Joyful greetings to you from Kentucky! Yes, Sponsa Christi is back and I have great news…On the last Friday during the month devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Shannon officially entered the novitiate, became a novice, received the Passionist Rule, the holy habit and her new name: Sister Rose Marie of the Merciful Heart of Jesus. Blessed be God!
Click here to view a slideshow of the vestition accompanied by our singing.
She is kind of floating around and a bit tired after a wonderful 3-day visit with her dear family from Houston – who timed their visit just in time to also experience the Kentucky Bluegrass Festival held in Owensboro.
Sister and her Dad playing a little music of their own with “Ashoken Farewell”
The following is the talk Mother Catherine Marie gave during the vestition ceremony:
We have just listened to the wondrous story of the “yes!” that changed the history of the world. After the Angel reveals Mary’s unique name – “Full of Grace” – he reveals to her God’s plan of salvation and her unique part in it as Mother of the Redeemer. “And Mary said, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.’” (Luke 1:38)
This world-changing “yes” took place in a town that lay on the fringe of the mighty Roman empire. Certainly unnoticed in the political and religious world of her time, this wondrous event was hidden even from her family, especially from St. Joseph.
Nevertheless, Mary’s consent to her vocation to be the mother of the Messiah, changed forever the entire history of the world, past, present and future. Indeed, after Mary’s “yes”, everything changed. The Second Person of the adorable Trinity, the Word through Whom the Father created the universe and everything within it, the very Son of the Eternal Father, clothed Himself with our humanity in the cloister of Mary’s womb, in order to save a fallen human race. And Mary herself was clothed with Him, becoming the Ark of the New and eternal Covenant in which God had placed His most precious treasure.
We all remember the breathtakingly beautiful concert by Andrew Miller, entitled “The Birth of Christ”. How awestruck we felt when Mary gave her consent to God’s message, and a joyful ripple of voices began to flow through the entire choral ensemble, rising to a great crescendo as they repeated again and again, “She said yes!” Our hearts too were caught up and held in awe as heaven and earth rejoiced at Mary’s consent to God taking flesh within her.
We know from scripture that at the very moment Mary was saying her “yes” to God, the beloved Son of the Eternal Father was in her womb saying His “yes” to God. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “On coming into the world, he said: ‘Behold I come to do your will, O God!” Thus Mother and Son were united in a communion of love and obedience to the Father’s plan of salvation. Their loving obedience to the Father would be sustained even to the cross. St. Paul told the Corinthians that Our Lord was always “yes” and never “no” to the Father.
This beautiful mystery is having its ripple effect here today, as another “yes” is being offered to God. The obedient “yes” of Jesus and Mary has touched another human heart. Hidden in a cloistered monastery, unnoticed by the busy secular world, another young woman is unfolding her whole being today like a mystical rose before the radiant sun of God’s loving plan for her life. Receiving the holy habit and entering the Passionist novitiate, Shannon offers an obedience of faith. She says “yes” to the next step along her vocational journey. She says “yes” to being clothed in the Passionist habit and to entering our Passionist novitiate. And like Mary’s “yes”, Shannon’s every “yes” along her journey will have ripple effects throughout the entire Church and world.
A new name is being revealed here today, a new name signifying a new mission in the Church. When the Angel Gabriel announced God’s plan to Mary, he revealed her new name: “Full of Grace”. Today, Shannon will receive her new name in the Passionist Congregation: Sister Rose Marie of the Merciful Heart of Jesus.
The name “Rose” is very significant for a Passionist. The rose is the symbol of love. A red rose has been used by Catholic poets and hymn writers to signify the wounds of Jesus. Shannon likes to recall the following line from Shakespear’s “Hamlet”: “Rosemary is for remembering.” In our context today, Rosemary or Rose Marie truly is for remembering because Passionists are for remembering.
St. Luke tells us of the Virgin Mary: “His mother treasured all these things and kept them in her heart.” It was before the great icon of the Mother of the Redeemer in the Church of St. Mary Major in Rome that our Holy Founder was inspired by God to make a unique vow of loving and grateful remembering—a vow that has to do with treasuring in one’s heart the memory of the great love and suffering of the Redeemer, and then spending one’s entire life in the desire that Jesus Crucified be known and loved and that His most sacred Passion will bear its precious fruit of salvation in every soul. This vow sums up our special charism in the Church.
Indeed, Passionists are for remembering. And Sr. Rose Marie of the Merciful Heart of Jesus will be in our midst to remind us of the very heart of our mission in the Church. “Rosemary is for remembering.” Like Mary, we Passionist contemplatives treasure up in our hearts—and indeed bear engraven upon our hearts— the loving memory of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, as our Holy Founder tells us in the Introduction to the Primitive Rule. With Mary, we work and pray in our cloister that others too will come to know, love and serve their Redeemer and bear a grateful memory of His Passion.
“Rosemary is for remembering.” In our case, “Rose Marie” is for the loving and grateful memory of the Passion of her Beloved Jesus. In union with the contemplative gaze of Mary, Sr. Rose Marie will spend her life fixing her eyes on the merciful Heart of Jesus, treasuring His every word. Like Mary, she will allow the Holy Spirit to engrave upon her heart the loving memory of His saving mysteries. Like Mary, Sr. Rose Marie’s great desire as she offers her daily prayers, works, joys and sufferings, will be that the Passion, death and resurrection of her Beloved will release all its saving power on every human heart, every human life, upon nations and their leaders.
As you know so well, Pope John Paul II wrote a magnificent Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, a Letter that in many ways is a perfect expression of our Passionist charism. In the section entitled “Remembering Christ with Mary” he says: “Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering. We need to understand this word in the biblical sense of remembrance, [that is] a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation…These events not only belong to yesterday; they are also part of the ‘today’ of salvation. This making present comes about above all in the liturgy: what God accomplished centuries ago did not only affect the direct witnesses of those events; it continues to affect people in every age with its gift of grace. To some extent this is also true of every other devout approach to those events: to ‘remember’ them in a spirit of faith and love is to be open to the grace Christ won for us by the mysteries of His life, death and resurrection.” (#13)
So as Shannon says another “yes” to God’s plan for her life, as she is clothed in the grace and power of the Passion of Jesus which is signified by our holy habit, as she puts on the white veil of one espoused to Him whom the angels serve, and as she receives her new name in the Passionist Congregation, Sr. Rose Mary will stand in our midst as a witness to the mystical dimension of our vocation. Her feastday will be that of Mary, the Mystical Rose, on January 30th. Indeed, “Rosemary is for remembering.” Passionists are for remembering. And indeed when we pray in union with the memories of Mary, the Mystical Rose, the mysteries of Jesus release upon us and upon others all their saving power.