Saturday, February 4, 2012

Last Ceremony In New Zealand?

Epiphany 2012 marks a momentous occasion for the Dominican Congregation of Wanganui. On this day several of our sisters made their oblations to our Lord, in what may have been the last ceremony to be held here in New Zealand.

Most of our Community after the Epiphany Ceremony

Because of the continuing growth of our community, it has become necessary to move the Novitiate to Australia, where it will be easier to expand and build a larger convent. As for New Zealand, the sister remaining at St Dominic's Convent will continue to teach in the schools and to work for the greater glory of God.
January 6, 2012 marked a triple-blessing for our Congregation. Not only did three postulants receive the Holy Habit of St Dominic, but four novices also made their first temporary profession and one professed sister mader her final vows.
Postulants asking to receive the Holy Habit
Newly-veiled novices making their choice between the earthly crown of roses and the heavenly crown of Thorns

The three postulants all hailed from the United State of America - but from different parts. One came from Texas, another from New Hampshire, and the third from Kansas. The new novices have been faithful to the 'call of St Dominic' to his Order - they must now imbue their souls more and more with his spirit.
"The black and white cross. Veritas ! We are the knighthood
of truth. Others have Pax or Caritas or Gloria Dei. None of these is outside the orbit of the Dominican soul, but she will reach them by the way of truth : it is in the light of truth that she looks at everything. Truth sets off and quickens the elements that she shares with other
Christian forms of spirituality. A thirst for truth will be the ruling sentiment of our soul.
When we sing the praises of our Father, in a noble hymn every night after returning from our procession to the altar of Our Queen and Lady, Mary, we call St. Dominic "light of the Church, doctor of the Truth" : we say that he pours forth the water of wisdom and that
his preaching diffuses grace. And if we add that he was a "rose of patience" and "ivory of chastity," these are but the accompaniments of his fundamental vocation
to be a man dedicated to the truth. He espoused the faith as St. Francis espoused poverty.
Whereas St. Benedict wished that "nothing should take precedence of the divine praise,"
St. Dominic placed study in the forefront of his own life and of ours. St. Bruno forsook the schools to seek the wildest solitude and to shut himself up there : Dominic founded his priories and convents in the heart of the town and particularly in university centres to
study and teach there. St. Bernard, like St. Augustine, wished his monks to spend much time in manual work : St. Dominic did not hesitate to suppress such labours entirely in order that spiritual work alone should be undertaken.
All ancient observances that he retained are subordinated and adapted to the pursuit of truth. Francis of Assisi, putting poverty above all else, reproved a young disciple who wished to study theology, on the ground that possession of the requisite books would entail unfaithfulness
to holy poverty. Dominic, on the other hand, looks upon poverty as a release from temporal anxieties to facilitate concentration upon study. Moreover, he authorizes his disciples to possess, as he did himself, the books which are the instruments of knowledge. St. Catherine of Siena in her Dialogue rejoices to hear the Eternal Father praise that love of science which characterizes
the "barque"of Dominic. " Our Order is the first," said Humbert of Romans, "to have thus linked study to the religious life, prius habuit studium cum religione conjunction."

It is not the pleasure of cultivating our mind that underlies our intellectual efforts : it is love of Him Who is the Truth itself, it is the love of God. Dominic seeks God in the sacred books where He has revealed Himself. Always, as he trod the highways which lead to Rome,he turned in search of God to the infallible Master of sacred doctrine. " What is God ?" was the oft-repeated question of the little child in whom the Dominican vocation was beginning to awake, and who was to work until the end of his life to compile the Summa of what man can know on that divine subject.
" Our spirit," said St. Thomas, " must strive unceasingly to know God more and more."

A St. Catherine of Siena bids us gaze upon God with a wide-open eye, the pupil of which is faith. Even simple Tertiaries should be relatively better instructed and more intellectual than other Christians, and assuredly no Dominican soul worthy of the name will ever prefer
sentimental dreams to the certainties of the faith. Study ought to upraise us towards God and lead us on to contemplate His perfections, His government and His activity within us. This contemplation will be the highest expression of that appreciation of truth which
characterizes the Dominican soul. It must be attempted even by those who cannot make long and profound meditation. To help them St. Dominic instituted the Rosary, which places the contemplation of the Christian mysteries within the reach of everyone. As Pere
Lemonnyer notes with pleasure in his book upon the Friars Preachers, it was by Masters of Theology that this splendid devotion was restored and propagated in the fifteenth century."
It is thus, by instilling in the hearts and mind of the novices - the desire for Truth, the thirst for Doctrine, the love of prayer - especially that of our Lady's Rosary - and all of the other characteristic aspects of the Dominican spirituality, that souls are formed - ready to follow in their Holy Father's footsteps, working for God and for souls.


The solemn high Mass of Epiphany was celebrated in the Dominican Rite by our Dominican retreat master, who was assisted by two priests who have served as our convent's chaplains.

It was beautiful to once again see the Dominican rite perfomed on our altar here in Wanganui.



At the Offertory, five sisters made the oblations of their lives in religious vows: four temporary professions and one perpetual profession.


The novices made their temporary vows in the hands of their Mother Superior and then exchanged their white veils for the black veils.


After the last sister made her perpetual vows in the hands of her superior, then the temporarily professed sisters had left the altar. The finally-professed sister then received the newly-blessed ring - the priest saying, as he places it on her hand in the name of the Church:
"Receive the ring, sign of bridal fidelity to God in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, that, wearing it, thou mayest be armed with the strength that cometh from divine protection, and that it may benefit thee unto everlasting salvation."
Afterwards, the sister prostrated herself in the form of a cross, and the solemn prayers were chanted after the following antiphon:
"I love Christ, into Whose nuptial room I shall enter : Whose Mother is a Virgin, Whose
Father doth not know woman; and Whose voice singeth sweet to me: Whom
when I love I remain chaste, Whom when I touch I am pure, and Whom when I take I remain a Virgin. With His Ring He hath wedded me, and He hath adorned me with most precious jewels."

After the ceremony, the priests, family and friends, and parishioners joined us for a small reception - full of much joy and merriment.

We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and ask that you continue to keep our congregation in your intentions as we expand 'over-seas.'
Our Holy Father St Dominic, pray for us!

4 comments:

msc said...

Praise be to Jesus Christ not only for all the sisters who have made vows and/or renewed vows but the obvious sign of His Love to your congregation in the vocations He is sending.

Thanks be to those women who are brave enough to respond!

Sr. Kasandra, Canada

Bernadette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernadette said...

God Bless all the Sisters, Novices and Postulants of this wonderful order. These photographs are most edifying. We thank God also for the three new Novices from the United States.This great country is providing so many young ladies of virtue for the traditional and conservative religious orders.

Anne said...

Congratulations! May all of you have a happy and holy Lent! Hopefully some day we Americans will see you hop over the "pond" and settle a house in the states. I think Central US, St. Louis area, would be a lovely place for a new house. ;-)