34 years ago today, about 4:00 in the afternoon, I entered the convent and came to live in this very house. (My roommates at the time--in the very same room I am currently occupying--are now Sr. Julia Mary and Sr. Christine Virginia.) So today's first reading has a particular kind of resonance for me. In it, the Israelites have just entered the Promised Land, and before they move, clan by clan, into their distinct territories, Joshua relates their "salvation history"--but from God's perspective, not theirs. In God's name, he tells them, "I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant."
That was true for me, too, when I came here at 18 and found spacious buildings and a lovely chapel, food on the table (and sisters around it). Others had "done the labor and I had come into the gain." Many of those who worked and prepared so amply for me then are here in this house today: Sr. Sharon Anne (then Sr. Mary Irma), who met me at the Eastern Airlines terminal of Logan Airport to welcome me to my new home, sat a few rows behind me this morning at Mass--it was almost the same pew she occupied as my Postulant Directress! Sr. Mary Timothy, who was the local superior of the New Orleans community when I entered and kept my family involved in community events back home is now in our "senior sisters" wing here (but still busy making lovely rosaries for the New Orleans center). Sr. Mary Veronica had a basted-together postulant's uniform ready for me when I entered (Mother Paula had given her a surprisingly accurate size estimate for the custom-made habit); she is here, too.
Other sisters with me at Mass came after I did. I approached Communion side by side with Sr. Kathryn James, who just celebrated her 25th anniversary. Coming at the end of the Communion line was Sr. Chrissy, the organist, a junior sister who will be going to Rome at the end of the month to prepare for final vows (next summer) along with Sr. Fay, with whom I've been singing for three weeks.
The Responsorial Psalm is just right for me on this special day: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: His mercy endures forever.