Advent arrived with all December’s wild, winter wonder. We anticipated Advent’s beginning with a Saturday morning retreat open to both our Sisters and all the Christian faithful. While the wild howled outside, the retreatants gathered around the theme “The Dance of Darkness and Light”. Sister Penny built her message around the images of darkness and light, as found in the Scripture readings for the Advent season and among some spiritual writers in the hopes of helping us to approach and appreciate the dazzling mystery of the Incarnation, of God being born as human, as one of us.
Advent at the Monastery is a time of hopeful waiting and quiet, this is reflected in our daily practices and communal preparation. Our morning silence is extended until 8 o’clock, after our morning prayer and breakfast. Supper will also have a time of quiet listening to readings chosen to help us reflect on Christ’s Incarnation, Henri Nouwen’s reflections from “Unto Us a Child is Born.” This form of communal listening and learning comes from Saint Benedict’s Rule:
The meals of the sisters should not be without reading. Nor should the reader be anyone who happens to take up the book; but there should be a reader for the whole week, entering that office on Sunday. Let this incoming reader, after Mass and Communion, ask all to pray for her that God may keep her from the spirit of pride…Then, having received a blessing, let her enter on the reading (RB 38).
The Monastery itself is waiting. In the keeping of Advent, the Sisters have greenery bedecking the Advent wreaths in our living rooms, Chapel, retreat spaces, and even the dining room. The colors of Advent; the deep violets, purples, and rosy-pinks, are found in candles, banners, and ribbons around house and Chapel. However, we wait to break into our Christmas decorations; all the tinsel and twinkle lights, Nativities and Magi are waiting until we near the end of the Advent season.
The newest addition to our Advent at the Monastery is a “Desert Day”. On December 22nd, the Sisters will be setting aside their Saturday busy-ness and most of our duties to enter more deeply into Advent waiting, reflecting on the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation and anticipation of waiting for Jesus’ Triumphant Return. While we will gather for communal prayer in the morning and evening, the rest of our day we are encouraged to seek that Advent Light of the Lord through our personal prayer, Adoration, art, nature…however the Lord leads us.
Let us arise, then, at last, for the Scripture stirs us up, saying, “Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep”. Let us open our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with attentive ears the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us, “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts”. And again, “Whoever has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. And what does He say? “Come, My children, listen to Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord”. “Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you” (RB Prologue).
Blessings to you,
Return to “One Heart and One Soul”