Thank You!

Wow! Last Friday we wrote a blog post inviting all of our friends to help us finish the new wing by helping us to furnish it through our Amazon Wish List and Bed, Bath & Beyond Registry. What an amazing response! Package after package was delivered, and we are so thankful for your generosity! It looks like there is only one product left un-purchased on the Amazon wish list, but there are plenty more items on the BB&B registry including much needed bedding for the new guest rooms. We know not everyone is in a position to donate items to the new wing, but just as important are your prayers for the wing’s successful completion!

Last night Sr. Mary Catharine and Sr. Judith Miryam did a “show & tell” at our evening recreation, unboxing all of the items for the community to see and reading off the names of all of our friends who donated them! We are so grateful for your support; be assured you are in our prayers!

Want to Help Finish the New Wing?

You might recall that when the construction of the new wing was begun around this time last year we were given Christmas Eve (2018) as the ‘move in’ date. Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Unfortunately the crew endured the rainiest, muddiest construction site that they’ve ever experienced. If it wasn’t raining this past year it was snowing. This pushed the ‘move in’ date back….way back! Thankfully once the exterior was completed, as well as the new drainage system, progress picked up. The new wing no longer looks like a gingerbread house to passing cars, but a beautiful extension of our monastery. The inside is beginning to look ….well, why don’t we just show you?

Exterior of the New Wing

Interior of the New Wing

You can find a plethora of pictures on the Centennial Campaign’s Instagram and Facebook pages. As close as the wing looks to completion, there is still a lot to do, and we need your help! We are still short of the final cost for the construction of the wing; you can help by donating to our Capital Campaign HERE. As the wing nears completion we also need to start procuring the necessary furnishings. If you’d like to help furnish the wing, we’d love for you to visit our Amazon Wish List or our Bed Bath & Beyond Registry to see if there is anything you’d like to contribute!

We’re looking forward to the opening of the new wing, and we hope you are too because you are invited to the Dedication Mass and Open House of the New Wing on May 18th at 10am! Come celebrate with us and see what your donations and prayers have accomplished!

Thank you for all of your help in making this dream a reality!

Feast Day of St. Margaret of Hungary

Today is the Feast of St. Margaret of Hungary, the Hungarian princess turned Dominican nun. Her father, King Bela IV of Hungary promised to give his daughter to the praise and worship of God in the Dominican monastery if God would protect the country from the Tartar invasions. God did indeed protect Hungary, and King Bela did place his little daughter in the monastery….before later trying to remove her for the purpose of marrying her off to secure peace. To avoid such a fate Margaret received the consecration of virgins; this is the only time ever mentioned in the annals of the Order that nuns received the consecration of virgins.

Our monastery has a great love for St. Margaret. Known for her ascetic abstinence from washing/hygiene, our soap department took St. Margaret as its patron. St. Margaret’s had a very interesting, although short, life, dying at the age of 28 from an 8 day illness. You can read more about her life in Margaret: Princess of Hungary, written by S.M.C. of the English Stone Dominicans and re-published by our publishing house, DNS Publications a few years ago.

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Usually we listen to a recorded lecture/conference/etc. at our noon meal, while at our evening meal we listen as one of the sisters reads. In honor of St. Margaret’s feast day we did things a little differently today. Recently Sr. Mary Martin was able to obtain the Latin annals of Margaret’s process of canonization and has been working on translating them into English. At dinner, Sister read from her notebook part of her translation of the testimony of one of Margaret’s fellow nuns. It is very interesting, and we look forward to hearing/reading the rest!

Solemnity of the Mother of God

It’s been awhile since we updated the blog, which means a lot has been going on! We rang in the New Year as usual with the drawing of patrons in our Chapter Hall after breakfast. The three youngest sisters (this year an aspirant, Sr. Lauren, and Sr. Lucia Marie) stand at the top of the Chapter Hall and call out each sister’s name (along with a few extras: Father chaplain, the community, the novitiate) . When her name is called each sister goes up to kneel before the baby Jesus in His crib and her patron “Saint” for the year, her quotation, and her prayer intention are read. Saint is in quotation marks because not all of the patrons are canonized Saints, for example, this year the patron “Saint” of the community is Christ the King! Once you’ve received your patron, etc. you kiss the baby Jesus and return to your place.

New Years Day is also the Solemnity of the Mother of God and thus a day with extra recreation, talking meals, and candy! Our benefactors and friends always give us delicious treats for Christmas so the little candy table gets quite a few visits! Since the morning (as well as the afternoon) were free recreation some of the sisters took advantage of the extra time to play one of our favorite games: Settlers of Catan. Since you can only play with 6 people and a few sisters had to come in and out due to their rosary times or kitchen duties we had a few teams so more sisters were able to play.

In the evening there was a performance by the Band of Beginners (aka the novitiate). The members and instruments may change, but the band remains! This time we had Sr. Maria Johanna on Clarinet, our aspirant on Classical Guitar, Sr. Lucia Marie on Piano, Sr. Lauren on flute, and Sr. Mary Ana on the Violin. They were very nervous! Some of the sisters are new to their instruments and some are teaching themselves to play. They did a lovely job preforming O Holy Night. Especially considering that the flute Sr. Lauren was playing (which is probably older than she is) is broken, the end piece being held on (crookedly) by a rubber band or two. She had taken it back apart to put away when the community called for an encore. Out came the purple rubber bands to put the flute back together!

