Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Giving

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

Christmas preparations at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville are almost complete! 

Our newest members have proven to be marvelous festive bakers and wonderful decorators.  They decked the downstairs halls with boughs of holly and greenery yesterday while the rest of us tackled the other rooms of the monastery. 


Tonight we will place the ornaments on the lighted trees.  Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, Mother Abbess will distribute the donated poinsettias which will add their vibrant red to the quiet evergreens.  Their contrasting colors seem to echo the song of the heavenly host, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…”

This is the season for giving gifts, and our benefactors inundate us with their loving generosity, for they see in faith the gift we have made of ourselves to God on their behalf.  In today’s second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that when Jesus entered our world, He said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me…as is written of me in the scroll, behold I come to do your will, O God.”  Until Christ came, mankind could only offer token sacrifices to God, but now, in Jesus, we can offer ourselves along with Him to the Father, by the action of the Holy Spirit.  Poor Clares are called by God to image this reality in a radical way.  When we enter the cloister, we too echo Jesus’ words:  behold I come to do your will, O God!”  Possessing nothing in poverty and possessed by no one but Him alone, we are exclusively His.  Yet our union with Him is not a closed circle, but a fruitful nuptial embrace that expands to include the whole world.  We are Sisters to all of creation and every human being is our child whom we nurture with loving prayer.

May each and every one of you be blessed this Christmas with the gift of divine peace which comes from the assurance that God is with us, Emmanuel!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Lights

On shortest day of the year, when the sun sets earliest and the night is longest, we put up our Christmas tree lights!  Come, Jesus our Light!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Immaculate Conception 2012

That as the Heavenly Father prepared Mary by her Immaculate Conception to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word, so may all who are called to serve God in a priestly or religious vocation have confidence that they too will have every grace they need to fulfill their mission in the Church.

That the laws of our country may again reflect the conviction that every human person is a being to be cherished and reverenced from conception to natural death.

That sinners may look with hope to her who is sinless and yet is also our Mother of Mercy.

That we who were not immaculately conceived, nor blameless in our living, may forsake all denial and subterfuge, so that we may face God our Father in honest humility and entrust ourselves to Jesus our Savior who purifies and clothes us in His forgiving love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday of Advent 2012

Happy New Year!  No, I am not early, for today is the first day of the Church’s liturgical year.  I just got used to remembering that we were in Year B for the Sunday readings and today we begin Year C!  Yesterday we made our large Advent Wreath that stands in the middle of our monastic refectory (where we eat together).  At the beginning of our meals we observe the ancient custom of lighting a candle in honor of Christ our Light who is to come.  In the evening, each Sister takes a turn offering an advent prayer.  Here will be tonight’s prayer:

Blessed are You, O Jesus, our Savior, and our only hope.

Jesus, You are the rising flame dispelling every darkness.
Enlighten our heavy winter night.

Jesus, You are the descending heavenly dew.
Melt away our hoary, morning frost.

Jesus, You are the ever green standing amid the naked woods.
Wreathe our noon-day death in Your all fragrant life,
as we await the blessed advent of Your incredible spring.  Amen.

Blessed Advent Season to one and all!