On several different occasions, I have been approached and asked why I wear a simple gold band on the ring finger of my left hand since I am a Catholic sister. The question is usually followed with another question, “Nuns aren’t supposed to get married, are they?” (The difference between a sister and nun will have to be addressed in another post!) Let me start out by telling the history of my ring. When I was thirteen my father died from emphysema. At that time, I was wondering how I would manage in life without my dad, entering religious life was not on my radar. After my father’s death, my mother was in possession of his wedding ring, among other items, that had belonged to him.
Now fast forward twelve years, when at age twenty-five, I began my journey of discerning and answering God’s call for my life. I was in the initial stages of formation in religious life (pre-novitiate and novitiate) and after three and a half years of prayer, life in community, and discernment, I was requesting to make temporary profession of vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and instruction in the Ursuline way of life. In view of this preparation for my first profession of vows, I was very cognizant of a faithful love that would be necessary in such a commitment. My thoughts were drawn to my dad’s wedding ring and how it was a symbol of the commitment of the love between my mom and dad. They remained faithful to one another through their vows of marriage…in both the high and low points of life. With this in mind, I went to my mom and asked if I could have the ring. Thankfully, she said yes!
When people ask me the question about wearing the ring, I share that it is a reminder and symbol of the vows that I made to God and to my community. Like the circular shape of the ring, God’s love for me has no ending. Each day is an opportunity to renew and be faithful to my yes to following Jesus…in both the highs and lows of life. Each Wednesday, during our communal evening prayer, we say this opening prayer: “We pray together with Joseph, husband of Mary, and foster father of Jesus; help us promote family life, especially by our example, as we struggle with the constant conversion needed to live community life with our sisters and co-workers.” The prayer indicates constant, over and over again, conversion. That ongoing conversion is essential in all walks of life. Especially these days when it seems that many people focus on what is wrong with another person or group of people. How do we take personal responsibility to fix those things that might not be right within ourselves and allow that conversion to flow out to those we encounter daily?
This Friday, January 27th, Ursulines around the world will celebrate the feast day of our founder, Saint Angela Merici. I am grateful for Saint Angela’s yes to God and her founding of a company of women! May each of us pray that Saint Angela, Saint Joseph, our mother Mary, and all the saints intercede on our behalf and help us to remain faithful to our vocational call.