As Handmaids, we find it is sometimes difficult to explain our way of life to outsiders, Catholic and non-Catholic, family, friends, or strangers. Summarizing, as we did in the cartoon we posted on July 9th, that the word, “Fiat!” is best, may not be clear enough for those who are not nuns. It may seem too simple or facile.
So we present the same simplicity using different means. How can a life be reduced to “Yes! Fiat!” to God’s will? Can lives really be lived like that? Yes! Ask Sister Rose Anne of Jesus, who we buried on Monday: she lived a daily “Let it be according to the word!” for over half a century. Ask Sister Christiana of Christ the King, who professed solemn vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience as a Handmaid of the Precious Blood on Friday. These events, these holy bookends beginning and ending just one week apart, provide ceremonial witness to the essence of this “Fiat!” we are trying to describe.
It’s simplicity is disarming and alarming yet boldly joyful and energizing. A Sister contemplating our life; our vows, can say of the “Fiat!”: It means I can do anything for God at any time. I give him permission in advance to do with me as he wills. This (whatever action this is) is for you Jesus, right now, always. I do nothing without you.
On Monday one Sister lay in death, her earthly life of vows as a Handmaid complete. On Friday one Sister knelt professing, her earthly life of vows as a Handmaid beginning. Holy Bookends of our life. Deo Gratias!
PS: As near as we can figure, this is the first time in our 70 year history that we had a funeral on a Monday and a Solemn Profession of Vows that same week on Friday. That Sister Rose Anne’s death was on First Saturday and Sister Christiana’s Profession was on First Friday was wonderful. The generosity of our Shepherd, Bishop Stika, remains something we are very grateful for as he worked it into his schedule on a moments notice to celebrate Sister Rose Anne’s funeral Mass. His Eminence, Cardinal Rigali, was very gracious in that, despite his duties in Rome, he made time to celebrate Mass for the repose of Sister’s soul in Saint Peter’s. And just three days later, both Bishop Stika and Cardinal Rigali were celebrating Mass for Sister Christiana’s Profession as a Handmaid.
We have been so blessed. Thank you Jesus!