In exchanging the white veil of the novice for the black veil of the professed nun, the young Poor Clare assumes her full responsibilities as a member of her Order: prayer, penance, fidelity. For embracing the hard and austere things that lead to God, the vows bring a marvelous strength. One is truly bound to Christ now by a mutual covenant of love to which He is unfailingly faithful. To the ordinary three vows of religion: poverty, chastity, and obedience – the cloistered Poor Clare adds a fourth vow to observe enclosure.
“Christ has set a seal upon my face that I should admit no other lover but Him,” sings the young professed Poor Clare. Simple vows are made for a period of three years, but in the heart of Christ’s bride, they are already made forever. No one makes provisional offering of herself to God. No one promises to be His for a while.
Holy Church wisely legislates that simple and temporary vows precede the total commitment of the religious by solemn vows, but she does not legislate for the heart. The young professed is free to whisper to Christ in the inner court of her being, “Forever!” On the day of her solemn vows, she will make this a public declaration to be accepted and sealed by the Church.