In anticipation of the First Profession of Vows of our Sisters, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity recently celebrated a Blessing of Habits and Veils Ceremony at Evening Prayer. This ritual has been part of the First Profession Ceremonies of our early Franciscan Sisters since our founding in 1869. A special Ceremonial book, composed by Archbishop Frederick Katzer of Milwaukee for all the steps of Initial Formation, is a treasured item in our archives. The blessing of signs of religious consecration is truly a tradition of important significance.
Religious habits are among the most recognized sacred symbols in our world for they proclaim that the wearer is consecrated to God. It is very fitting to bless these garments as one would bless a cross, rosary or Bible. In the current rite the Sisters carry their habits in an entrance procession following the priest. Walking in this order is symbolic.
The procession resembles our funeral processions where the body of our loved Sister follows the priest. It is a reminder of leaving this world and being a sign of the Kingdom of God.
Father Hilary Brzezinski OFM, Friar of Assumption BVM Province, prayed these words of blessing during the Saturday evening prayer.
Let us pray: God, You clothed Your Son with our mortal flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Bestow a rich blessing upon these garments and grant that they who them may be a sign of the resurrection to come and put on eternal life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: God, you have called Sister Colleen, Sister Clare Rose, and Sister Cecilia Joy and have desired to form a Covenant of love with them. We ask you to bless these veils. May they be signs of the Covenant. We ask that they who wear them may continually grow in their response to You and live so as to show that they are totally given to You and dedicated to the service of the Church. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen
Following the Closing prayer and blessing, our Franciscan Community sang The Blessing of St. Francis for the Novices during this moment of grace. This hymn, often sung with three part harmony, is our way of praying for each other or others with heart-felt Sisterly love. May the Lord bless you!