Friday, July 12, 2013

Falling in Love

Fall in Love

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything. 

-Pedro Arrupe, SJ

S. Donna offers her homily
Sister Donna Steffen, Andrea’s and my new Novice Director, offered us these words as part of her homily during our Novitiate Opening Ceremony on June 26th.  The special moment happened on the first day of the Gathering, an event that occurs every four summers.  All of the Sisters of Charity and Associates that are able come together at the Cincinnati Motherhouse for a week of fellowship, prayer, learning, and fun.

The ceremony marked for us the beginning of Canonical Novitiate, the next step on the journey to becoming a vowed Sister of Charity.  This is a sacred time that every person who wishes to become a Sister or Brother will experience, as directed by canon law (from the Vatican).  The program varies depending on congregation, but the idea is the same:   a year “set apart” with a focus on prayer and solitude and going ever deeper into one’s relationship with God.  And so, Donna invited us “fall in love” totally and absolutely as we consider giving ourselves and our lives as Sisters of Charity.
Novitiate ceremony
Novitiate ceremony

S. Joan, me, Andrea, and Donna
What an honor it was to stand on the altar where so many Sisters have walked before as we made our commitment to the Novitiate.  The Motherhouse chapel is alive with their spirit – the spirit of women who are and were deeply in Love with God.  Love is what has seized their imagination; Love gets them out of bed in the morning.  When we stood up to face the Sisters and Associates and our family and friends, I just plain bawled from all of the Love that was filling that Chapel clear up to the ceiling.  The President of our community, S. Joan Cook, introduced us to the community as “Sister Andrea Koverman” and “Sister Tracy Kemme.”  S. Lois Jean Goettke, a member of the Leadership Council, adorned each of our dresses with our official SC pin.  I cried again, amazed with joy and gratitude.

I wish all of you could have felt the undeniable presence of Love that was just as real as the air we were breathing.  As we processed out of the ceremony – Joan, Lois, Donna, Andrea, myself, and S. Janet, who was our Affiliate Director – it was like walking on air.  Andrea and I couldn’t keep the smiles from bursting off of our cheeks, and when we reached the back of the chapel, we leapt with joy and hugged everybody in sight.

New novices, overcome with joy
With Mom and Dad after the ceremony
Two weeks into Novitiate, the transition is still fresh for me.  Newness is always good and tough at the same time.  But, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m already a tad bit in Love, and that makes everything worth it.  During this year, we’ll have three days a week of study, a day of volunteer ministry, and one day designated as “Sabbath Day.”  During our free time, we’ll be fully involved in our house community with Sisters Carol, Maureen, Nancy, and Terry, and with the wider congregation that surrounds us here in Cincinnati. 

And of course, Andrea and I will be opening our hearts wider to God, hoping to find God and knowing that God will certainly find us.  Some might see the choice we’ve just made as crazy or incomprehensible.  But, really, it’s all about love, and what could be more practical?