With only a couple months to go before the founding of a new house in the United States (Phoenix, Arizona), the Consoling Sisters’ annual investiture ceremony took place in Narni, Italy with 16 women becoming novices.
Four of the twelve postulants who became novices on the Feast of the Sacred Heart this past June are American. The others come from Australia, Austria, India, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigera, and Switzerland.
Two of them, pictured with U.S. District Vocations Director Fr. John McFarland, previously taught at Our Lady of Sorrows Academy. They are alumni of the vocations retreat Fr. McFarland preached during the summer of 2021. As of this date, the order has attracted a great number of American vocations, with 40% of the Consoling Sisters hailing originally from the United States.
Moreover, ten women (one Canadian and the rest American) took their first vows. Three of the sisters are being assigned to the new house located in Phoenix.
Founded in 1961 by Fr. Basilio Rosati, a Passionist priest, the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were entrusted to Fr. Emmanuel du Chalard of the Society of Saint Pius X by Ft. Basilio in 1996. Currently, the Sisters’ mother house is in Vigne di Narni, Italy.
Sermon on the Day of the Investiture:
Dear Parents and Families,
First of all, I would like to thank the church authorities and especially Fr. Sergio for making this ancient and beautiful Church of St Francis available for this ceremony.
Why we are gathered here today? In a few minutes, 12 young women will receive the religious habit and ten sisters will make their first profession, that is, to consecrate themselves to the Lord with vows.
It is fitting to explain the different rituals that accompany these ceremonies.
The first, as we have already seen, is when these girls dressed as brides entered the church accompanied by their father. What does this mean? The father accompanies his daughter to the altar to offer her to the Lord, to the Church. It is a very profound gesture. The father offers to God what is very precious and dear to him in this world. We know that parents are ready to do anything, even sacrifice their lives to save that of their children. And so accompanying the daughter to the altar to offer her to the Lord is one of the greatest sacrifices parents can make in their lives. It is a real sacrifice, a strong detachment because they know that now their daughter no longer belongs to them but they have handed her over to the family of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart to be at the service of Our Lord. The Church thanks you for your generosity, and you know that you can always count on the prayers of your daughters but also of her entire religious congregation.
For the girl, coming to the altar dressed as a bride means closing one chapter of life and opening another, to serve Our Lord, as it is written in the Gospel: “If anyone comes to Me and does not prefer Me to his father, mother,..., brothers, sisters, his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (cf. Lk. 14:26). In a little while, the priest will bless the religious habit in which the girls will be vested. This is the outward sign of the separation of the world and represents the first step of religious life.
After the Gospel will be the second part of the ceremony with the novices taking their first vow of poverty, chastity, obedience, and a fourth particular vow of the Congregation of the Consoling Sisters: to propagate devotion to the Sacred Heart with a resolve to honor and repair the offenses committed against Him.
Before the open tabernacle, they will make their vows. With this, it is no longer so much the parting from the world because they have already done so on the day of their vestition, but they consecrate themselves, they bind themselves forever to Our Lord, they take Him as their Bridegroom. So it is a much more challenging step, not only toward the Church and the religious family but especially toward Our Lord who will now be their Bridegroom. Outwardly, one cannot see anything, he hears only the words of their profession, but inwardly, concerning the spiritual point it is an event of great value. Only the spirit of faith can help us to discover what it truly presents. At this time will be the meeting with Our Lord accompanied by the whole heavenly court i.e., His Mother, the Angels and all the saints in heaven. Feasts, such as we have with the sacraments or ceremonies like today, are also feasts held in heaven. Jesus Christ is head of both the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. The Militant Church is inseparable from the Triumphant Church.
After they make their vows, the black veil signifying the final death to the world will be imposed, and they will receive a crown of thorns and a cross, two instruments of the Passion. This is very expressive; it is important to understand the depth of it. You know that Our Lord was crowned with thorns during His Passion to mock His Kingship, He who is the King of kings. It was an unprecedented humiliation for Jesus, the Son of God. By this Jesus wanted us to understand that by the humiliation of the Passion he saved us and that humility is the foundation of all virtues and therefore of sanctification itself. This applies even more to religious life, in fact the thorns represent the humiliations that often accompany the path of religious life.
Then, they will receive a cross, and not a small one, this also manifests an important aspect of religious life. As Our Lord said: take up your cross daily and follow Me (cf. Lk. 9:13). Or again: “He who does not bear his cross, and follow Me, cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:27). We all have to carry our crosses one way or another, religious or not, but in consecrated life one does not carry, one embraces the cross.
After the rites of vestition and profession, the most important moment of the ceremony will come, namely the Holy Mass. There is no more important function in the Church than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Of one part it makes present on the altar the Sacrifice of the Cross, not bloody but no less real. Then, there is the Eucharistic presence with the Body and Blood of Jesus which is also the food of our souls. In addition, the priest who offers the victim is always Our Lord. It is He who offers Himself to His Father. This is a great mystery that we could never exhaust, even if we celebrate or attend Holy Mass every day. It is the most important act of worship for the Church not only Militant, but also for the Suffering Church where souls are relieved of suffering or ascend to heaven. It is also a glory for the Triumphant Church where the heavenly court worships the Savior of the world and celebrate His victory over Satan. We will not fail during the Holy Mass to pray for the perseverance of the sisters who take a challenging step into religious life today.
Dear faithful, although the celebration will be a little long, think of it as hours of heaven where time no longer matters because with this ceremony you live a little in heaven, a little in eternity.
Finally, I cannot pass over in silence today's feast: the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A feast that sums up the whole life and mission of Jesus Christ on this earth and that continues in heaven, a work of love for the salvation and sanctification of souls, distributing infinite graces that come forth from His open Heart. The Heart of Jesus is an essentially priestly Heart. It is a Heart that infinitely loves souls.
And you know that the sisters by their lives, prayers and sacrifices, pray and offer themselves daily for the sanctity of priests who must continue the work of Our Lord on earth and for this, model themselves on His Heart.
For the sisters, it is always a blessing and an encouragement for their vocation to see so many priests present at these special moments of their religious life.
On this important day for these young sisters, let us turn to Our Lady to ask her to take them under her protection, and not only them but also the whole Congregation of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Fr. Emmanuel Du Chalard, SSPX