S: Sister Maria Amata
2: Father Enrique Lopez Escalera’s Homily at the Investiture of Our Dear Sister Amata of the Heart of Jesus July 16, 2011
3: On this beautiful day the Gospel is once again actualized, "Behold my servant, my chosen, my beloved in whom I delight." And so God delights in you, dear postulant Kim, and soon you will be receiving a new name expressing that delight of the Lord. I want to greet Mother in a special way and thank her for this invitation. It is a joy for me to be here with this wonderful community. | As I mentioned at the beginning of Mass there are no coincidences when it comes to God's grace and lights in his beautiful plan. And today we are under the special protection and the special mantel of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. She has given to the Church the habit, not to be worn only by those who have been consecrated to religious vows, but in her great motherly and tender love she has given the scapular to all the faithful to highlight this important gift: the habit. Thanks be to God that dear Mother Mary Francis did not give an inch. Like the battle of St. Paul with the Judaizers who were spying on the freedom of the children of God, and St. Paul boldly states, "We did not give an inch!" And the secularists were spying on the freedom of the daughters of God and Mother Mary Francis and other great souls did not give an inch. Thanks be to God. Thank you for wearing the habit and thank you for such a great gift.
4: I welcome Kim's parents and family and other friends that come from Las Cruces including my mother. Mothers have a sense of what is important. And so I also take this opportunity to recognize the women in the congregation who are wearing the veil. A very laudable practice for 2000 years that women have worn veils when they come to Church. It makes no sense that a generation should let go of such a beautiful and very meaningful tradition. The woman is veiled by nature and, is to be unveiled only in love and so this is part of this bridal significance. And so when a woman is veiled it is not a sign of oppression, which is ridiculous, but it is a sign of a presence of a modesty, of a beauty that woman is, of when a woman is about to be a mother. And so I want to take a moment to recognize such a wonderful gift that women are to the Church. And as women wear the veil to Church it is a symbol of reverence and of devotion.
5: The "sensus fidelium", that is, the sense of the faithful, fully understands and joyfully proclaims this truth: of course, Mary was the Mother of God from the beginning. My grandmother who did not have a theological degree and who did not even know how to read or write has said, of course, the "sensus fidelium" understands this. If she was not the Mother of God from the beginning then she would never have become the Mother of God. Grammatically speaking, this is an awkward statement. However, it expresses the truth. If Mary was not the Mother of God from the beginning then she would never have become such, since identity is present from the beginning: we become who we are. We become who God has called us to be. This is the mystery of every vocation. | This is at the core of the identity of every human being; if a zygote is not already a human it never will be! The same truth is attested in the supernatural level as well: "In the womb of your mother I called you." "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you a prophet to the nations I appointed You." Jeremiah reminds us of this.
6: For sure, later on in time this calling must be "actualized." It must be concretized through the human "yes" in response to the gracious calling of Almighty God. "Here I am, send me," (Isaiah 6:8). The crystallization of a vocation is the meeting point of two sovereign and free wills: the Divine and the human. In fact it is only when we say yes to the Lord that we become free! The world does not understand this, the world says, “No, I will do whatever I want.” It is the sure course towards slavery. Freedom is exercised in the loving response to grace; we are never freer than when we say yes to the Lord. All praise and honor to Almighty God! | As I stated earlier, this is the mystery of a religious vocation: God calls us and that call gives us an identity from the beginning. Grace is not imposed; only when we respond is the divine calling made a reality. Such is the humility of God; such the sublimity of love. No violence is involved; only the gracious surrender that liberates. | This is the case of the Most Blessed Virgin when all creation, and in His amazing humility God Himself, held his breath waiting for the response from her virginal heart. But let us be taught by a Doctor of the Church. I think you immediately know who I am speaking about in Bernard of Clairvoux. It is one of the lessons in the Christmas cycle. But let us listen to St. Bernard expressing this amazing reality:
7: The angel waits for the answer: it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We, too, 0 Lady, are waiting for the word of salvation, we who walk so miserably bent under the sentence of condemnation. Behold the price of our redemption is offered to you; if you agree, we shall be instantly free. We were all made by the eternal Word of God, and behold, we are dying. By one single word from you we shall be revived and called back to life. Tearful Adam with all his grief, Adam with all his wretched offspring, implores you to say that word O gracious Virgin. Abraham, David and all the other holy patriarchs, in your ancestors who dwell in the shadow of death, beg you to say that word. The whole world is waiting for it, prostrate at your feet. And they are right, since there depends on your lips the consolation of the wretched, the redemption of prisoners, the freedom of the condemned, and finally the salvation of an Adam's children, of your whole race! Hasten then. Give the answer that earth and the underworld and even the whole heavens are expecting from you. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. In this matter alone, oh prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now necessary. (St. Bernard of Clairvoux, Super Missus est, I,7PL 183, 59 D).
