Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

‘Like a wedding …’

By Dolores Madlener

It was like a wedding Mass. The bride was nervous, waiting outside the open doors of the Monastery of the Holy Cross at 3 p.m. June 2. Her attendants fussed with her white floor length gown, lovingly sewn by an aunt. Relatives and friends sat anxiously in the small gothic church, sans air conditioning, as a string quartet played a Haydn Opus.

But it wasn’t your typical wedding. The bride, Twanna Patrice Bolling, didn’t wear a veil—no one would “give her away”—and she was waiting for Cardinal George, who would officiate at her consecration ceremony of a virgin living in the world.

The bride may have worn something borrowed and something blue, but the “something old” is the sacramental rite itself, dating back to the 4th century, when some women in the church felt called to this vocation, and men chose to become hermits.

At 3:05 p.m., a monk wafting an incensor, led the procession of priests and deacon. The people chanted, “Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice…” As Twanna preceded the cardinal down the aisle, flanked by two fellow-Benedictine Oblate friends, Rosalie Trovato and Carol Ann Caprini, she would be joining a handful of other women in the archdiocese. This vocation’s re-emergence is a fruit of Vatican II.

The consecrated virgin remains a lay person, “with her bishop as her guide.” Her duties are to pray for her diocese and clergy, attend daily Mass, pray the Divine Office, and support herself. She need not have any apostolate.

The cardinal’s homily remarked on the Gospel story of Martha and Mary’s roles. He praised the Benedictine monastery for its “core of hospitality,” for welcoming the Lord “and who the Lord sends.”

The ceremony required examination by the cardinal of Twanna’s resolve, and her answer to his three questions was, “I am [resolved].”

She prostrated herself as the Litany of the Saints was chanted, and the cardinal bestowed consecration. The monastery’s bell tower rang out in affirmation.

The church’s prayer of consecration, sung by Cardinal George, petitioned a Loving Father: “… Be yourself her glory, her joy, her whole desire. Be her … wisdom in perplexity, her protection in the midst of injustice … her riches in poverty, her food in fasting ….”

Just before the Sanctus, Twanna received her white veil, her ring, and a book of the Liturgy of the Hours.

She was a radiant and gracious bride. Applause rang out as she exited the church to a spirited work by Beethoven.

What has changed? There are still wars and rumors of wars; sports teams hit slumps. But something did change in the world June 2. Take him at his word, “Look, I make all things new.”