Daughters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Bui Chu sisters and their parents march in procession into the church for their professions in Nam Dinh province on Sept. 7. (Photo: dongmancoibuichu.net)
Last week I attended a special Mass where a dozen young sisters took their first vows and the same number of others took final vows at a congregation in northern Vietnam. I saw some young nuns shed tears while they marched in procession into the church. I quickly said to them: "Please don’t cry! Be joyful!"
After the Mass, I was told about the tragic situation of a new confessed nun whose mother passed away months ago while the nun was in the novitiate and her younger sister studied at a college away from home. Her father died from a heart attack as he prepared to mark the 100th-day anniversary of her mother’s death.
I was deeply moved by the nun’s heart-rending story. Her only sister was present at her profession of vows but her parents missed it and are no longer with her. Those who knew her story and met her on that day broke into tears.
Earlier I also was at a ceremony of profession of vows at another women's congregation. Two young sisters could not make clear statements of their vows as they wept uncontrollably.
Tears of sisters are not different from those of others. Everyone has cried one time. Men cry and so do women. They shed tears for various reasons — sadness, pain, memories of loved ones, and sometimes joy and happiness.
It is not strange that people weep but I always reflect upon our women religious crying.
On the day the religious take their vows, they are squealing with great delight since their dreams of being God’s nuns come true and they become members of congregations. Rites of confessions are held solemnly with high attendances. They weep tears of joy.
Also on that day, their eyes fill with tears in front of their parents, siblings and relatives, whom they have not met for a long time since they have had to train at novitiates and had no contact with outsiders. They see hardships in their parents’ faces and personal growth and development among their nieces and nephews. They cry tears for family reunions.
On that day, they formally profess three primary vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, also known as the evangelical counsels. They remember enjoying the atmosphere of their sisterhood in the convents and doing daily pastoral activities with sweat and joy. They have looked after patients, people with physical disabilities and elderly people, and offered basic education to children from poor families. How blissfully they follow God in their consecrated life. Tears brim in their eyes in real gratitude for the congregations.
They volunteer to walk on the cross road with their Lover, Jesus. They are both happy and a little worried. Many times they had to obey their superiors’ ideas that sometimes are against theirs. They felt sad and bored with biased and unfair treatment, being misunderstood and confused. On that day, they renew the vow of obedience one more. “It is me! God calls me!” They are too moved to say vows clearly.
They trust in God’s promise as Psalm 126 says:
Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.
Huong Viet is the pseudonym of a sister based in Vietnam. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.