Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Letter from Sr. Natalia

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Beloved Friends and Family,

As I was praying very intentionally with the profession service on my pre-profession retreat, I was moved to share part of those reflections with all of you. I find that there is a common misconception at the tonsure of a monastic that I’d like to clarify. I know that some come to this service thinking, “Wow. How beautiful! This woman is giving up all the goods and beauties of the world for the sake of the Lord. This is the epitome of virtue. Of holiness. She is entering the life of holiness.” There are truths in all of this, but really none of these capture the fullness of what a monastic tonsure is, and I think they can even distract us from the reality of what you will witness today.

As Sr. Petra and I come down the aisle in our simple white garment (which we will be buried in some day), we are barefoot. Hair untied. Hands crossed across our chest as though they were bound. Because at this point we are bound—by our own sin. We walk down the aisle totally poor, with nothing to offer but ourselves. And as we make our three prostrations (a sign of penance), the hymn being sung is not “Here Comes the Bride,” but it is the troparion of the Prodigal Son. Proclaiming our deep sinfulness, and our deep need for mercy. I remember when a monk, who has been fully professed for many years, gave a retreat at our monastery. He said, “When you are making that final prostration, and you are praying to be received into the ranks of the penitent, your prayer should be, ‘Lord, I need this life of healing. I need this life of recovery.’” This is very similar to what St. John Climacus writes in the Ladder of Divine Ascent, “Let no one, by appealing to the weight and multitude of his sins, say that he is unworthy of the monastic vow...Where there is much corruption, considerable treatment is needed to draw out all the impurity. The healthy do not go to a hospital.” At the ordination of a Byzantine deacon or priest, when they receive each article of their vestments, the priests and people cry out, “Axios!” meaning “He is worthy!” You will notice today that when Sr. Petra and I receive each article of monastic clothing, the priests and people cry out, “Lord have mercy!”

Please don’t misunderstand me. Though this is a day in which Sr. Petra and I enter the ranks of penitents and promise a life of self-denial, it is by no means a gloomy day. On the contrary, it is a day of great rejoicing. But I firmly believe the joy is that of Luke 15:7, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” In this sense, today you are all joining in with the rejoicing of the angels over two sinners who desire to transform their prodigal pursuit of sin to the prodigal love of their Bridegroom.

Please pray for us that we may fully embrace this life of joyful penance. And be assured of our prayers for each of you as well.

In Christ our Bridegroom,

Sr. Natalia

See the previous post for more information about the upcoming life profession of Sr. Natalia and Sr. Petra on Sept. 26.


  1. I've been quite struck by a couple of interviews I've seen online with you on pints with Aquinas. Also on your most recent podcast. I was especially inspired by how alive and joyful you are. And your story resonates with me. I live in Scotland and am Anglican. I live that you talked about prodigal meaning 'reckless'! I love that you will be reckless for Christ. I hope to be reckless for Christ too! I'm praying for both you and Sister Petra, and hope to see your ceremony live! Congratulations in advance! G

  2. Dear Sister, What a beautiful post! I have been learning so much about your faith as you discussed it with Matt Fradd! (And your podcast with Father).However, I have lost some respect for him as he forgot your birthday! You were right to call him a rubbish friend! Hah! I have two spiritual daughters who share your birthday, maybe I'll offer a donation around that time in reparation for Matthew's shortcomings ha!
    God Bless the work
    Oremus pro invicem
    Father A

  3. Our prayers are with you today Srs Petra and Natalia ❤️
    Mother Mary put her mantle around you 🌹🙏

  4. Beautiful Mother Natalia.
    I was so inspired and touched by your interview on Pints with Aquinas.

    I am a wife and mother of 9.
    My vocation is marriage however, still drawn to the religious life.
    I gave my wedding gown to a local Carmelite convent when I learned that the young ladies wear them on the day of profession.

    I thought to myself, "they stand in my stead... And in a way... I renew my vows to Christ each time it is worn..."

    My call to sanctity is through the primordial means of marriage. And I humbly ask for prayers for myself and all mothers striving for holiness.

    Much love.



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