The Sisters opened some of their most sacred spaces and ceremonies in their convent in Ann Arbor, MI to Oprah producers who featured thirteen Sisters as they made their final vows.What was refreshingly obvious throughout this feature was that these women do not enter the convent as a rejection of sex, society, or even necessarily material things. Instead, theirs is an extravagant acceptance of something inexplicably more beautiful and holy. It is real feminism at its best and true spiritual motherhood, as several preteen girls were shown on the episode tearfully anticipating their own opportunities to give the entirety of their lives to Christ in the same complete, free way.
NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - What is love? Marriage? To whom can I give who I am? In their second appearance on Oprah this year, our Dominican Sisters of Mary witnessed the answers to the world today in the most direct, glorious terms.
With a deliberate vulnerability and purpose that brought tears to my eyes, the Sisters opened some of their most sacred spaces and ceremonies in their convent in Ann Arbor, MI to Oprah producers who featured thirteen Sisters as they made their final vows. This day is known as their wedding day - the death of the old life and the beginning of the new.
Brides of Christ
Processing down the aisle in their new black veils, angelic voices swirled around them, lifting them up, carrying them along: "Oh God beyond all praising, we worship you today, and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay..."
What was refreshingly obvious throughout this feature was that these women do not enter the convent as a rejection of sex, society, or even necessarily material things. Instead, theirs is an extravagant acceptance of something inexplicably more beautiful and holy.
It is real feminism at its best, and true spiritual motherhood, as several preteen girls were shown on the episode tearfully anticipating their own opportunities to give the entirety of their lives to Christ in the same complete, free way.
What is it about these Sisters that grips me so? I almost feel as though I have adopted them, or they me, in some unfathomable spiritual way. To be frank, it can only be Jesus. True to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, there is "nothing outward that would recommend [them]," as the Scriptures say of their Bridegroom, Christ.
Instead of glittering jewelry, the latest handbag, fresh highlights or flawless makeup, we are gripped by a radiance, a freshness, a truth in their faces, in their sincerity and expressions. It becomes gloriously evident that their vows, and the simplicity that accompanies them, make the way straight for Jesus to radiate from the nuns, uninhibited. We encounter Jesus in them, and we are stunned by the potency.
Not in any way silly or "girly," these are serious, educated women entering wondrously into the covenant, the sacrament of marriage, with Jesus who died for them. They give up everything, and yet they seem to have gained the whole world.
What kind of love is this? The Sisters show us, it is the most intimate relationship possible, the song of songs. It is a "love as strong as death" between God the Lover, and His beloved soul (Song 8:6). They teach us that marriage is much more than skin on skin, it is the "becoming one" of two, and according to St. Paul, more a spiritual mystery than a physical fact (Eph. 5:22-32).
As though having discovered something so glorious they are tempted to be secretive, their spirit and demeanor inexorably draw us into the truth and beckon us over for a peek: we are all married to Jesus Christ, united to Him, body and blood through Baptism and the Eucharist. Although the Sisters are free to pursue God more fully, our own marriages also image the mysterious intimacy of the Trinity.
The Scriptures, the mystic Saints, and the Church have always maintained that the marriage relationship is illustrative of God's relationship to His people. The goal, Jesus said, is the two, you and God, becoming one: "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect . . . " (Jn. 17:22-23). This spiritual intimacy is what perfects, completes, and consummates us. It is the loveliest song.
Often experiencing ridicule, sometimes even within their own families, religious brothers and sisters risk a fearful vulnerability in the effort to find God in this world of cynics and scoffers. But they tell us they can do nothing else, for they have heard the Lover sing to them the loveliest of songs.
Whatever one's opinion about Oprah, one can only feel thankful to her for inviting our precious Sisters to share both their Husband and their feminine genius with the world, for their lives challenge us, dare us, to lay every string of our existence under the magnificent hand of God, willing to be strummed to a consummation of spirit and love, each of us alone with God, yet all quivering with the same eternal Song that reverberates throughout a world in need of its meaning in Him.
Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic Scripture teacher, study author and speaker, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her at www.pursuingthesummit.com.
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