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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Saturday, 27 July 2013

How silently...

Yesterday, during the final Eucharist of our Janet Stuart session, we had the handover from one Provincial Superior - and their respective Teams - to the next. In a process so simple it can barely be called a "ceremony", we began by praying for the outgoers and the incomers; then Margaret, the outgoing Provincial, anointed the hands of her successor and her Team, after which Jane, now our new Provincial, reciprocated for Margaret and her Team.

It was beautifully simple and deeply moving. Silently, imperceptibly, before our eyes yet hidden from them, the mantle of authority slipped from the shoulders of one woman and wrapped itself around the other.  Behind the scenes the canonical procedures had taken place: our Superior General had written to confirm the new mandate, and its commencement date, but the precise moment of transition happened here, in public yet unseen.

But when, exactly? Without the aid of fanfare or announcements it was hard to tell. Was it the moment when we all prayed for Jane, invoking God's grace and blessing on her? Or when Margaret anointed her hands, murmuring her own blessing? As with so many things of God, it is only God who truly knows, and I found myself recalling a well-known line from a popular Christmas carol...

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given...

They then distributed oil among the congregation, and we all anointed each others' hands, murmuring our own prayers of blessing and missioning, whilst the Veni Sancte Spiritus was sung around us. Anointing is often used to confer dignity, priesthood, majesty, but it is also used for healing and to impart strength and grace for a specific mission or authority. And so it was, in the shared intimacy of a quiet prayer and an oily, scented cross traced on humbly outstretched palms, that we sent and strengthened each other for whatever mission lies ahead for each one...

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