Monday, July 05, 2010

Meanwhile in the South Pacific...

Today was Sr Fay Josephine's perpetual profession day. Samoa being six hours "behind" us, Mass may still be going on. (They really celebrate their liturgies in the islands!)
Not only are our provincial, my local superior (Samoan) and two other sisters there, we heard that there were no more flights between American Samoa and Samoa because every seat had been booked by people attending the vow ceremony.
Sr. Fay has been in our prayers all year as she and Sr. Christina Miriam joined the program in Italy to prepare for this big step, which Sr. Christina will take next month (after the provincial has had the chance to get over the 7 hour jet lag). Special features of the perpetual profession liturgy include the solemn blessing of the new professed, in which the priest or bishop invokes the various holy women of the Bible; the welcome from the superior who witnesses and receives the vows, along with the biblical promise, "you shall receive the hundredfold and life everlasting" and the assurance, "from now on, all things will be in common among us"; and the formal "missioning" of the sister to her assignment. (That much, we already knew: she will be assigned "to bring the Gospel to the Church of New York," where Sr. Fay will become the manager of our Manhattan book center.)
Of course, the Samoan liturgy has some distinctive features of its own, such as the draping of a lei around the Book of the Gospels. The first time Sr. Lusia (our superior here in Chicago) saw this, she felt the symbol strike deep in her heart: leis are never draped around things, only around persons. Like the Living Word. There are also ceremonial dances, like the one performed by Sr. Fay's cousin for her first profession. And since in the Samoan culture, the gift of highest value is a "fine mat," this is also used in the liturgy. This is an immense and finely woven carpet of reed or grass-like fibers. (I remember Sr. Lusia's father, a "talking chief," carrying the fine mat up the aisle at her profession. He had such a regal air about him, and the finely woven, wheat-colored mat was draped so beautifully over  his fully outstretched arms.)  Also, if someone commits a crime against another member of the community, their forgiveness and re-entry into society really depends absolutely upon the victim or the victim's family. The repentant offender has to remain outside of the victim's home, day and night, rain or shine, however long it takes. When the family comes out and covers him with a fine mat, he is forgiven. So in Sr. Fay's first profession, the fine mat was also used in the Penitential Rite. (I imagine it is also being used today for her perpetual profession, but I haven't heard.)
Congratulations, Sr Fay! "From now on, everything will be in common among us!"

1 comment:

Margie said...

Heartfelt congratulations to Sr. Fay, FSP. May God bestow upon Sr. Fay abundant temporal and spiritual blessings. It would be great to collaborate with her in New York. Enjoy the beauty of Samoa for now.