Monday, March 3, 2008
Our clothing ceremony
In the still dark of January 5th 2008 the seconds seemed to quiver as they slowly passed. Did we even sleep at all that long night, the night before our clothing in the habbit of the Dominican sisters of Wanganui. Questions darted through our minds in an unceasing train of if’s…buts….and oh dears… the strange realisation that we would never spend another night as Antonia Rose Marie Gregory and Philomena Maria Theresa Ockerse.
The feast of the Epiphany of the child Jesus -finally we thought, wrapping ourselves for the last time in our long silky dresses; one of shimmery gold the other of moonlit forest green, surrounded in soft blue of our children of Mary capes which reassured us that our Virgin mother would lead us before her dear child whose gifts we are. On entering the church our thoughts followed the hymn “Crown Him with many crowns” yes, here we were to offer Him our own garlands of love, prayer and sacrifice in exchange for one from which all the roses had been taken –A crown of thorns.
After the ‘Asperges Me’ with Father Laisney seated in the centre of the sanctuary, Fr Loschi and Fr Cranshaw on our lady’s side; the sanctuary gates wide open like the arms of our waiting spouse, the Master of ceremonies Andre Ockerse escorted us as we processed through to be presented at the altar steps.
“What do you ask?” A prompt like an angel whispering, “ask and you shall receive” -
“Gods mercy and yours father” surged from the bottom of our hearts.
There at His feet Mother Mary beside, all doubts fled.
Retuning from the sanctuary Mother Micaela laid the holy habbit in our arms and clasping our future we left the church to put on our white robe and black cappa, symbolic of innocence and penance; our only garment for the rest of our lives. Returning as glowing brides of Christ we walked down the isle singing the Salve Regina.
First Antonia then Philomena we bowed our heads towards father and the strange almost awful sound of sharp quick scissors filled our ears. As the blades rampaged through our quantities of hair we knew it was symbolic of our choice - to tear ourselves from the life of the world with definity that as His brides we must remove all earthly adornments for spiritual pearls of the hidden life.
We knelt before mother Micaela to exchange our mantillas for the Dominican veil. First the cap then guimp, band and finally the white veil enclose gently about our faces and save for the slight apprehension as mother brandished pins, followed by a few finishing tugs from sister Madeline, we were clothed. Tremors of happiness made one feel like bursting into laughter or song but all I could do was smile!
Once more we knelt on the sanctuary steps as Father blessed the dark rosewood rosaries and taking it we girded ourselves with the sword of our spiritual life. Then came our small St Benedict crucifixes, one gold, one silver, to be laid in time upon our written vows. In imitation of the choice our Lord gave to St Catherine of Sienna, Father held before us two crowns but the red blossoms and green leaves in a mist of gypsopfela held no charm beside the long sharp thorns entwined into the semblance of a crown. And we accepted this mystical invitation, “I choose the crown of thorns”
We left the sanctuary for the outstretched arms of Mother Micaela who embraced tenderly her two new daughters in the kiss of peace, smiling and speaking softly
“ holy perseverance” to each. Along the length of our community we walked each sister whispering a secret to help us on the journey we began on that beautiful day.