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The Priory of Our Lady, Walsingham

Sister Carol's 1st Profession reflections

 

My heart is ready, O Lord

Lord, now the day has come of my 1st Profession. All the preparation done; new habit, scapular and veil made, invitations sent out, service booklets printed, ring bought, chapel polished and set up, and the cake made, all a bit like those wedding preparations many years ago. But this is a wedding with a difference, this time I make my vows to you. Vows to remain for ever in the state of Celibate Chastity, to Poverty and Obedience, to be gentle and loving to my Sisters and to all people and to devote every faculty of soul and body to the service of you, I will be clothed with a scapular representing the Yoke of Christ, receive the veil of Chastity and the ring of Faith.

After 4 days in retreat, I say:

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,

For this I long,

To live in the house of the Lord,

All the days of my life,

To savour the sweetness of the Lord,

To behold his temple.(Psalm 27)

And what a wonderful day to be making my vows, on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after all, it was here at Walsingham in the Holy House that I heard your call to me and so it seems fitting that on this great feast of Our Lady I should be saying my Yes.

But not only that, it is Advent and a new church year, a time for new starts, new beginnings, and letting go of the past. Today I must let go of my old life and make a new beginning. This doesn’t mean that my old life is unimportant, but that I can say Thank you Lord for the past; the bad times as well as the good. My broken marriage, my children, the jobs which I did, everything that happened in the past are all part of what made me the person I am today, for that I say:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His love endures for every.(Psalm 118)

Now is a time for a new beginning; a time to say Yes. What the future holds, I do not know, only you know Lord. I look to Mary, who (as Fr Stephen has been telling the Pilgrims each week), when the Angel Gabriel visited her, didn’t know if she could bring this baby to full term. As you know, according to Lavitican law, she could have been stoned for having a baby out of wedlock. But that didn’t stop her from saying her Yes to you.

I too don’t know what lies ahead; joining a small, elderly community. Will I be able to take life vows in 3 to 6 years’ time? Will there still be a community here? I don’t know, but I place all my trust in you Lord because it is:

It is better to take refuse in the Lord

Than to trust in men

It is better to take refuse in the Lord

Than to trust in princes.(Psalm 118)

I can say my Yes and leave the future in your hands.

But why me Lord? As St John Damascene said ‘Now you have called me Lord….Why, indeed, in your providence, you acted so, I do not know. You alone know that.’

Surely there must be better people, people more capable than me who you could have called? But I take courage from the words of St Paul:

‘Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many of you were wise by human standards, not many influential, not many from noble families. No, God chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong, those who by human standards are common and contemptible – indeed those who count for nothing – to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something, so that no human being might feel boastful before God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:26 – 29)

And so, as the time for the service approaches, I can say:

My heart is ready O Lord,

My heart is ready.