29 December 2009

Christmas Ass is Retired

Perhaps some of our readers might remember last year's nativity billets where Sister Mary Blogger drew card no. 19, the "Christmas Ass." If you do not, don't be scandalized, just click here for the story. This year the sister erstwhile known as a beast of burden has been promoted to one of the shepherds. Although no one drew the infamous card no. 19, we did have two sisters who drew other animals, the lamb and the ox, to be exact. See picture below for the ox and lamb ... who kept time (cue Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.)

There are several shepherd cards to be drawn among the billets for the Court of the King and Sister Mary Blogger drew the following card:

No. 4
The Shepherds
Keeping watch over their flocks
(Saint Luke, II, 8.)
At the court of the King JESUS you will have the office of the Shepherds who kept watch over their flocks.

Remark that it is to poor, laborious, vigilant men that GOD first reveals the mystery of His birth. If you wish to partake of divine communications, detach yourself from the goods of earth, love labor, and watch over the flock confided to you; that is, over your heart and over all the powers of your soul.

Practice -- Vigilance
Aspiration -- O my JESUS, be Thou the guardian of my soul.

25 December 2009

Christus Natus Hodie!

We did it again! We cheated. We sang Christmas carols during the third week of Advent. This year our "Library Angels" and their musical companions were just stellar. Last Friday, some of our sisters gathered with our librarian (who manages to avoid the camera -- but for a cameo appearance seating people during "O Holy Night") and her angels as well as some alumnae and their families. As in the past, the hit of the afternoon was the "12 Days of Christmas" complete with illustrations and individual solos ... or in the case of the "partridge and the pear tree" ... it was a "Tree-O." We share three minutes of our fun time last Friday as we wish our readers a happy and holy Christmas.

22 December 2009

Thirteen Years Later

After the fire of 1993, which consumed the inside of our school building and drenched the chapel which connects the monastery to the school, we had our sacred spaces -- our chapel and our choir -- rebuilt and rededicated. On 21 December 1996, His Eminence James Cardinal Hickey blessed and reconsecrated the familiar space where we gather six times a day. With the permission of the Office of Liturgy and in accord with the general norms provided by the Table of Liturgical Days, the 21st of December is a Solemnity for our community: a six-candle, Gloria and Creed, white vestments, proper office, and pull-out-all-the-stops (okay, except the oboe stop, that one sounds funny) kind of solemnity. We have a great deal for which to be grateful and marking the anniversary of our chapel's rededication is a special way to do that. Below is a snippet from the second reading at Office of Readings yesterday. It is from a homily given on the day after the rededication: the fourth Sunday of Advent 1996. Serendipitously, the theme from the Song of Songs is always particularly special for us on the 21st of December since it is the first reading given to us by the Church -- to say nothing of an equally-befitting Gospel!

"I would like to speak about what takes place in this chapel today which continues to make it a holy space. My image here are the two principal characters in the Song of Songs . . . . You know the story well. It is a love story. They spot one another and it's love at first sight! Then they lose one another and search frantically throughout the city looking for each other. When at last they meet, they embrace and speak, heart to heart, these poignant words: 'Tenui nec dimittam!' -- I have hold of you and I will never let you go! . . . . That same story, in one way or another, is the story of each sister here. . . . They speak of their mutual love many times each day in this sacred space. . . . In addition to community gatherings here, each sister finds herself in this space in quiet and brief moments many times throughout each day, from very early in the morning to deep into the night. . . . For it is here where the Beloved awaits them."

Very Rev. Lewis Fiorelli, OSFS

18 December 2009

O Lord and Leader!

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: Veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Lord, and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the red fire of flame and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.

This antiphon refers to two accounts, in the book of Exodus, where God reveals Himself to Moses. The second encounter, when God gave the Law to Moses, is a very poignant encounter. The old covenant is ratified and the exchange between God and man is filled with imagery of fire and light. The fire which the Israelites saw atop the mountain was but an indication of the light that was to come in Christ.

The second part of the antiphon, "come and redeem us with outstretched arm," is an echo of Yahweh's promise to Moses that "I will free you from the burdens which the Egyptians lay on you. I will release you from slavery to them, and with my arm outstretched and my strokes of power I will deliver you" (Ex 6:6). The promise made to the people of Israel in the Old Testament is seen in its fullness when it is considered in light of Christ's redemptive death. As the people of Israel awaited freedom from their captors, so the Church awaits the birth of the Messiah.

