This morning before Mass, when it was still dusk, we gathered in our Chapter Hall for the lighting and blessing of our candles. We processed through our still-dark hallway toward the choir singing antiphonally the processional antiphon for Candlemas Adorna thalamum tuum, but in English and Latin to a Dutch tune of the 15th century.

Adorn your bridal chamber, Zion!

Ecce mundi gaudia;
Come, all welcome Christ the King:
In te sunt solemnia.
O Virgo Maria, Dei plena gratia!
Today's feast is replete with meaning on many levels! Not only are we celebrating the day when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, but we also recall Mary's purification: the ritual ceremony a Jewish woman performed 40 days after she gave birth.

Today, also, the Church celebrates "World Day of Consecrated Life". This observance was begun by Pope John Paul II to recognize that contribution that Religious men and women make to the Church and society and to reinvigorate our own vocation to both present Christ the Light to the world but also to be the Light of Christ to all we meet.

Sr. Mary Anthony
There is an old wag that goes something like this: Young sisters look holy and they aren't; middle-aged sisters don't look holy and aren't holy; old sisters don't look holy and they are!

Without realizing it, we can sometimes fall into the mindset of our image saturated society and look at religious merely in terms of "looks". A community can be thought "holy" merely because it is full of young sisters while a community can be judged a "failure" because it is mostly full of old sisters. Neither is correct. In fact, one could say that a community that doesn't have sisters from all generations lacks a certain depth and doesn't adequately reflect the Church of which according to St. Augustine, the community is an image.

It goes without saying that any community cherishes the gift of its young vocations! They are our "future full of hope". But the older sisters are a invaluable witness to the gift of the grace of fidelity! Monastic life is commonly seen as a "white martyrdom" and our elderly sisters are the ones whose scars and victories over battles shine forth to us and encourage those of us who are younger (and in monastic life that is anyone in the monastery 50 years or less!) Their fidelity bears witness that Christ our Spouse will sustain us and brings us ad Patrem. In the end, He is all that matters!
In today's society fidelity is not a hightly esteemed virtue. Yet, today, Simeon and Anna are held out to us as models of fidelity and trust. God rewarded their long years of waiting and hoping coming to them as a little Infant and because they had "eyes to see" responded with joy when Jesus their Light came to them.