8: God does not force us, God invites and God waits for our response. In the light of faith and based on the reflections we've been making, we can say, dear postulant Kim, that your dear mother gave birth to a Poor Clare nun. However, this Poor Clare nun will continuously be incarnated in investiture. It is so beautiful: incarnation, investiture, by taking on the clothing. So this Poor Clare nun will continuously be incarnated through the various "yeses" that actualize that given identity. Today we celebrate, in a most solemn way, this incarnation through investiture, through the taking on of the holy habit. This yes will resound, in a special way, when you profess solemnly the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; vows that stem from a human heart and are directed to the Heart of God, binding yourself forever in an act of immolation. Such is the great dignity of the consecrated person manifested in this binding of your lives to God through the religious vows. This is, again, the amazing gift of human freedom; in binding yourselves to God you are actually being freed. These triple vows, based on the evangelical counsels, take on a further personality in the Poor Clare nun through the observance of penance and enclosure.
9: You will say "yes" and become a mother by becoming a bride. It cannot be otherwise. Consecrated virginity and spiritual motherhood go together. Awesome indeed are the mysteries of God which today we are privileged to celebrate. A man who is worth his salt will kiss the ground where a Poor Clare nun walks. So to, he will kiss the ground where a mother walks, if necessary consecrating that ground with his whole love. Not so the brute, the "macho", the pagan, that is to say the man who has betrayed his whole masculinity and is no longer good for anything. He has lost his salt. He is to be trampled, ironically, underfoot. His incapacity to die for a woman is not mere cowardice. It is the ultimate aberration of a self-centered man. Women, virgins, mothers, be beautiful. Sanctify this world. The world is embarrassed to speak of virginity. If mentioned, the world blushes, not in the rosiness of revelation and respect but in the scarlet of shame. Virginity is now closed, stale, wasted, rejected, dried up. No, virginity is the ultimate challenge to selfishness and to death. It is joyful, fruitful and expansive. Only a virginal heart is truly universal.
10: Now, how is this maternity to be lived out? My dear Sisters and Mothers, and dear brothers and sisters, we will never know on this side of heaven how many souls have been snatched from the jaws of hell through the prayers and penances of a Poor Clare nun! Today hell trembles and the devil is furious because one more holy habit has been blessed, because one more holy habit will go to the very jaws of hell there to snatch souls away. Our hearts and minds are filled with the most sweet emotions just to think of the encounter of such souls in heaven! Imagine the gratitude of a soul who is being snatched from mortal danger. Imagine such a soul expressing gratitude to the Poor Clare: "Thank you for praying for me, for fasting for me, for doing penance for me. The fires of hell were already singeing me and your motherly love brought me back; your womanly heart - virginal and motherly - could not stand that a son of God should perish. The burning and purifying charity of your penance rescued me from the destructive fires of hell. Thank you!"
11: Yes, this is the vocation of a Poor Clare nun! Today as we celebrate the taking on of the holy habit by one of the handmaids of the Lord, we thank God for his mercies. I am sure that the responsorial psalm today can be a personal hymn to sing the mercies of the Lord. His mercy is everlasting. My dear Sister, be of brave heart. Not a single tear of love shall be wasted; not a single act of penance shall be spoiled. In the consummation of your oblation to love all shall be purified; all shall be redeemed; all shall be saved! | you, for saying yes to the Lord. Thank you, dear Sisters, once again for wearing the holy habit, sweet Brides of Christ Crucified. Follow on bare feet the trail blazed in Blood by the One who called you from the beginning; your betrothal shall be consummated on Calvary. For this you were created, oh woman; for this you were called; for this you have received this holy habit. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
12: Prostulant Kim wearing a white bridal dress and veil, comes first to the novitiate where the whole community gathers before Lauds, She is given a palm branch (in memory of Mother St, Clare) and a candle where all Sister's candels are lighted from hers.
13: We then go to the choir in procession, singing. Lauds follows the Holy Mass. The holy habit, cord, crucifix are blessed by the celebrant at the beginning of Mass.
14: After Holy Mass, we go in proceesion to the chapter room for the actual ceremony of investiture. There is a breif Scripture readings chosen by postulant to be invested, after which Mother Abbess gives a short homily on the spirit of the Order. The postulant;s hair is then cut by Mother Abbess and plaved in a small ornate basket.
15: The breviary and crucifix are then given to the new novice, after which the mark in religion which will be hers is given and explained.
16: Finally her new name and title in religion is announced Sister Maria Amata In the Heart of Jesus