What are some of the ways in which we can be held captive today? When we lose focus and replace Christ as the center of our work, our family, our ministry, etc., we are at risk of becoming a prisoner. Even something which is very good in itself, can cause us to lose focus. We can become so involved in one aspect of our life that it affects our relationships, our families, our ability to maintain balance and moderation, etc. Even a "good work" can be dangerous to our freedom if we do not keep Christ at the center all that we do. Whether we are students or teachers, parents or children, caregivers, social workers or soldiers ... we are free as long as we keep Christ at the center of all our actions.

14 December 2009

Christmas Entertainment

Looking for a family-friendly classic that isn't warn out with air time? A monastery favorite is the one-hour opera (English) by Gian-Carlo Menotti. This Christmas story about a crippled boy whose family provides hospitality to the magi on their way to Bethlehem is as inspiring as it is charming. To be accurate, we happen to own the 1978 VHS edition by Kutler (and not the RCA recording of the original NBC production, as pictured above.) This quaint holiday tale will be our movie of the month this coming Friday for locals who would like to join us for pizza and a movie before all-night adoration. Movie starts at 7.15pm.

10 December 2009

Religious Roadwork

You might stump the helpful worker in the orange apron if you walked into home depot and asked for a tool to help you "lower a mountain."

We hear so often, during this most sacred season of Advent, about the call to make straight the way of the Lord. We're told to fill in the valleys and level the mountains. And in today's first reading from Isaiah, we hear that the people of Israel, the beloved people of God (yes, believe it or not "worm" and "maggot" are terms of endearment ... lost somewhere in translation) will be made into an instrument to help along the roadwork: a sharp, new, double-edged sledge.

The Lord promises the impossible and asks us to trust Him. We are invited a clear a path for His coming. We are asked to discard all that is unworthy of the coming of the Lord. Perhaps we could think of that path as the road which leads to our heart. What do people encounter when they meet us? What kind of response do others receive when they ask us for a favor? Better yet: How do we greet those who inconvenience us? Are the mountains of our impatience and the valleys of our irritation stumbling blocks which might hurt someone who seeks our attention? Maybe we can't shave down all our mountains in one Advent season, but perhaps we can find a way around those we can't conquer right now -- a tunnel, perhaps -- which might help us to make a level road for all those who approach us. And when the waiting is over, may the newborn King find a smooth journey to our hearts.

"Fill up the valleys; that is, fill your heart with confidence and hope because salvation is near at hand. The sight of our great faults brings with it a certain ... shock ... which unnerves the heart and often leads it to discouragement. These ... ditches and valleys must be filled up for Our Lord's coming!"
St. Francis de Sales

06 December 2009

A Conspiracy Afoot!

If you are not one of the 900,000 plus people who have viewed this video, it's worth the two and a half minutes. Not all of us are in an position to raise money to make global changes, but all of us are in a position to give more "presence" to those around us this holiday season -- and beyond. If St. John the Baptist were alive today, he'd probably be a "conspirator" too. Hat tip -- er, veil tip -- to our good friend, Christy, who had this video posted as her Gmail status message yesterday! Thanks, Christy!

"True servants of God preach and teach those whom they guide only so as to lead them to God, as much by their words as by their works. This is what St. John does today."
St. Francis de Sales

02 December 2009

Indulge Yourself

Indulge yourself: come pray with us!

After two great announcements on the Zenit news service, (click here and here to read them) our Federation President, Mother Susan Marie from our Monastery of Brooklyn, has written a lovely response telling readers of our up-coming jubilee year and the plenary indulgence available to those who pray in a Monastery chapel during in coming year.

Here in Georgetown, we will be kicking-off the jubilee year on 24th January 2010 with a 10am Mass in our Nolan Center. All locals are welcome to join us for the occasion.

"Be strong, firm, constant and unchanging . . . . so that nothing may separate you from your heavenly Bridegroom who has united you with one another; may nothing take away from you that union which alone can keep you united with Him, so that, all of you having only one heart and one soul, He Himself may be your only heart and your only soul."
St. Francis de Sales
Introduction to the Book of Rules, 1618