Last weekend, in addition to the 168th anniversary of Liberia becoming a country, our church celebrated the permanent profession of a Salesian of Don Bosco. Cornelius U-Sayee, a young man who grew up in the parish and who was in discernment when we first met him about two years ago made his profession as a Salesian brother. We believe, hope, and pray that he will continue on to become a priest. From my limited observation, he seems to fit the charism of the Salesians well: using love and continual guidance to keep children on the right path, rather than waiting until they stumble to reprimand them. It’s a technique I’m trying very hard to use with my own children. Even though it’s harder to do, when I somehow manage to get it right, it seems to work better.
So, the mass took about three hours. Not bad, considering the lengthy process of the profession, which included a dialogue/questioning by the Provincial, the Litany of Saints, presentation of the candidate, making the promises, accepting the newly professed, and presenting symbols of the profession. It was really very moving. The newly-professed struck me with his humility in explaining why he was making the profession, and the joy at his profession was truly palpable. I always find that religious have this sense of joy about them, and he had it.
Now, we could have done without the dancing, and without the brass band at the end of mass. At one point, an American religious sister (who has been here some 30+ years and is something of an institution) signaled the thurifer to get moving up the aisle when escorting the offertory gifts (presented by the family of the newly-professed) rather than dancing in circles and making such slow forward progress. I will say that his movements did ensure copious amounts of smoke coming from the censer.
Afterwards, my children and I were discussing the mass and what they noticed. Yakum, the eldest, noticed the candle that was used during the profession, and how that reminded her of the Easter candle and baptism. Exactly. She also said she noticed the liturgical dancers in the processional, the (quasi-) Gloria, and for the Gospel Acclamation. She said it seemed distracting. This was a good opportunity to emphasize that mass is about focusing our attention on God, not on each other, and that all the actions during mass should direct our attention to the altar and the sacrifice that happens there. Even this mass, in which a person made promises as a religious, was about God. He talked about how was going to serve God, to use the gifts and talents God had given him, and how he was responding to a call from God. I think Yakum and Ikinji (the second-oldest) got what I was saying, and understood the importance of what they saw.
Even though it was a little rough on the twins (three hours in a church is hard on not-quite-three year olds), I’m glad we went. If nothing else, I was honored to add my prayers for Brother Cornelius, the Salesians in Liberia, Africa, and throughout the world.
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us.