Today was a wonderful day of celebration for our community as Sr Mary Cathy became a novice and received the habit of a Domincan nun. During the next two years she will participate more fully in our community life as she discerns if the Lord is calling her to profession.

Prioress’ homily at the ceremony of Reception of the habit of Sr Mary Cathy

Cathy, as you are clothed in the habit of the Order we welcome you into the great family of St Dominic.

Today’s feast is a very fitting occasion for this step on your journey in following the Lord’s call. It is a great feast of light and fire – a feast of light and joy, bringing to a climax our celebration of the Incarnation of the Word of God – of His sharing in our flesh and blood. It is also a feast of fire for Simeon’s prophecy points to the Passion of which Jesus would later say: “I have come to cast fire on the earth and how I wish it were blazing already”.

Great joy and great pain can exist side by side for they are but two sides of the same coin – namely love. We see examples of this in the lives of Jesus and Mary, of Dominic and Catherine. The greater the love the deeper the joy but also the more one is called to let go of self, to sacrifice all for the sake of the Beloved. With Mary who comes to the Temple to offer herself with her baby Son to the Father you come to offer yourself today. We can trust the One into Whose Hands we entrust ourselves, with all that we are and have – He will not test us beyond our strength but will give us grace and strength in time of need – “because He has himself been through temptation he is able to help those who are tempted.” Like the refiner who sits and watches the precious metal, not allowing the temperature to get too hot or too cold, until he can see his very image in it – so too the Lord purifies us until we are transformed into His own image and likeness – we become another Himself, associated with him in His work of redemption. As we were reminded last week through our baptism and religious consecration Jesus associates us with His priestly work of intercession, interceding on behalf of the Church and the world.

In the Dialogue the heavenly Father says to Catherine “Dominic wanted his children to stand at the table of the Cross seeking only the glory and praise of God and the salvation of souls” (cf ch 158). Through her contemplation of the Cross of Jesus Catherine understood the immense love of God for the human family – she was bold in crying out for mercy: “O Eternal Father I know well that mercy is proper to you. Do not delay any longer in granting your mercy to the world. It is you who make them cry out”. Does this not echo Dominic’s own cry “O Lord what will become of sinners?” This is the cry which we as nuns of the Order of Preachers are asked to perpetuate as our constitutions expresses so well: “In the cloister the nuns devote themselves totally to God and perpetuate that singular gift which the blessed Father had to bearing sinners, the down-trodden and the afflicted in the inmost sanctuary of his compassion”. (LCM 35: I)

My prayer for you today, Cathy, and indeed for all of us is that we continue to say our ‘yes’ day by day, moment by moment, and allow ourselves to be transformed into His likeness for the greater glory of the Holy Trinity and the salvation of the our brothers and sisters.