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Somebody’s Knocking At Our Door: The Rite of Profession

April 27, 2012

By Sister Cynthia S.

The third ceremony a woman in the process of becoming a Sister of Mercy participates in the Rite of Profession, based on the Rites of Religious Profession of the Catholic Church and celebrated within the Mass.

The novice to be professed is asked about her desire to extend and intensify her baptismal covenant through the profession of religious vows: poverty, chastity, obedience and the service of the poor, sick and ignorant. The sister reads her vows aloud and signs them in the presence of two witnesses. The whole assembly responds with their affirmation.

The ceremony for perpetual profession adds some significant ritual pieces, the most visible of which proclaims the totality of the sister’s gift of her life to God forever. Before God, her sisters and the assembly, the sister prostrates in front of the altar, while the assembly sings the Litany of the Saints.

The singing of the community becomes a kind of oil that rolls over the woman as she lays there, her whole self extended in the gift of her life. Those who witness this ceremony for the first time are startled by the simplicity and depth of this gesture. Some are surprised to see that sisters do this, because they are more familiar with this gesture as part of ordination rites for priests.

We pray that in the celebration of these rituals all of us may come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of our call, and a greater willingness to let the light of our faith and hope shine in the world.

Read Sister Cynthia’s blog post about the first step, the Welcoming Ceremony and the second step, Reception.

Do you have questions? Ask Sister Cynthia in the comments or contact us.

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