, and the Easter Alleluia may not be chanted in all of its splendor this year, let our own hearts echo the glorious angelic chorus of Heaven’s Alleluia. Its melody echoes over the dark, silent, empty tomb: This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Peace to the redeemed of the Holy Cross! Alleluia!
And let us renew our courage for the days ahead, remembering: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Blessed and Joyous Easter to you!
Your Carmelite Sisters
P.S. See pictures from our recent clothing ceremony below.
On Lætare Sunday, we had the joy of celebrating the Investiture of our Novice in the Holy Habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The celebration had an unfortunate side, though, since good friends from near and far were unable to attend. (The Investiture Ceremony is one of the few public ceremonies of the Order.) Even so, many friends and family of our Carmel were united with us through online livestream of the Mass and ceremony.
Since it is a wedding day, a lovingly decorated cake is in order, yes?
Early in the morning, before the Mass, the Sisters arrange the cross of flowers, upon which Sister will prostrate on during the ceremony: Joyful Immolation!
At the end of the ceremony, the Prioress places on the head of the novice a crown of pink roses. The “pink” roses arrived a bit darker than expected. They really were not red, but very deep pink… Well, we decided to call them pink! And there were enough to decorate with bouquets the Choir and the entire Monastery. These roses were donated by one of Sister’s sponsors. Sponsors become loyal spiritual friends to the new Sister – and throughout her life. They are among the first to benefit from Sister’s Carmelite life of prayer and sacrifice for love of Christ.
We also decorate the Choir grille with flowers. The postulant kneels here, close to the altar, through the entire Mass.
Set near the grille is the habit the new Sister is to receive in the ceremony following Mass. In addition to the tunic, the mantle, scapular and cincture are all blessed during the ceremony.
The Priest blesses the habit before all the individual parts are given to the Novice. While each part of the habit is imposed, the Priest says a prayer which will be repeated by the Sister throughout her life, every time she puts on the habit. For the tunic it is, “May the Lord clothe thee with the new man, who is created according to God in justice and holiness of truth.”
The cincture: “When thou wast younger, thou didst bind thyself and didst walk where thou wouldst; but when thou shalt be old, another shall bind thee.” The cincture (a long leather belt) is primarily a symbol of obedience, as we mentioned in our recent newsletter.
The scapular: “Take upon thee the yoke of Christ, which is sweet and the burden which is light.” The Scapular is a mark of Our Lady’s protection.
The mantle: “They who follow the Lamb without spot shall walk with Him in white; may therefore thy vesture be forever white as a sign of thy inner purity.”
After receiving the habit, the new Novice lies prostrate on the cross of flowers that was prepared for her in the Choir. The Veni Creator is sung by all: the supreme prayer of the Church to God the Holy Spirit for guidance, protection, wisdom and light.
A charming Carmelite custom in the traditional ceremony is for the Community’s youngest Sister to scatter red rose petals on the newly clothed novice. A beautiful symbol of the Precious Blood of Christ.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
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