Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fall Moves into Winter

Observing the dying of the old year in our part of Virginia is like watching at the bedside of a hospice patient.  There is the slow but inexorable approach of death signaled by progressive weakening, withering, fading life, although punctuated at longer and longer intervals with sudden spurts of energy and warmth.  It is the perfect time of year to contemplate our mortality.  The liturgy too, urges us throughout the autumn month of November to meditate on the “last things”, death, judgment, hell and heaven.   Poor Clares call November our “monastic Advent” which is a jump-start on liturgical Advent.  Usually it is a quiet month, though this year it was full of the busyness of home improvement projects.  We thank God that these have reached their successful conclusion and we can now turn our sights fully on the work of “preparing the way of the Lord”.

Our Golden Jubilarian was interviewed by Catholic World Report at the end of November, resulting in a dramatic increase in prayer requests coming to us over the internet!  We added a gold star to Sister Charitas’ already golden year for her marvelous answers to the reporter’s questions without having the opportunity to review them ahead of time.  No surprise there, however, since she is our reliable, on the spot substitute for a Sister who has forgotten to write her petitions for the Prayer of the Faithful at Holy Mass.  Here is the link to the article:Catholic World Report interview with Sister Charitas

One of our cherished Poor Clare Advent customs is to light our Advent wreathe before each of our meals in the refectory.  In the evening, the Sisters take turns offering a prayer before the lighted candles.  One Sister was struck by an article given to us about the astronomical phenomenon taking place during this year in the constellation Virgo, so she took that and wove the themes of Advent and the approach of winter into her prayer.

Advent Prayer

O loving Maker of the stars and earth,
Our world’s bright sun is dying in our sky.
The days are short and nights are long.
Each dawn reveals a fresh embrace of death:
Withered leaf,
Blighted lawn,
Naked branch of tree.

But every twig bears its mystic bud,
Where life, asleep, dreams until the Spring.
The wearied sun lies solaced
In your Mother’s arms,
A fickle moon is still beneath her feet,
While steady stars,
And errant planets
Play about her face.

Tonight we pray that you and she
Will keep the lights of heaven safe,
And us who wait through all the winter’s dark
Until you come to birth.

In the cold days ahead, please know that we keep you all warm in our hearts and prayers.  Blessed Christmas and New Year’s celebrations!  By the way, our Midnight Mass is at midnight for those who would like to join us!