Solemn Chapter of the Nativity

Sr. Mary Catharine’s Solemn Chapter Sermon:

My Dear Sisters,

This Advent I have been reflecting a lot on light. Most likely, this is because of our building which is nearing completion. Light has been a constant theme from the beginning of our project. Not any light, but THE LIGHT, the WORD, God from God, light from light whose birth in time we celebrate tonight.

The foundational purpose of our new building was to “let the Light shine brighter” and isn’t that our reaction when we take our Sunday recreation promenade through the new building. “It’s so bright!” “There is so much light!” As nice as it is to have a light-filled, bright building, what we hope for even more is that our monastery set on this hill, our way of belonging to the Lord, our communio, will radiate the light of Christ to all who come here, to those who drive by, and even to those who visit us virtually.

I have always been fascinated by the place of light in the feast of Christmas! The text for the Masses of Christmas are filled with this image of light! “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.”[1] “Today a light will shine upon us.”[2] This light is not like the single ray of light that pierces the darkness from the candle on Holy Saturday night as we sing “Lumen Christi” Rather, it is the brightness of the Morning Sun, the “Life that is the light of men”. The light that is not OF Christ but rather the light who IS Christ, the Word whose life itself is THE light.

Because of our ability to flip a switch for light, to traverse time zones, and have the convenience of 24/7 we do not have much sense of the significance of the birth of Jesus as a recapitulation of the First Day of Creation. “Let there be light…and God saw that the light was good; and God separated light from darkness.”[3] Yet, we have this almost innate sense that the night, that darkness is not good, that it is to be feared because perhaps, just perhaps, despite God’s insistence that the “Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”[4]— that the darkness will win out. And so, at night we pull our covers over our heads, close our eyes and the mercy of sleep protects us from our fear. But weren’t we just exhorted this past Friday: “Do not be afraid! On the fifth day our Lord will come to you!”

The experts say that this night was chosen for the feast of Christmas because it was the pagan feast of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. I don’t know, because, as they say, I wasn’t there. But because we believe that the birth of a tiny, helpless infant is the “eternal Sun who fills all created things with light”[5] and that he has given us a share in His divine life we cannot but want to celebrate. Every morning for the past 3 weeks we have proclaimed to a seemingly dark world, “Your light will come! The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty!”[6] and our own hearts have been expanded by this desire.  In defiance of the darkness we string lights on our trees, on the cappa closets, in the stairwells and in the refectory—just about anywhere we can string lights —proclaiming a greater truth: that this First Coming of our Savior is the prelude to His 2nd Coming and of the new Jerusalem where God’s glory with be the endless day of joy.

Thanks to St. Francis we put the creche in nearly every room of our monastery and the shepherds remind us that they really did find a baby lying in a manger. We stand before the scene contemplating the littleness of God and we are made silent because for the past three weeks we have been asking God to “stir up his mighty power”[7] and he answers us, beguiling our hearts with the paradox of his helplessness.

The preparation for the feast of Christmas is intensely filled with expectation, as it should be for the birth of a child. But it is something more because Christ lives in us through his gift of grace. The Divine Word has made his dwelling with us. He has sent his Spirit so that we can be a new manger, a new home for the Word, not just during the very short Christmas season but each day of our lives. So, what are we longing for?

There is a verse of a hymn we have been singing during Advent whose words will be familiar, which, for me, expresses so exquisitely this longing. I’m sure at least a few of us can even give the number in the Choirbook:

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ our king in beauty comes
And we His face shall see.[8]

Ultimately, isn’t this the deepest longing of our hearts: to see God face to face, to be filled with His infinite and radiant love. The birth of the Word made Man is the beginning of this promise and since we live in time and not yet in eternity, each year we are once again given the opportunity to receive “the first payment” of this promise more fully and to renew the longing of our hearts for “the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ…”[9]

Tonight, at I Vespers of Christmas we will sing, “He comes in splendor, the King who is our peace; the whole world longs to see him.”[10] We hold in our hearts the suffering of this longing world as we contemplate with joy our Jesus born for us taking our place besides our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. During these days of joy may we radiant Christ’s light and peace to each other and may we never stop singing, “Come Lord, and do not delay. You have vanquished the darkness of the world by your Light! In your light we see light! O Radiant Dawn, O Prince of Peace, come!”

 Merry Christmas!

 [1] Isaiah 9:1

[2] Entrance Antiphon, Christmas Mass at Dawn

[3] Genesis 1:3-4

[4] John 1:5

[5] Anselmo Lentini, +1989, Hymn for Vespers, Common of Doctors of the Church

[6] Short Responsory for Lauds during Advent

[7] Many of the Collects during Advent begin with this invocation.

[8] Summit Choirbook, page 14. John Brownlie, Hymns from the East, 1907

[9] Titus 2:13

[10] Antiphon of the first psalm of I Vespers of Christmas

Our Christmas Liturgy Schedule is as follows:

  • I Vespers of Christmas         5:30 PM

  • Matins of Christmas           11:10 PM

  • Midnight Mass                    12:00 AM

  • Lauds                                       6:40 AM

  • Mass at Dawn                        8:00 AM

  • Sext                                         12:00 PM

  • None                                          1:55 PM

  • Rosary & II Vespers               5:20 PM

Compline is not open to the public. Chapel doors close at 7:00 PM