This is a very simple, family ceremony which we all look forward to on this day. Earlier, Sr. Mary Jeremiah gave Sr. Mary Martin a pack of beautiful holy cards depicting Our Lady with Jesus in her lap. It is a detail from our Nativity stained glass window in the extern chapel. Sr. Mary Martin has been busy writing a scripture quote and prayer intention on each one.
The three youngest sisters stand at the head of the Chapter Hall. The youngest (Sr. Maria Teresa) reads out the name of a sister chosen at random for a pack of cards. The sister kneels before the Infant Jesus and hears the next youngest sister (Sr. Joseph Maria) read out her patron saint for the year. Then the third youngest (Sr. Diana Marie) reads out the scripture quote and prayer intention. This year, Sr. Mary Martin chose quotes from Isaiah. Then, the sister kisses the Infant Jesus and goes back to her place.
After all have been read, including one for the chaplain, for the community and the novitiate, we sing the Magnificat antiphon of the patron saint for the community. This year we received St. Agnes of Montepulciano. Then Sr. Mary Martin prays the collect. "Our help is in the name of the Lord," she says and we respond, "who made heaven and earth."
We then go to to the community room for a morning of recreation. A box of chocolates given to us by one of our benefactors was passed around and we compared our gift from the Infant. One sister remarked that this is the third year in a row that she is praying for the sick!
Later, the community patron and intention will be designed and framed and hung outside the refectory as a reminder throughout the year. The novitiate sisters do theirs and hang it in the novitiate hallway.
Most monastic communities have this tradition in one way or another. As Sr. Mary Jeremiah said, "It's the same but different!"
Sr. Mary Martin received her holy card and patron card from the sisters.
Sr. Joseph Maria kiss the Infant Jesus hidden behind the kneeler. Sorry!