A joyous welcome to our three new novices.
In a simple ceremony the community celebrated the Rite of Initiation into Religious Life on Saturday, July 22, the Feast of Mary Magdalene. The young women, Amanda, Adriana (from our Mexican Province), and Verena (from our Central European Delegation), have spent the months of their postulancy deepening their desire to dedicate themselves completely to God and to the evangelization of the world with the means of communication. In a beautiful rite for the entrance into novitiate, the three new novices addressed the community with these words:
The love of God has guided us into your midst,
to experience your life in community
and to learn from your example to follow
Christ the Master, Way, Truth and Life
in the spirit of St. Paul,
with the attitude of Mary, Queen of Apostles
in a poor, chaste and obedient life.
Teach us to persevere in prayer and in sacrifice,
to nourish our life with the Word
and with the Eucharist,
to form with you one heart and one soul
in the service of the Church and of all humanity.
Help us to give witness to and announce the Gospel
with the instruments of social communication,
in every situation of life,
to know your Constitutions
and to observe the commandment of fraternal love.
Sr. Leonora, Provincial Superior, who received their request responded: "May God, our merciful Father, assist you along your way and Christ, Master of truth, illumine your hearts."
Words of the Provincial Superior to the new novice: May Mary, Queen of Apostles, introduce you into the school of the Divine Master and form you for the apostolate. Entrust yourself to her, know her, love her and pray to her.
During the two years of novitiate these sisters will open themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, enter into the school of Jesus the Master, Way, Truth and Life, so that they may come to know His life, to live for Him, with Him and in Him.
Sr. Mary Leonora, Provincial Superior, encouraged the novices: "In the spirit of the Apostle Paul, who considered all a loss for the purpose of possessing Christ, aim to become firm in faith, strong in hope, generous in charity, totally dedicated to the cause of the Gospel."
The new novices are encouraged in these words: "Imitate Christ the Master, chaste, poor, obedient, and study deeply and live the evangelical counsels as the Church and the Congregation present them to you. Learn to become apostles of the Gospel with the means of social communication and to live in fraternal communion, growing day after day in collaboration and in charity."
I was deeply moved with the readings for the Feast of Mary Magdalene. They were so perfect for the fresh beginning of religious life in these new novices. Sr. Verena also felt this connection with Mary Magdalene strongly, "Mary Magdalene was a woman who did not give up in her search for the Lord. And so I hope that I can learn from her example to not give up and to continue always in my search for the Lord. I see my novitiate as a time to search for the Lord, a time to learn and to grow deeper in my relationship with God. Not only a time to grow closer to God, but also as a time to grow and deepen community life with my sisters and our Pauline Spirituality. A time to lay the foundation for a lifelong search of the Lord. And so I begin this time of Novitiate in the trust, that He, the Divine Master will lead and guide me on my path towards Him."
Every Daughter of St. Paul learns from the very first days of her postulancy that we are not called for ourselves. Just like Mary Magdalene we are brought into communion with Jesus so that we might be sent out to the world as channels of his grace and his love. As Sr Amanda puts it, "that He might use me to share His mercy and hope with the world He loves so deeply." As one of the prayers of the rite so eloquently states, this privilege to spend our lives to announce the Gospel to everyone with the instruments of communication is not something we can give ourselves because we decide we'd like to carry it out. We ask to be accepted into the Daughters of St. Paul in order to serve God with perfect charity and spend every ounce of our energies for all our life in this mission that St. Paul would carry out if he were alive today. And in fact, St. Paul does carry it out today for Blessed James Alberione, our Founder, said that the Pauline Family is St. Paul living and working and evangelizing, praying and suffering today.
Novitiate is a two-year journey that ends with a beginning. The novice has not arrived at the top of the mountain at her profession, she has arrived at the foot of the mountain and joins the rest of the sisters in our walk toward Christification, so that in time, and in all ways, Christ may live in our thoughts, words, actions, desires, and love. Mary is the one who especially assists us along the way. We know this because Jesus himself entrusted himself entirely to her care while he was on earth, and from him we learn to trust this Mother ourselves. The following prayer of our Founder was composed for the novitiate but is a favorite prayer of all of us. You may find it meaningful to pray also:
Receive me, O Mary, Mother, Teacher and Queen, among those whom you love, nourish, sanctify and guide, in the school of Jesus Christ, the Divine Master.
You read in the mind of God the children whom he calls, and for them you have special prayers, grace, light and consolations. My Master, Jesus Christ entrusted himself wholly to you, from the Incarnation to the Ascension. For me this is doctrine, example and an ineffable gift. I too place myself entirely into your hands.
Obtain for me the grace to know, imitate and love ever more the Divine Master, Way and Truth and Life. Present me to Jesus, for I am an unworthy sinner, and I have no other recommendation to be admitted to his school than your recommendation.
Enlighten my mind, fortify my will, sanctify my heart, during this year of my spiritual work, so that I may profit from this great mercy, and may say at the end: “I live now not I, but Christ lives in me.”
St. Paul the Apostle, my Father and most faithful disciple of Jesus, strengthen me. I want to do my utmost, my very utmost, so that Jesus Christ may be formed in me.
Congratulations Sr. Adriana, Sr. Amanda, and Sr. Verena!
by Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP