We pray that in this sacred season, you are able to take a deep breath and slow yourself in this Paschal Triduum. Here at the monastery, there continues to be a balance of work and prayer. To help us in keeping Christ’s Paschal Mystery foremost in our thoughts, we add a profound silence for these days. Benedict instructs his monks:
“Let us do what the Prophet says: “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue. I have set a guard to my mouth.’ I was mute and was humbled, and kept silence even from good things” (Ps. 39:2-3). Here the Prophet shows that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times to refrain even from good speech, so much the more ought the punishment for sin make us avoid evil words” (RB 6).
This silence begins after our Celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday and continues until Holy Saturday afternoon in our house. It means that we are keeping silence during some of the busiest times in the monastery for our Sister Liturgists, Bakers, and Sacristans! As they go about their service to their sisters, the silence slows the hurry, gentles the worry, and brings Christ’s peace to whatever they are called to do.
The cooling rack was filled with trays of neatly arranged hot-cross-buns for lunch on Good Friday. Sister Baker had begun her preparations on Holy Thursday, but the final crosses were pipped on the buns Friday Morning. This spiced sweet dough, studded with currents reminds us of Christ’s Passion and Death for us, but the sweet icing Cross keeps us from forgetting the gift of our salvation through His suffering.
The counter was prepared for working sweet dough for Easter Sunday caramel rolls! One of the Teaching Sisters joined the Baker in the silence of the bakery. A few soft words were offered in reminding the sister to take care when rolling the dough.
Soon the rhythmic clink of the rolling-pins, tic of the ovens warming, and other homey sounds filled the bakery with a gentle music for reflecting on the day. The yeasty scent of the soft dough mingled with sharp wafts of cinnamon as the sisters sprinkled layers of filling and rolled the dough for cutting.
These sticky rolls won’t be served until Easter Sunday morning. However, they will not be a surprise. As the sisters rolled and spiced, the smell of fresh cooked caramel, sweet yeast, and later the tempting aroma of fresh bread, lead many sisters into the bakery for a quick peek at what was being prepared for our Easter celebration. An often repeated reminder of today’s fasting kept curious fingers away from caramel dripping down the sides of fresh cinnamon rolls.
This balance of work and prayer, silence and service, today and tomorrow continued throughout the house. Sister arranging the thorns and nails on the refectory tables, so even at meals we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice. Sister Sacristan setting out the cross for adoration while remembering to water the lilies and iron the white altar cloths that won’t appear until Easter Vigil. Sister Liturgist arranging the booklets for today’s prayer and worship, but thinking ahead to the candles for Saturday night.
Outside of these sisters helping the community live and celebrate these days of Paschal Triduum, the sisters of the monastery were also striving to keep this thought-filled silence. A silence that invites us into a deeper relationship with Christ and experience of His Paschal Mystery. We invite you into this silence in your own home that you may be ready to join in with full-voice the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection and promised return.
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