“The deepest desire of a woman’s heart is to surrender herself lovingly to another, to be wholly his and to possess him wholly… only God can receive this complete surrender of a person and in such a way that she does not lose but gains her soul.” -St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Sister Shawn Pauline of Carmel

What was or were some of the highlights for you from final profession?

– The greatest highlights were having all of the people that I love the most in this world, and all the people that I love who are now in Heaven, present to witness my espousal, total and definitive forever, to Jesus Christ.

Receiving the ring was the fulfillment of our Carmelite habit. I have desired to have it for a very long time and I feel that it is a fulfillment of my heart that is simply indescribable.

The prostration. I know that this lasted only for about ten minutes, yet I realized that it was the moment when I, like Queen Esther, was able to bring before the throne of Grace all the intentions on my heart, confident that the King of kings would hear and answer my prayers. I know that for the rest of my life I can relive that moment, like a certain anemnesis, and add any intention that I want, whenever I want. I deeply felt the prayers of every saint and all of Heaven praying for me.

If you could describe final profession in one word would it be and why?

Joy!!! I have never been so happy in all my life, and I felt deeply in my heart, that day, that everyone present on earth and united in the mystical body was able to share in that joy and all the graces of that day. It was as if the joy was flowing from God through me to everyone else.

If you could share something about the beauty of religious life with others, what would it be?

You loose nothing when you give everything to Jesus. You receive Everything when you give everything to God .

“Man cannot truly find himself until he has made a sincere gift of self.”- Blessed John Paul II

Sister Isabelle of Our Lady of Hope

What was or were some of the highlights for you from final profession?

Seeing all of the priests come up around the altar for the consecration was a moment of grace. It was an experience of the intense love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I could hear Him saying over and over again, and each time more powerfully, “I lay down my life for you”. Each priest stood facing us, witnessing to the love of Jesus with their very lives. In response to His love, the four of us were also laying down our lives, publically professing our love for God and His Church. The gift of ourselves was united to the gift of Jesus on the altar.

If you could describe final profession in one word would it be and why?

Jesus. This day was all about Him. His beauty. His goodness. His grace. It was the happiest day of my life because the Holy Spirit helped me keep my eye on Jesus, receiving His love, loving Him in others and forgetting myself.

If you could share something about the beauty of religious life with others, what would it be?

Religious life is a miracle of grace. The Holy Spirit unites women from all different backgrounds and with all different personalities into a real family, ready and willing to sacrifice for one another. I love my Carmelite family and I know I am loved by them. I have truly experienced the love of Christ through my Sisters’ forgiveness, patience, sacrifice, celebration, heart to heart sharing, and joyful acceptance. My Sisters have been instruments of God’s healing love in my life. GOD REWARD YOU!

Sister Marie Estelle of the Holy Spirit

What was or were some of the highlights for you from final profession?

-The highlight of my profession would be the experience of beauty I had throughout the whole day: the beauty of my sisters’ selfless pouring out of themselves in the wedding preparations, the beauty of the gift I have been given in my formation as a Carmelite Sister, the beauty of the friends and family that traveled to California for the profession, the beauty of the Church, especially in having almost 20 priests present, the beauty of the liturgy and the music, and, of course encountering and being espoused to Jesus Christ forever, He who IS Beauty! To receive Him in Holy Communion was a very special moment of grace.

-The prostration and the Litany of the Saints was a moment I had longed for! During the litany we implore heaven for the graces we need to be set aflame with His love and faithful to our vows. It is a powerful moment of grace for the one professing, but also for all of Holy Mother Church. I implored God’s mercy and grace upon all the many souls who are in need, especially His beloved priests. I had witnessed the ordination of a deacon while I was in high school and at the moment when he was lying prostrate, I felt within my whole being that the Lord was asking me to do the same. I knew that my happiness meant that I must lay down my life and live only for Christ and His Church, for in Him is our infinite joy. What happiness to be a Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, FOREVER! My song of gratitude shall never cease!

-Bringing up the offertory gifts with my sisters was a special moment for me. With ring securely on my left ring finger, crown upon my head, and my vows of espousal spoken after the Litany of the Saints, I felt a profound joy and peace flow within me as we brought the wine and bread to Father for consecration. Following the Cross bearer, we were led forward by the cross of Christ to offer our gifts to the King and to immolated with Him in the sacrifice of my life.” I felt totally “His.” The Profession rite was complete and we were totally given to Him who is LOVE.

