On this feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph to whom God entrusted the care of Our Lady and His Incarnate Son, we ask his protection of Mother Alma throughout her vowed life here and hereafter; and may the stability, conversion of life and obedience she promises today open to ever new horizons of seeing the creative possibilities even in seemingly impossible challenges.
Let us pray to the Lord.
May your gift, Mother Alma, as an artist allow you to courageously encounter negative space as a positive invitation to live with it ‘til you can see where the light and shadows meet, revealing a form longing to be discovered and given a body...and God may just be trying to take a picture!
Let us pray to the Lord.
In gratitude for the many family and friends celebrating with us today, that together we may be a prayerful support to Mother Alma throughout her vowed life. Let us pray to the Lord.
Mother Abbess' Prayers of the Faithful
Oh glorious Saint Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor. Obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins. To work conscientiously, placing love of duty above my own inclinations, To gratefully and joyfully deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, To work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work, above all with purity of intention and unselfishness. Having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I must render of good not done, talents unused, and vain complacency in success. All so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, oh patriarch Saint Joseph. This shall be my motto for life and eternity.
Prayer to St. Joseph for Laborers
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
On the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2014, Mother Alma Egger made her Final Profession of Vows to God through the Community of Regina Laudis. Her parents Eleanor and Fred, extended family, friends and colleagues joined the monastic community in celebrating the moment when “Sister Alma” became “Mother Alma”.
Father Robert Tucker was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass offered in the Abbey Church of Jesu Fili Mariae. Father Vincent Salamoni, Father Douglas Mosey, Father John Young, Father Peter Kucer, and Father James Nolte were concelebrants.
Mother Alma is an accomplished artist. Before entering the Abbey in 2001, she received her Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and was Director of Art Education at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. During her years at the Abbey she has put her artistic gifts at the service of the community especially in her design and fabrication of coffins for the community in our carpentry shop. She is a member of the New Horizons design group. She is also in charge of the Abbey's wood lot and has many faithful customers who come to buy wood every year. Mother Alma is a Zelatrix, responsible for introducing the postulants to the rules and customs of our community. As one of our shepherdesses, Mother Alma has cared for our two llamas, Giselle and after her death, Tinkerbelle, exquisitely sensitive animals who guard and protect the flock.
In his homily Father Tucker spoke of St. Joseph as the just man, open to God's will, who not only heard the message of the angel in a dream, but acted on it. He said that likewise when Sister Alma felt the working of God in her heart she acted upon it and pursued her vocation to Regina Laudis. Now in becoming a Mother in the community she would be called upon like St. Joseph to take a backseat and fulfill what is asked of her in service and humility and in faith, without knowing the outcome.
In the act of Final Profession a nun of Regina Laudis makes a promise to God according to the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitutions of this Abbey. A very sobering moment in the ceremony is that of the Challenge when Mother Abbess, raising the Holy Rule for all to see, presents the candidate with the law of the Rule she is choosing to follow, giving her one last chance to reconsider. This challenge comes directly from Chapter 58 of the Holy Rule (The Order for the Reception of Brethren) but the musical and visual form it takes at Regina Laudis was introduced by our Foundress Lady Abbess Benedict. In response the candidate sings:
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord.This moment captures the public nature of the Final Profession Ceremony and the desire of the nun that her family and friends and the entire Church witness and pray for her as she makes this radical binding commitment.
Behold the law under which you wish to serve; if you can observe it, enter; if you cannot, freely depart.
The three vows taken by a Benedictine, presented by St. Benedict in Chapter 58 of the Rule are: Stability, Conversatio Morum and Obedience. The vows of Stability and Conversatio Morum are unique to Benedictines. Stability implies not only binding oneself to the physical "place" and land that is Regina Laudis, but also the personal identification with the spirit and aspirations of the community. Conversatio Morum, rooted in the Latin "conversatio" complements Stability, and asks that the nun be willing "to change" every day of her life.
The Newly-professed nun is clothed by Mother Abbess in the full monastic cowl, a pleated garment with flowing sleeves, reserved for praying in Choir and a sign that she is ready to take on the mantle of obligation for the Work of God in Vowed life. She also receives a black veil which replaces the cream-colored veil she received at First Profession and she is now called "Mother".
SAINT JOSEPH THE PROTECTORWhen Mother Alma greeted her guests at the Jubilee Barn and explained the theme of the feast that most resonated with her, she told them:
You never know what has been conceived in another.She went on to say that this newly-conceived life needs protection and St. Joseph, in protecting Mary and Jesus, was the model she wished to emulate. Since the Profession Mass was offered on the first anniversary of the inauguration of the Petrine ministry of Our Holy Father Pope Francis, Father Tucker gave each of us a copy of this beautiful excerpt from Pope Francis' homily on St. Joseph the Protector:
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a ‘protector’ because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
Homily of Pope Francis, Saint Peter's Square, March 19, 2013
Gallery of Final Profession Mass and Celebration
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