Scenes from Sunday's solemn profession of monastic vows by Br. John (left in top photo) and Br. Matthew. They're the guys with the daring haircuts--what we call a corona or tonsure. Here at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, the monk receives the corona twice--when he enters the novitiate, and when he makes his final vows four years later. Both signify the renunciation of his old life and his promised fidelity to the monastic way of life. Benedictines make three vows--stability, obedience, and conversatio (or conversion of life, which includes celibate chastity).
In the first photo, Br. John and Br. Matthew kneel in front of the abbot and the altar to sing the Suscipe ("Uphold me, O Lord, according to your promise, and I shall live. And do not confound me in my expectation.") They sing this verse three times, pausing to allow the fully professed monks of the community to repeat after them.
In the second photo, Br. John signs his vow chart upon the altar after reading it aloud. Next to him is Fr. Guerric, the novice-junior master.
In the final photo, the two lie prostrate and are covered with a funeral pall (the same used to cover a dead monk's coffin). While on the floor, one of the church's largest bells tolls solemnly while the community prays for their perseverance. This all signifies their mystical death and burial with Christ--and their resurrection in the monastic way of life as the pall is removed and they arise to receive their cucullas (choir robes) from the abbot.
It is a wonderful ceremony, and is rich in symbolism tied closely to that of baptism and funeral rites. Br. John and Br. Matthew have willingly given themselves over completely to seek God as monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey according to the Rule of St. Benedict. Congratulations to both of them, and may God's peace guide and sustain them during their monastic journeys.
I am next in line--in January, God and chapter willing.
Many thanks to Mary Jeanne Schumacher of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Communications Office for the photos.