18 April 2015

Symbols of Perpetual or Solemn Eremitical Profession

[[Dear Sister, what are the symbols of an eremitical perpetual or solemn profession?]]

2007_0917_01hands.gifGenerally speaking the cowl is the primary traditional symbol of solemn or perpetual profession in monastic and eremitical life. A second symbol is the ring signifying espousal. Another is the crucifix worn or carried somewhere on one's person. So is a profession candle marking both baptismal consecration and this new consecration. My diocese required both ring and cowl (or other prayer garment --- whichever seemed best. Since I was a Camaldolese Oblate my diocese agreed the cowl was appropriate and the Camaldolese were consulted as well; they asked that the hood be cut differently from that of Camaldolese monks and nuns since I was not being professed as Camaldolese).

Temporary profession, on the other hand, can be marked by the giving of a prayer garment other than the cowl, by clothing in a habit and/or veil, by a scapular, etc. Not all diocesan hermits or their dioceses choose to use habits or cowls but all that I have heard of require the profession ring. Office books can be given to mark profession, as can a bound copy of one's Rule since this becomes legally binding on the day of profession. Strictly speaking, I am not sure the Office books are symbols of profession, but they are certainly meaningful signs of one's commitment and probably should be included in the rite. The Rule, however is a rich symbol and in particular, is both essential to the living of the life and plays a role almost daily in the  mediation of God's continuing call and the hermit's faithful response to that.