Jubileum is the 50th anniversary celebration of a Sister (or in the Begijnhof’s case two Sisters) who made her life profession 50 years ago. It is much like a golden anniversary for wedding and marriage vows. It is all about the vows, the permanent commitment which so many are afraid of these days. Anyone, nun, monk, priest, married, who can make a vow and then keep it for 50 years with the ups and downs of daily life has my felicitation!! “My vows unto the Lord I will fulfill” Psalm 115. My parents were married 50 years and we celebrated. Now I celebrate with two of the Begijnhof sisters. There are mountains and flat places on a journey of 50 years and God himself is accompanying the travelers.
Today was a wonderful day: it dawned beautiful and sunlit — a minor miracle in itself for Belgium where rain is more of a common occurrence. Matter of fact, good weather has blessed the whole week for the visitors, which were many for the two Sisters, from as far away as islands in the Atlantic and mountains in Europe. What a joyful day! Flowers were everywhere: red and white roses, lilies and gold sprayed fronds from the islands. Every statue had its private arrangement. I loved it and kept spying new fresh flowers arriving as well as many pounds of seemingly endless cookies and chocolates. The Begijnhof can open a store! Sisters do not keep their personal gifts, they are given to the Prioress who then wisely allocates them. All of us will share in the great bounty bestowed for the Jubileum.
The Jubileum was appropriately held on the Feast Day of St Andrew the Apostle and Simon Peter was his brother so it was perfect for two sisters celebrating together. Andrew was of course the fisherman whom Jesus called as his disciple saying, “Come, follow after me and I will make you fishers of men.” No doubt these two Sisters have been fishers of men throughout the many years they served in parishes and especially now at the Begijnhof where guests come regularly to the guesthouse and the United Nations streams through the church and the courtyard as tourists. As we in the monastery say, there is no retirement from our very special call: these Sisters will continue to be fishers of men.