‘Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary!’

‘Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary!’

Sister Maria Christi makes First Holy Profession

On June 24, Bishop Raica presided at the First Holy Profession of Sister Maria Christi of the Holy Spirit at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville. The complete text of his homily follows herein.

My dear sisters and especially Sister Maria Christi of the Holy Spirit, I am indeed honored to preside at your First Holy Profession here at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. Thank you, Mother Mary Pascal, for your invitation to preside at this beautiful event today. Sister Maria Christi, the Lord has been instrumental in bringing you to this point of your first profession. And, if I may say so, the Lord is ever-present to you and, through the course of time, must increase more and more in your life. You are already taken hold of by our Lord. It must not be a point of arrival as much as it is a point of departure. For you, and your sisters, I can only think how beautiful this journey is for you. What an amazing choice you make today to make your first profession into this community of the Poor Clares here at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

As is already noted, the Poor Clares cloister here in the middle of the countryside of central Alabama offers an extraordinary witness of the power of silence and the power of contemplation in the heart of the Church. Placing yourself, along with your sisters, before the Blessed Sacrament, you hold all priests, religious, and fellow pilgrims close to the Lord. I express my profound personal gratitude for your prayerful witness today.

Sister Maria Christi, you are about to embark on an extraordinary journey of faith. Some aspects of silence and contemplation will be a source of interior growth and strength for you. It is a counterpoint to the noise and busyness of the world around us to say, “No, there is another path that can lead to fulfillment and wholeness.” It is characterized by Mary, Martha’s sister, who sits and contemplates the words of Jesus while Martha is busy about many things. In silence and contemplation, you reflect more deeply on the Word that has given you life. You are not caught up in political hysteria that unsettles so many today over mundane issues. You are rather caught up by the love and friendship of Jesus as spouse and Lord. He is your beloved and comes to us in unexpected ways. I cannot help but think of those moments of silence in Sacred Scripture that resulted in some cataclysmic events. The creation of the world occurred in silence. The incarnation of Jesus in the womb of our Blessed Mother occurred in silence. Our Redemption, through the crucifixion of our Lord, occurred in silence – everyone, except His mother and the Beloved John and the centurion, fled. The resurrection occurred in silence. Pentecost occurred in silence in that Upper Room when all the fear they had was dissipated by the presence of Jesus.

More recently, Pope Francis providentially reflected on contemplative prayer during his Wednesday audience a little over a year ago. Pope Francis invited us to reflect more deeply on the power of contemplative prayer. For those of us not in a cloister, I for one, know that contemplative prayer and contemplation is not always easy. It is a grace and an openness to what God can do in and through you as you become more and more one!

Our Holy Father wisely observed: “Being contemplative does not depend on the eyes, but on the heart. And here prayer enters into play as an act of faith and love, as the ‘breath’ of our relationship with God.” It depends on how your heart responds to the promptings of Christ. It is discerned by “listening with the ears of your heart,” as St. Benedict would say.

My dear sister, your religious name says it all - Sister Maria Christi of the Holy Spirit. Father Luigi Giussani had a saying that is uttered as a prayer: “Veni Sancte Spiritus – Veni per Mariam.” The power of the Holy Spirit was especially poignant in the moment of the incarnation. Like Mary who welcomed the Announcement from the Angel Gabriel to become the mother of Christ, the mother of God, it all happened because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ was made flesh – someone we could see and touch and hear. Through our Lady’s yes, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, she conceived and bore a Son who became known as our Emmanuel – God with us or as the great prophet Isaiah recounts: “wonder counselor, prince of peace.”

Your journey, my dear Sister, is one that will allow yourself to be found and be charmed by the gaze of Christ, reflecting on the power of His Word and presence, like Mary, the sister of Martha, who “listened to Him” and had chosen “the better part.” Allowing yourself to be taken totally and completely by your Beloved, He will reveal to you the very mystery of life to you.

Finally, on this feast day of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, who doesn’t appear to be a contemplative in ministry, we take to heart the fact that “He must increase” and “I must decrease.” He’s the one who reminded those to whom he preached, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” He’s the one who urged John and Andrew: “Look! There’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” His life is best associated with the very call of interior conversion for a Christian. Only You!

I pray that you will allow Christ to find you in the silence of your heart each and every day – as one ready to welcome Him without reservation into your heart, soul, and life. Now, support your sisters who will embark on an amazing journey of faith with you to plumb the depths of Christ our Savior. You will find a beauty that is indescribable and one that corresponds to your heart in ways that you have yet to experience. I urge your sisters to pray with and for you as you get your bearings in contemplative life.

Finally, we, who are living life on the outside of the cloister, promise our prayers for you as well. Those here today are embracing you with our prayers, and the Lord and His Blessed Mother will sustain you on your journey. Through the prayers of St. Clare, may God bless you! Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam.