Today, in the presence of his family, friends, seminarians, and his monastic confreres, Fr. Aquinas professed solemn vows as a monk of Conception Abbey. In the ceremony, Fr. Aquinas made a perpetual commitment to live as a monk of our monastery, vowing obedience, stability, and conversion of life. As you can imagine, this is an absolutely joyful occasion in the life of Fr. Aquinas, the monastic community, and the entire Church. Such an event is very fitting on this Saturday, celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
The profession ceremony took place within the context of Mass. After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Formation Director, Prior Anselm, brings Fr. Aquinas to the altar with hands joined. The Abbot begins the rite by calling forth Fr. Aquinas in the name of the whole community. Abbot Benedict sings, “Come, my son, hear me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Fr. Aquinas states his intention to profess vows before the Abbot, the community, and before Almighty God.
After the Abbot’s Admonition, Fr. Aquinas is free to come forward and profess vows, by reading aloud his profession document and signing it on the Book of the Gospels on the altar.
Once, Fr. Aquinas has signed his profession document, he stands before the altar and prays, “Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam, et non confundas me ab expectatione mea” (Psalm 119:116- Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in myhope). Fr. Aquinas sings this prayer three times, each time it is repeated by the solemnly professed members of the monastic community, who then add the doxology. It is a prayer of total surrender and trust in the Lord.
Then, the newly professed lies prostrate on the floor as he is covered with the black funeral pall and the bell tolls, which is symbolic of his death to self and his former way of life. The entire assembly prays for Fr. Aquinas.
Pictured below: Abbot Benedict, Fr. Aquinas, and Fr. Aquinas’ father.