This past Saturday, we had, for the third time in about six months, a solemn profession here in our monastery. That means that a young woman, after spending about nine months here as a postulant, two years as a novice, and at least three years in temporary vows, now makes her final and definitive commitment of herself to Our Divine Lord in religious life, specifically in our Dominican monastic life.
Almost as if he were commenting on this beautiful event that took place last Saturday, Saint Peter says to us in the first reading of today’s Mass: “Although you have not seen him you love him . . . even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. . .”
Think of that for a moment. In the natural order, man and woman meet and get to know one another, and fall in love. They decide to espouse themselves to one another all their lives. So they marry, and if they are mature and intelligent and loving and generous, their marriage will be a success. In this case, a young woman has come to know Our Lord Jesus not in the natural way of one person coming to know another, but in terms of hearing the preaching of the gospel, believing it, and falling in love with the Savior who is the central figure of all Christianity. Not only does she fall in love with him, but she seeks to espouse herself to him in a commitment as solemn and sacred as marriage. She will never see his face with her bodily eyes in this life; she will never hear his voice with her bodily ears. She will never be able to embrace him physically. But the love affair between the two of them is one more case of Jesus drawing millions of men and women down through the centuries of the Church into this intimate relationship with him which causes religious to vow themselves to him, priests to serve him in Holy Orders, martyrs to die for him, and the ordinary Christian to live according to his holy will and so to become the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
No wonder we rejoice! Our Dominican life of priesthood and religious profession has been going on uninterruptedly for almost 800 years. Please God, it will continue as long as time continues. Be that as it may, we know by our faith in the Church which Christ founded that the sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders and the beautiful sacramental of religious profession will continue because they are of divine institution or invitation and spring from the very heart of the Christian faith.
As Our Lord said so beautifully to Saint Thomas who doubted no more when he saw him after the Resurrection, “You believe in me, Thomas, because you see me. Blessed are those who do NOT see, and yet believe.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.