Among the many things I can remember from my vows ceremony eighteen years ago is being overwhelmed by my sisters' love, kindness and generosity. So much happened that day which was a tangible expression of their quality of welcome, including some well-timed and thoughtful faxes from RSCJ abroad who barely knew me. Meanwhile, some sisters had been asked to do something for the ceremony and willingly said yes; others dropped everything at the last minute to help out, or simply saw a gap and quietly, without fuss, stepped into it. As the beneficiary I was deeply touched and at one point in the morning moved to tears by it all: I recall that my little weep released something within me, so that for the rest of the day I was totally, delightedly, overflowing with joy
Yesterday I had the joy of being part of that loving welcome, as one of our novices made her first vows in a simple yet profound Mass at the novitiate. There was something powerful in hearing her steadily say the words I - we - had all once said, in seeing her throw in her lot with us. Our delight was more than matched by Katie's evident joy at being able to publicly profess her YES to the Love that has called her, and at God's generous response expressed in many ways, including the love, prayers and support of all those present. Joy and happiness are contagious, and Katie's and ours certainly filled the house and gathered depth and momentum. And yes, the spirit of generous service was very evident: in the arrangements, liturgy and practicalities as much as in the sister who spent a lot of the celebratory tea ensuring the teapot never ran dry, and those who quietly cleared up as the rest of us took our leave.
With all this in my heart I went to Mass this morning, and was struck by a line from the second reading: be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind (Phil 2:2) It summed up so much of what yesterday was about, and so much of what Katie did - and what vowed membership of our community is about.
In making her vows Katie publicly declared her desire to be united in love with God, and united to the desires, convictions and purposes of the Heart of Jesus - to have a common mind and heart. But in the process she also united herself in love to every RSCJ in the world, pledging to be part of our common purpose and our common mind and heart. And we rejoice at her self-gift and, with great gratitude and joy, accept her - with all her gifts, limitations and potential - uniting ourselves in love with her in our common mission of making known the love of God, whose source and symbol is the Heart of Jesus.