04 September 2007

Perpetual Profession Liturgy

I am sure I have only just begun to process all that happened yesterday morning. And while I want to write about it, I know that I will never do justice to the experience or the import of what happened. Perhaps over time, perhaps. Perhaps. Images of so many people, so many friends, so many who have touched me and allowed me to touch them as well --- so many celebrating the years of love and sorrow, of joy and pain, of fulfillment and waiting.

Again, the profession liturgy was AMAZING! It was wonderful for me, of course, but I have heard from a number of parishioners, etc that they were really blown away by something they had never seen before and were unlikely to see again. One friend was reduced to tears by the formal rite of calling forth on behalf of the Church of Oakland and faith community of St Perpetua's and my response, "Here I am Lord. You have called me, and I have come to do your will." Others were expecting a brief statement vowing poverty, chastity, and obedience in the course of an otherwise normal Mass, but were surprised by the examination, the content of the vows, the consecration, etc. Several thought the profession would be inserted into the Mass, but did not realize the entire Mass would be oriented to it from beginning to end. And MANY people who had not had a chance to meet the Bishop face to face, nor even to have seen him celebrate a confirmation, etc, were completely impressed by his warmth towards me, his own profound and personal involvement in the acceptance of my vows, his homily, clear concern and encouragement, etc. It was a wonderful way for the parish to meet a Bishop they had not been able to meet before.

Above all, I think it was a way to demonstrate how the Church esteems consecrated life, and --- I hope --- the gravity and sincerity of such a commitment. The simple fact is, I cannot live this vocation with integrity as fully as I need to without the support of this parish community. The call really was mediated from God through the local Church of Oakland and the faith community of St Perpetua's, and this was why Sister Marietta said precisely this when she formally called me to come forth to even ask for the privilege of admission to perpetual vows as a diocesan hermit. The call of vocation comes to each of us in the stillness of our hearts, yes, but in vocations to consecrated life, the church has always maintained these are eccelsial vocations: not just lived out in the heart of the church and in service to the church, but vocations where God's own call MUST come to the individual THROUGH the mediation of the Church. It is hard to say how influential the parish is in this vocation. There is no doubt, I don't think, that eventhough I journeyed this road for many years before being active in St P's, the parish has stamped the call with a character it would not have had otherwise. I know that my own thought in regard to eremitic life will turn increasingly to the reality of DIOCESAN eremitism, for I sense that it is different in some striking ways to monastic eremitism (that is, eremitism lived in a monastic community), and secular eremitism (perhaps not the best term for this, but noncanonical eremitism) --- even while they all share the same basic fundamentals: silence, solitude, prayer, greater separation from the world, and penance lived in Christ. Theologically I sense this is true --- though I can't yet speak intelligently on the theology of it --- but I also sense it simply from the change that has occured in my own perceptions and explorations of this vocation in the last little while.

So, a few more pictures of people who were active both in and behind the scenes at the Profession (including one of the servers I know would be as happy in the back of the sanctuary and without extra attention), and as time goes on, perhaps I can include even more --- because there is no way to thank everyone adequately or recognize them in this blog, and certainly not in one single entry!!!