A final “Yes” during the pandemic

 

It has been more than a week since I made my final vows.  Today I am writing to tell you about that Saturday, October 17th.  From the bottom of my heart I can tell you that I am happy.  Happy about God’s “YES,” about mine, and about the Fraternity’s yes.  Happy, too, for the joyful celebration we were able to have.

 Thank you to everyone who prayed with me in Berlin.  Some traveled a long way to be able to participate in the Eucharist, even knowing that afterwards they had to leave because the celebration was limited to 10 people.  I also thank all those – little sisters, family members and friends – who accepted my request to forego participating because of the restrictions and did so with understanding hearts.  Thanks to you all who prayed with me in very different places on the day of my vows.  I felt as if I was being carried along by a fragile piece of fabric.  In my heart it extended over the whole earth, a fragile piece of cloth suspended by a silk thread.  For me it is a marvelous image of what the Church wants to be and must be by its very nature.  In this sense, I am also pleased with the ecumenical dimension of our celebration: Isolde, who is a Protestant Pastor and friend of the Fraternity for many years, prayed next to Brother Franz Leo (a Franciscan priest) in the sanctuary.  Ulrike, a friend from my time in Halle and also a Protestant, sang the Litany of Saints.  The more I think about the day of my profession, the more I recognize a great gift in the simplicity and sobriety of the celebration, a kind of wink from the little Jesus.  We did not choose the circumstances, but we accepted them.  After doing so, new things became possible and finally the celebration was harmonious.  Yes, in a way, it was fitting and corresponded with who I am and to my way of living my faith in the Church.  It probably also corresponded to all of us Little Sisters of Jesus.

                                                              

When I recall the Eucharist, I especially remember two "images."  The first, the little Jesus.  We had placed him in front of the stone altar - simply lying on a cloth, with two lights beside him.  He seemed tiny and almost lost in the enormously spacious church.  And yet he caught my eye again and again.  And when I entered the sanctuary to prostrate before the child during the Litany of the Saints, it was for me a very conscious step towards the manger and a happy "yes."  Deep in my heart I also remember the moment of the blessing that Brother Franz Leo and Isolde pronounced together.  This common prayer was so simple and beautiful, so "right and just"!

                                                             

And then there was the "red thread."  The first time it appeared was in front of the church after Mass when we gathered for a group photo.  We positioned ourselves at the right distance from one another while staying connected - the thread we stretched between us making that possible.  It continued to accompany us during the evening, without our having planned it.  At the beginning Katharina Ruth surprised us with a little skit to prepare me for South Africa and, at the same time, to send me greetings from the whole region.  Thank you for the many beautiful pictures of all of you, which make the "rope" visible and help us continue the journey together. 

I would like to end my letter with a word that we repeated several times and sang about during the Eucharist, along with a thought from the homily.  Let us look once again at little Jesus.  "Let us trust in life, for we don't have to live it alone.  God lives it with us." Alfred Delp wrote these words in prison with his hands tied, at the age of 37, and with death staring him in the face - perhaps in the darkest hour of his life.

These words tell me that, deep down, it's all about trust.  Trust that God keeps his promise.  Trust means that we, too, learn to open our hands and our hearts and expect and hope for everything from Him.

lsr Teresa Johanna

 
 
 

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