This weekend, I was privileged to attend the jubilee celebration for five of our Sisters in Hankinson, North Dakota (Sr. Bernadette, Sr. Carmelita, Sr. Hildegard, Sr. Susan Marie and Sr. Sara Marie). It was a beautiful day in many respects, but especially in all the people who gathered for it and in the liturgy celebrated by Bishop Folda and a number of area priests. I was especially touched by the first reading, from Hosea (2:16, 21-22), which is given in the lectionary as an option for Masses for the consecration of virgins or religious profession (and also applied for this jubilee Mass). It speaks very beautifully for itself (as quoted below)
Thus says the LORD: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.
Although this text was first applied to ancient Israel, I think each of the jubilarians, and all of us, can find it resonating in our own hearts, calling us to gratitude as we reflect on our own vocation. We might ask ourselves and reflect:
- How has our Lord lead and even “allured” me on my life’s journey?
- How has He spoken to my heart in the past? What might He be saying to me at this time?
- How has He “espoused [me] in love and in mercy”?
- How has he taught me to “know the Lord”?
Such reflection should lead us to joyful, thankful praise similar to that of St Francis.