If you could describe final profession in one word would it be and why?

Gratitude- I cry out with our Blessed Mother, “My soul magnifies the Lord” Luke 1:46, for all the blessings I have received. My life and vocation are pure gift and my soul sings and magnifies the Lord for His goodness to me. for Gratitude: “I am grateful the gift to be called to live the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. These are the precious jewels that he has given me as an eternal wedding gift, so that I may live more closely the life he lived while on earth. I pray that I may have the joy of vows fulfilled! What happiness to die a Carmelite!

-Touched by His love, He has drawn me to Himself to be His Bride forever.

– I am grateful for the saving love of Jesus. I stand before His Infinite Love and marvel at the relationship He desires to have with each of us.

If you could share something about the beauty of religious life with others, what would it be?

-In religious life, one strives to live on earth what we all shall one day live in heaven. Christ, we know is the Bridegroom of the Church and in heaven we shall all be united in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The Church throughout all her centuries has always had the living witnesses, reminders of what the future age shall be. These men and women, in religious life, by following Christ more closely, teach the world that human power, treasures and pleasure all pass, and the only thing that shall truly ever satisfy all our longings is God. We long for the infinite, where tears and pain shall be destroyed, and we shall experience everlasting happiness. We know that this will be fulfilled only in heaven. And so, religious life is not about all the good works we may do (serve the sick, educate, instruct others in the spiritual life) but about who we are: witnesses of being espoused to Jesus Christ and pointing the way to heaven. He is the answer to the deepest needs and longings of the human heart.

-Religious life has taught me that I am loved unconditionally by God and my sisters, despite my failings and faults. There is a beauty in living a deep Gospel life which includes our sacramental life, death to our false selves and sin, forgiveness, sacrifice, and prayer. There is an experience of true joy and ever expanding freedom when living the life of the Spirit through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Sister Faustina of Merciful Love

Only July 15th, 2012, I had the immense and incomprehensible grace of being eternally espoused to Jesus Christ through perpetual vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This day will forever stand as the most important of my life for it was the day that I freely gave my whole self to Love. In union with the three sisters I professed with, I had been preparing and living for this offering for more than ten years.

When I first ‘heard’ God’s loving invitation to be His spouse, I had very little idea what this call entailed. Since then, I have come to know and experience that Religious Life allows one to embrace the way of life which Christ chose for Himself. He was poor and dependent on the Father’s providence; we are poor and dependent on the Father’s providence. With a heart wholly given to the Father, He loved universally; we, too, seek to love God with an undivided heart and to love our neighbors with a universal love. He was obedient unto death; we freely offer our wills to the Father through our obedience to our superiors. In this way, we are able to follow our Spouse more closely and make His very life present in the world for all to witness. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) All the faithful have received this outpouring of God’s Love through their baptism. In God’s providence, however, He has nurtured this baptismal grace in the souls of some so that it may blossom into a desire to respond to God’s Love with an exclusive love. Those who respond to this invitation feel most deeply that they must repay Love with love.

This Love- received and freely reciprocated- impels one to make a bold and brash gift of self, a perfect holocaust in which nothing is held back from the consuming fire of this Love.

So, the day of days had arrived. Escorted down the aisle by my parents, joyfully surrounded by family and friends, spurred on by the faith and example of my religious sisters, I dared to approach the altar of mercy to lay down my life in union with my Spouse. The church resounded with the solemn promise to give all: “For the honor of God…I, Sister Faustina of Merciful Love, vow forever, chastity, poverty and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles…” Moments later, my Spouse lovingly placed a ring of betrothal on my finger and a crown of His glorious beauty on my head. Then through the hands of His priests, He united my humble gift of self to His own, as He offered Himself to the Father in a supreme and eternal act of Love. In the Eucharist, our hearts were bound together in the greatest of mysteries. I am forever and entirely His. He is forever mine. All of heaven and earth, all of time and eternity, rejoices in this great exchange. And joy unimaginable fills the hearts of the Betrothed.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:19-20