This is a very special day for all Redemptoristines around the world. On this day in 1731 the newly born Order of the Most Holy Redeemer received their red habits. Yes, red. The color of charity, the color of the love which they were to 'put on', as they were to be 'robed' with Jesus Christ so as to be His "living memory."
We chose this day to have the final of three special versions of Midday Prayer which included the opportunity for the last group of three sisters to share special memories of their lives in community. These occasions are part of our celebration of the 50th Anniversary Year of the founding of this monastery.
Sister Mary Jane, the one with the computer keyboard in her lap, treated us to a slide show of shots from old photo albums beginning with her entrance in the late 1970s. Sister is our bursar and very adept at all things technical. She frequently pointed out how she used to have brown hair!
Sister Moira, who entered late in the 1980s, spoke of her very first visits to the monastery, of how quickly she recognized that it was "home", that this was the place where she would live out her contemplative vocation. Her first years here taught her flexibility in community as changes were explored and followed by the eventual decision to build a new monastery. She spoke very movingly of her privileged experiences in preparing for the funeral rites of two sisters. And she expressed her gratitude to the community for the unforgettable memory of support during her bout with cancer.
As for me, I spoke of how I hardly felt qualified for this memory sharing because I have been in community for only seven years. But when I gave it some thought I figured out that I have known the community for a total of seventeen years by including my ten years as a lay associate. This is over one third of the fifty years we are celebrating. All during those first ten years the community extended many invitations to join them for educational and spiritual experiences and I got to know a few of the sisters quite well. My mind was flooded with memories of our old monastery which, while rather institutional and much too large, had a beautiful chapel, a retreat hermitage in the old infirmary and many places to hide out and just be. There was a small oratory above the choir that looked down onto the sanctuary of the chapel. I called it a 'nest.' I spoke of fond memories of all the shared endeavors, working together to create prayerful liturgy, to imbibe the charism, to offer programs for religious and laity and to celebrate the blessings of God.
Lord, how good it is that we are here.