Since today is the Feast day of St. Dominic, I would like to share the following reflection about my sister. What’s the conection? Read on…
My sister was vested in the holy habit of the Order of the Sisters of Life and received her new religious name on Thursday, June 5th. That weekend my family and i were able to visit the convent in the Bronx.
After the six-hour drive on Saturday, we were greeted by a group of happy nuns standing outside of the convent anticipating our arrival. I wondered what i would think to see my sister in a full habit. After about 5 seconds she looked perfectly normal; she was meant to wear that habit. “So who are you?” was the first question I asked her. “Sr. Grace Dominic”. It makes perfect sense for her to have that name extolling “the grace of the Lord” and honoring our mother. We proceeded to greet the other sisters and chat a little bit about the nearest White Castle (we were hungry) among other things. Sr. Grace Dominic excitedly showed me her new weapon, a St. Benedict medal crucifix attached to the rosary hanging from the side of her habit (please read about the significance of the medal here). Then we went to a nearby Italian restaurant for lunch.
The sisters live in a pretty quiet and peaceful neighborhood of the Bronx, NY. Their convent is right across the street from St. Francis de Chantal Parish and bears the same name. After lunch we came back to the convent for holy hour and Vespers with the sisters. Sister Mary Karen had arranged the evening prayers in the parish church because I could not get to the convent chapel. All the new novices and their families sat together as we prayed the rosary. During slient adoration I was struck by the majesty of the Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle and felt at peace by the fact that he called my sister to be his very own. She is a sister of LIFE—Jesus is our Life. The heavenly voices of the sisters blended with ours as we joined them for vespers ( evening prayer of the Church) which followed holy hour In front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was all very beautiful.
That night the sisters had a cookout with all the families of the new novices. I met several of the sisters (some for the 2nd time) including the the five new novices who were invested along with my sister. I am still working on some of their names. Their families came all over—the closest family came from Canada and the furthest came from California.
Sunday was visitor’s day. Henrietta (Sister Grace) was happy to see some of her friends and local relatives. We went to Holy Mass and spent the afternoon with the sisters along with their friends and family members. Sr. Grace showed us around the convent… i remained on the lower floor (where the kitchen, laundry and rec room are ocated). I saw where they keep their books, bikes and desserts (they have more books). Sr. Michaela and i chatted for a while… we were joined by Sr. Mary Gabriel who shared some funny stories about the new novices. She said that they were all crying and hugging each other when they saw themselves with their new veils and habits for the first time. Sister Mary Gabriel also mentioned that she saw my sister do a double take when she passed by her own reflection exclaiming “I’m a nun!” I had the privilege of conversing with most of the nuns and i even got a chance to speak with the Mother Superior, Mother Agnes. They all love having my sister around. I was inspired, edified and consoled by all of them. Sr. Charlotte reminded me about how everything in this world is only temporary including the separations and suffering we experience. This life is short and we will all be inseparably united with each other forever where there will be no pain. And in the meantime, for those of us who are Catholic, we are all connected to each other every time we receive Holy Communion worthily.
It is truly a blessing for me that God chose my sister to be such a witness– a powerhouse of grace overflowing onto those who even look at her! That reminds me of the time that we were together driving or walking in the Bronx — a man standing on the street smiled in our direction, and then he bowed. I was a little perplexed as to what this was all about. It only made sense to me when I looked past my shoulder — of course! The habit! My sister is a nun! later, she told me that it’s common for random people to stop and notice her as she’s passing by.
Sister Michaela made sure I had sufficient time alone with my sister. Henrietta, with tears in her eyes the entire time, shared some of beautiful experiences and reflections with me. During the hair cutting part of her investiture ceremony, she saw Jesus ( with the eyes of faith) beside her stroking her hair and holding the scissors. In her heart she felt that she was giving everything to him even to the hair on head! She realized that it was all a matter of giving back the gift to the One Who had given it to her in the first place.
When it was time for us to say goodbye I was completely at peace–the kind that surpasses all understanding. As we were leaving the convent, Sister Grace Dominic shouted “for the glory of God!”