At last, our fictional postulant Sister Melanie has become our fictional novice Sister Mary Rosaria of Divine Mercy. In this Vocation Letter she shares the story of her vestition with her grandmother. The year of postulancy is a year of seeking to become part of the community—”postulare” is the Latin for “to request.” Receiving the habit—Vestition—is a sign of reception into the Dominican Order, but not of consecration, which occurs through profession.
Ave + Maria
Prayerful greetings during this month of the Holy Rosary! I hope you are doing well. I celebrated my very first feast day in the monastery last week on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Since I received the name “Sister Mary Rosaria” almost two month ago, my daily Hour of Guard praying the Rosary has meant so much more to me. It’s as if our Blessed Mother uses these mysteries of Jesus, all strung together in the Rosary, as the “bands of love” to draw me closer to Him and conform me more closely to His image.
My title, “of Divine Mercy,” honors the Jubilee of Mercy which begins soon, and the great mercy which God has shown in my life and which is a hallmark of our Order. “What do you seek?” the Prioress asks each candidate at the entrance to the postulancy, novitiate, and profession. “God’s mercy and yours,” is the response.
That is how my Vestition ceremony began this past August: asking for God’s mercy and the mercy of Mother and the Sisters as I firmly resolved to “follow the Lord Jesus according to the evangelical way of life of our Father St. Dominic.” I knelt before Mother as she and Sister Mary Magistra clothed me in the white tunic, belt and rosary, white scapular and black cappa of our Dominican Order, and the white veil that marks me as a novice. Why do they clothe me? Because the Dominican monastic life is a tradition I am receiving in obedience from my superiors and all the Dominicans who have gone before me for the past 800 years.
If you see a picture of me from the day of my Vestition, you will notice I am wearing a crown of thorns. This isn’t part of the usual attire of a novice! Towards the end of the Vestition ceremony, Mother offers the novice two crowns, one of flowers, one of thorns. This tradition comes from an event in the life of St. Catherine of Siena:
Once, when she complained to Our Lord about a bitter slander against her, Jesus appeared to her and offered her two crowns, one jeweled and one of thorns: she could choose whichever she liked now, and the other would be hers in eternity. The Saint responded: “I choose in this life to be evermore conformed and made like to Thee, my Lord and Savior, and cheerfully to bear crosses and thorns for Thy love, as Thou hast for mine.”
We, too, choose the crown of thorns in this life, so as to receive in Heaven the crown of glory from our Spouse. It is very striking to see, even here on earth, the crown of real roses placed on the head of a deceased nun in her casket as token of that crown we pray she in enjoying in eternity.
Please pray for me, Grandma, that during these next two years of novitiate I may “assiduously follow our Holy Father St. Dominic” so that I may be “ready for the day of my espousals to Jesus Christ”! You are always in my prayers.
Love in Our Lady,
Sister Mary Rosaria
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