Birthdays and more Birthdays

This month birthdays are on my mind, most likely because my birthday occurs in it, and no one would let me forget it! So, yes, we do celebrate birthdays in the monastery, but very simply, with cake and ice cream at recreation on a Sunday night for those sisters whose birthdays happen to fall in that month. The most interesting part is the traditional singing of “Happy Birthday to you,” which never comes out the same way twice, as the sisters love to improvise. Then, in our community anyway, we sing a second verse with the words, “May God bless you, may God bless you. Happy Birthday, dear Sister, may God bless you.”

But another important “birthday” I remember in August in the date of my baptism. It was then that a supernatural life began in me, when I was only a few days old, as I was “born again” of water and the Spirit. As the Catechism of the Church puts it:

Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte a “new creature,” and adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification—enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him ... giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit ... allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues. Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism (#1265,1266).

Still another sort of birthday happened this August with the death of one of our elderly sisters. She entered into the fullest life possible—eternal life with God. What was begun at her baptism and deepened through her religious profession has now reached its intended goal of union with God forever in heaven. Of course we do not presume that she is in heaven yet, and continue to pray for the happy repose of her soul. People kindly offer us their sympathies, and we are grateful for that, but we are also glad that she has gone home to the Lord she served so faithfully for 69 years in religious life. Yes, Happy “Birthday” to you, Sr. Mary of the Nativity. We love you and hope you are at peace with God—may God bless you!

P.S. As of this entry a second elderly Sister from our community is also drawing near to the end of her time on earth. We love you, too, Sr. Maria, and hope you will soon behold the face of God!

August, indeed, is turning out to be quite a “birthday” month!