One of the great things about being a Franciscan is that our charism includes in its spiritual genes a childlike simplicity. Such is evident in our yearly celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas. All Poor Clare children residing at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville write a letter to St. Nicholas (whom we familiarly call “Holy Man”), asking him for 3 gifts. We also give suggestions to him regarding what he could give to other Sisters and offer our assistance in the making of such gifts. Mother Abbess collects these letters and with the help of Mother Vicaress, makes arrangements with “Holy Man” for his feastday. All the Sisters then become “Holy Man Helpers”, little elves who work diligently to make St. Nicholas’ feast a day to remember.
This year, the novices and postulants were given the assignment to sew a tunic (the garment we wear under the habit) for each of the Sisters. To make this project especially challenging, their novice mistress told them to use old tunic “parts” left behind in the cupboard by unnamed former tunic makers. I am pleased to report that said postulants and novices rose admirably to the challenge! Other genuine, novitiate-made gifts included several rolls of homemade habit tape, a set of curtains for the library and several pillowcases.
I must admit that the novitiate common room looks like a disaster area. Or perhaps you could say that it looks “lived in”. Lots of living, working and loving has gone on here! But it is all worth it as we give joy to our Sisters with our simple gifts. We will get cleaned up next week. Promise!