On September 1st, four of my Dominican brothers and I made our first profession of poverty, chastity, and obedience. When I returned to my seat among friends and family I felt different: I now belonged totally and completely to God. No longer could I say that there was any part of my life that is not His.
My classmates and I had been preparing for this day since we entered the novitiate and received our habit. The part of our Mass of First Profession that moved me the most was when we prostrated ourselves on the ground with our arms extended in the form of a cross while our brothers and guests sang the prayer Veni Creator Spiritus, Come Creator Spirit, over us. In our bodies we were imitating Christ on the cross, while in our souls, my brothers and I took the next step in following our vocation to conform ourselves more closely to Christ crucified by living these vows.
In imitation of Christ who sacrificed Himself on the cross for the salvation of the world, we offered ourselves to God for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel. Saint Thomas Aquinas describes religious as those “who give themselves up entirely to the divine service, as offering a holocaust to God.” In the Old Testament, a holocaust was a sacrifice to God where the entirety of the animal being sacrificed was burned as an offering. In the other types of sacrifice, the priests would consume the rest of the offering, but a holocaust was unique, since every part of the sacrifice belonged to God and nothing was held back. By professing poverty, chastity, and obedience we offer ourselves as a holocaust to God. In this way we unite ourselves with Christ’s own holocaust to the Father on the cross.
For this reason, it does not feel so much as the end of my novitiate year, but it marks the beginning of what Saint Thomas Aquinas called the “school of perfection.” By living the vows we are aiming to order everything in our life towards God for the sake of the Church and the proclamation of the Gospel. This is admittedly a daunting task, but a task that is much needed, especially in today’s world.
Please pray for us as we embark on this journey. I know that if there is one thing I have learned during my first year as a Dominican, it is that I can do nothing, “but with God all things are possible. ”
-Br. Nathaniel Maria Mayne, O.P.
Click HERE to view photos from First Vows
Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE