The Lay Cistercians of Holy Cross are observing their annual retreat at Holy Cross Abbey this weekend. On Saturday, 26 May, after Midday Prayer, the Lay Cistercians joined the monks in choir for their profession ceremony. Abbot Robert reflected on the Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians (Eph 3:14-19), as a preparation for Pentecost and our openness to receive the Holy Spirit. He cited the teaching of Ailred of Rievaulx on the Third Sabbath. The First Sabbath is, of course, Saturday in every week; the second Sabbath is a “week” of Sabbaths (plus one, for good measure) or Fifty Days–Pentecost. The Third Sabbath is seven weeks of seven weeks (plus one for good measure) comprising the rest and restoration of the Jubilee, every fifty years. St. Ailred related these Sabbaths to three kinds of love: the love of self, the love of neighbor and the love of God which enfolds the love of self and neighbor.
Fr. Joseph Whitstock, their Spiritual Director (Fr. Joseph also serves as chaplain to our nuns in Crozet, VA) then called the nine Chapter members of the Lay Cistercians (those who have already taken their vows). They stepped forward and re-affirmed their vows. Next he called three who would take their vows for the first time: Peggy Anderson and Al and Mary Ann Pierce. Each read the profession formula, signed it and placed it on the altar. The moving ceremony ended with the Abbots blessing and a hymn. The entire lay Cistercian group, Chapter Members, Novices and Observers later joined the monks to chant the First Vespers of Pentecost.