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Tonsure of Sr. Cecilia
Tonsure of Sr. Gabriella
Bishop John's homily
Article by Michael Martin on Spero News
Mother Theodora’s reflection on the tonsuring of Sister Cecilia (formerly Sister Julie) and Sister Gabriella (formerly Jessie) as rasophore nuns during vespers for the Feasts of the Protection of the Mother of God and St. Thérèse of Lisieux on Sunday, September 30, 2012:
It was an absolutely beautiful day! The weather forecast called for thunderstorms and we pleaded with Jesus to “push back” the thunderstorms, especially since Vespers and the reception were outside. Well, He did, and other than the chilly air, it was perfect weather. Beyond the gift of beautiful weather was the plethora of gifts showered upon the hundreds of people who witnessed the tonsuring of Sister Cecilia (Sister Julie) and Sister Gabriella (“Just” Jessie) at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch in Burton, Ohio.
Gifts of courage, peace, hope and joy were experienced and shared. Bishop John spoke of courage in his homily, and Sisters Cecilia and Gabriella were a witness of courage to the world as they entered the next stage of their monastic journey as rasophore nuns (“robe bearers”). During the tonsure, neither the Eldress nor the newly-made rasophore speak a word, as if to emulate Jesus, Who courageously took on the Cross and “was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Acts 8:32).
I prayed for courage. Even though I read the following prayer many times before the tonsure, I felt my heart jolt both times that Bishop John placed the young nuns’ hand in mine and said, “Behold, I entrust to you before God this new beginner. Instruct her to live in the fear of God and in every virtue. Watch carefully, that her soul not suffer destruction because of your carelessness; for you will answer to God for it in the Day of Judgment.” Jesus, be my wisdom and my courage.
The gift of hope was manifested through the tonsure of these two young rasophores as they instilled in all present the hope of new life. Through their witness they encouraged the Church, the Bridegroom’s Bride, that she IS alive, IS impregnated with the Holy Spirit, IS worth giving your life to and that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The gift of peace and joy permeated the atmosphere. The indwelling presence of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whose presence clearly radiated from the countenances of the two newly tonsured rasophores, was witnessed and experienced by those present. Some of them shared with me, days after the tonsure, that they continued to experience a joyful peace.
Before the tonsuring, Bishop John blessed the Sisters’ riassas and skufias praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Who descended to clothe Yourself in our mortal nature, we beg you in Your goodness to bless this clothing which the holy Fathers have sanctioned as the garb for monastics, in token of the innocence and humility which should be theirs. Laying aside the vanity of secular garb, may these servants of Yours, who are to wear this clothing, likewise put on You, and be recognized as women dedicated to Your service. May this garb also serve as a sermon to the people, reminding them that there is a God….”
Our lives as monastics are sermons without words. Our garb is Jesus Christ, and as women dedicated to serve, we put on Love-Incarnate and humbly strive to be steadfast witnesses of courage, hope, joy and peace for the Church and the world. Please continue to pray for us and be assured of our prayers for you.
|A photo with the priests, seminarians and monastics present at the tonsure|