Friday, February 10, 2012

"What I longed for, I now see..."

Sr Elizabeth's Solemn Profession
Sr Elizabeth Burgess' Solemn Profession at St Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde on 6 January was a celebration of joy, thanksgiving and song.
Sr Elizabeth joined the Benedictine community at Ryde six years ago when she was nineteen.  Because Ryde belong to the Solesmes Benedictine Congregation they keep the holydays on the traditional days so for them it was the feast of the Epiphany, and as usual at Ryde all was sung in Latin Gregorian Chant.  Usually the bishop presides on these occasions but Bishop Crispian of Portsmouth has not been well so delegated his role to Fr Abbot Cuthbert Brogan of Farnborough, an old friend of Ryde.
Abbot Cuthbert was accompanied by the two young juniors from his community.  Sr Elizabeth belonged to the Oratory parish in Oxford and five Oratorians were present, including Fr Daniel Seward who preached the homily (seewww.stceciliasabbey.org.uk, Chapter page).
After the Creed Sr Elizabeth came forward with a lighted candle singing in Latin "Now with all my heart  I follow you ... I seek your face".  She pronounced her vows in front of Fr Abbot, concluding with the traditional threefold "Suscipe" with arms held up in prayer: "Uphold me, O Lord, according to you word, and I shall live"; and then, bowing low, "Let me not be confounded in my hope."
After reading the chart of her vows and signing it on the altar she received the monastic cowl and then prostrated for the Litany of Saints and the Prayer of Consecration of Virgins.  After this she received the black veil, gold ring and book of the Divine Office.  Sr Elizabeth's mother died when she was a novice and so her profession ring is her mother's wedding ring.
Sr Elizabeth then placed her two joined hands between those of Mother Abbess, to signify her obedience, and after that received the kiss of peace from each member of her community. After Mass and a buffet lunch the guests joined the Sisters for a "festive recreation" in the parlour, with contributions from both sides of the grille.
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Sr Elizabeth participated in Irish dancing which is why the picture shows her with a green sash pinned to her habit.

Two other young women are still in formation at the Abbey, and more are expected in 2012.
Sr Elizabeth with two novices

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