Oh Come, Divine Messiah! The joy of Our Lady is truly ours in this Advent Season leading up to the luminously beautiful celebration of Christ’s Birth. One of the blessings of living in the Monastery is that of being free from the hustle and bustle that has come to be associated with preparation for Christmas. While there is much to do during Advent, we can still focus on preparing for the coming of the Infant Jesus. Like most folks, we accumulate a lot of “excess baggage” on our pilgrimage to Heaven. Silence helps us discover that baggage and rid ourselves of it. During Advent we enter the “desert” of Silence in greater depth. Saint Mother Teresa gives us five ways to practice silence: eyes, ears, tongue, mind and heart. By closing our eyes, ears, tongue, mind and heart to the noise of uncharitableness, untruths, and selfishness, and opening them to the beauty and goodness of God as witnessed in others, we shed our excess baggage. This will make our journey to Bethlehem a joyful and light-hearted one.
Of all the “firsts” that a postulant experiences in the monastery perhaps the most memorable is her first Christmas. Our new postulant, Sister Anna, the second oldest of a large Catholic family, grew up in Bethel, Ohio. She entered the Monastery on October 1st, after graduating from Northeast Catholic College this past May. Sister’s most recent Advents were probably spent studying for exams—quite a contrast to the Advent Liturgy’s solemn countdown to the Holy Night. Yet to come is the increasing drama of Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass and the characteristically monastic (but not dull) celebrations in honor of Our Lord’s long-awaited appearing on earth.
As Marbury is far off the beaten track, we were totally surprised when we received a call informing us that the Master General of the Order of Preachers, Father Bruno Cadoré, O.P. wanted to visit us this past October. Our excitement was not the least dimmed when we later learned that he would be arriving about 8:00 p.m. and leaving early the next morning. It was a great honor and delight for us to receive the successor of Saint Dominic in our midst. How grateful we are for Father Bruno’s thoughtfulness and solicitude for the Nuns of the Dominican Order.
High School Football teams usually have colorful names indicating how ferocious they will be on the field. We are familiar with the Lions, Tigers, Cougars, Bull Dogs, Wolverines, Knights and Pirates, Yellow Jackets, Hornets and Bees. When she heard the name of another team recently, however, Sister was a little puzzled. Was SQUASH BUGS really the best they could do? Fortunately, a Sister with better hearing assured her that the name was actually SWASHBUCKLERS! (The devastating attacks on our cucumber plants can testify, however, that a team named Squash Bugs may well be undefeatable.)
“Bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells! What a fine monastic life their melody fore-tells!” With our apologies to Edgar Allen Poe, our life in the monastery is filled with the “tintinnabulation” that rings to mark the time in our daily rhythm of prayer and work. In this particular case, we are thinking of the chimes of the grandfather clock which now stands in slender majesty in a niche between our community room cabinets. A true grandfather clock, it was assembled by the grandparents of one of our Sisters, and was brought down to us after they both passed away earlier this year. Now, as it chimes the quarter hour throughout our times of work, or announces (with undue cheerfulness!) the end of evening recreation, we pray for their souls and praise God for the many “bells” which lead us too towards Heaven.
Our Lady’s memories of the life of her Son are what make up the beautiful chain of the mysteries of the Rosary. At Fatima, Our Lady asked in every apparition that we pray the daily Rosary. As Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, we constantly ponder the mysteries in and through Mary’s Heart. The Rosary is so powerful. May we all pray it for peace, for our country, and for the whole world.
May you have a joyous Christmas and every blessing in the New Year!
Mother Mary Joseph, O.P. and Sisters