The night before my simple profession, the January sky was clear and full of stars. I remembered St. Thérèse telling her father that she thought her name had been written in the heavens in the in the form of a big “T”. She rejoiced and let her father lead the way as she kept her head back, looking at the starry sky. (Story of a Soul, Ch. II)
My father had named me “Elena Estelle”, which put together means “starlight.” On this night when I was preparing myself to make vows to my Heavenly Father Who made those stars, I stared up at the sky and thought to myself, “Leave some stars up there for me, too, Thérèse!”
God must have chuckled at this thought, because to my surprise, the next day was full of stars! “Stargazer” lilies were accidentally included in the floral arrangement for the reception. The Elves, the “people of the stars” from Lord of the Rings (my favorite book series), were brought up in the homily. The brothers made a card of a nun singing the Suscipe in the stars to congratulate me. Everything was so fitting and unplanned that I couldn’t stop smiling ear-to-ear all day. I felt like He was telling me that if I let Him lead then He will guide me the whole way – like a starry beacon in the night – I just have to keep my eyes on Him.
Simple profession was for me a culmination of joy and affirmation after my two-year novitiate. When it came time for me to sing the Suscipe, I was a bundle of nerves. However, I kept my eyes fixed on the crucifix above the tabernacle, and this calmed me down and steadied my voice. It’s strange how recalling the Passion of Our Lord can be a source of comfort for us, when for Him it was the experience of ultimate suffering – the Paschal mystery. As I sang, I thought this life will likely be very hard, and ultimately I will undergo my own form of crucifixion as all monastics must, but just as for Jesus, it will ultimately be a very good thing and from it will come much fruit and many graces, not just for me, but for the whole world.
As St. Thérèse pointed out in a letter to her sister, “It is such a joy to think that for each little pain borne with joy, we shall love God more throughout eternity!”
Much in me has had to undergo “simplification.” The complex thought processes and arguments that I had used unwittingly as crutches to get me through life thus far have had to go out the window in favor of a simpler, more Benedictine (and thus more balanced) way of life. Conversatio morum being put to work!