REFLECTION FOR PROFESSIONS OF VOWS OF DIAN HALL AND CRYSTAL PAYMENT
By Sister Carolyn Teter
June 7, 2014
Today, we are celebrating the profession of vows by Diane Hall and Crystal Payment. There are several parts to the celebration: the theme of today’s celebration, Spirit and Grace; the first reading from the Book of Wisdom; the Gospel reading from John; the profession of the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience by Dian Hall, and the profession of the vow of fidelity by Crystal Payment. All of these parts take place in the Great Prayer of the Church, the Celebration of the Eucharist.
What I hope to do in this short reflection is to help us look at the reality of what is happening at this Profession Ceremony: to look at the cosmic dimensions of all of the parts and their interconnections, seeing that what is really going on in this Eucharistic celebration, even now: that the Risen Christ, the Cosmic Christ, continues to gather us—our hopes, dreams, joys, pains and sufferings—along with the entire cosmos into his own body transforming them into love energy for bringing about greater unity in the cosmos.
The reading from Wisdom tells us that God has a significant role in the cosmic creative process and also helps us to experience God at work in an evolutionary universe. Sophia, Wisdom, is the presence of God poured out in self-giving love. She reveals herself as the very nature of God who becomes the dynamic field of Trinitarian love at the center of the universe in Jesus the Christ, moving the whole evolutionary process toward greater unity in love until “God will be all in all.”
Can we see the role of the Spirit and Grace in this reading? Some scripture scholars identify Wisdom, Sophia with the Spirit. The closing of this praise to Wisdom ends in chapter 8, verse 1: “She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good.” Grace is the strength, the love energy that moves us toward what is good, to the “more”: more being, more compassion, more love, more justice, more peace. All of these “mores” bring about greater unity, greater oneness, with God, everyone and all of creation. The Spirit is the source of that love energy, the Spirit whom Jesus promised to send after his death and resurrection.
The reading from John clearly states the mission and purpose for which the Congregation of St. Joseph exists: we live and work that all people may be united with God and with one another. It is the mission of Jesus himself, the same mission which continues to unfold in the Church and in the world: “that all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you: I pray that they may be one in us.”
This statement makes it clear that Christ, the risen Jesus, the Cosmic Christ is the One who draws the many into One by the power of the Spirit, who is the power of love, so we can proclaim that “God is in us, we are in God and all of us (God, us and all of creation) are in one another.” There is no dualism here. No we/they, no male/female, no Christian/Muslim, no Jew/Gentile. We are all one in Christ, the risen Jesus, who is the personal center of Trinitarian love, drawing every joy, hope, dream, pain, suffering into His Body and transforming all of this into love energy for bringing about greater unity in love.
The vows pronounced by Crystal and Dian imply that they have been grasped by the gratuitous, profound love of God. The vows they proclaim, though different, are a sign that they have come to know this love experientially and wish to consecrate their lives to living out Maxim 24 to the full. “Be utterly given to God by a holy self-surrender, utterly for God by a love pure and completely unselfish, utterly in God by a continuing effort to be more conscious of God’s presence, utterly according to God by a will, a life and everything conformed to God.” The vows they make wrap them in the mission of the our Congregation of St. Joseph: To bring about unity by their presence to everyone and all creation with active and inclusive love. This consecration and the vows as the sign of this consecration, have a cosmic dimension. They move the whole evolutionary process towards greater unity—towards justice, peace and compassion for all. This is what consecrated life is all about: to be the arrows of the evolutionary process showing the world that it is only active inclusive love that moves the cosmos towards its fulfillment in the Cosmic Christ when God will be all in all
All of the parts of the celebration find their culmination in the Eucharist. Teilhard de Chardin in his essay, The Mass on the World, says: “When the words of consecration are said by the priest: THIS IS MY BODY, these words extend beyond the morsel of bread over which they are said: they give birth to the Cosmic Christ, the Total Christ so that the effects extend to the cosmos itself…the entire realm of matter is slowly but irresistibly affected by this great consecration” So when we receive the Eucharist, we receive the Total Christ, everyone and all of creation with all the joys, hopes, dreams, pain, sufferings and diminishments of everyone and of all creation. These are transformed into love energy which provides the movement of the cosmos with its direction towards greater unity with God and all of creation and anticipates its goal, where God will be all in all.
Saint John Paul II stated that “The Eucharist is also celebrated in ‘order to offer on the altar of the whole earth the world’s work and suffering in the beautiful words of Teilhard de Chardin.” Benedict XVI in a homily spoke of the consecration of the bread and wine as consecrating the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. In receiving the Eucharist we are saying “yes” to being in relationship to Christ and thus being in relationship with all others and the entire cosmos.
Medaille called us to be The Community of the Great Love of God. We are one with Dian and Crystal and with the whole Body of Christ which includes everyone and all of creation, as they consecrate themselves by vow to live out this desire which we have as Sisters of St Joseph. It will demand a dying to our ego selves and going out to be in creative relationships with one another, with the dear neighbor, with all of creation. This will mean being open to the new, because God is creating at every moment, so we must live on the creative edge, trusting that God is coming to us from the future and enkindling in us “fire” for bringing about new patterns of relationship, patterns of love, mercy, compassion and forgivness.
Welcome Sisters Crystal Payment and Dian Hall to the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas.
Sources: Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu, The Mass on the World
Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ
Catherine LaCugna, God For Us