Friday, December 31, 2010

A Christmas Poem

We were sent the following poem, and thought it was something to share with all of you...

If you look for Me at Christmas
you won't need a special star --
I'm no longer just in Bethlehem,
I'm right there where you are.
You may not be aware of Me
amid the celebrations --
You'll have to look beyond the stores
and all the decorations.
But if you take a moment
from your list of things to do
And listen to your heart, you'll find
I'm waiting there for you.
You're the one I want o be with,
you're the reason that I came,
And you'll find Me in the stillness
as I'm whispering your name.


Igou Family String Ensemble

On January 30th, the Igou Family String Ensemble performed an outstanding concert of sacred and classic Christmas music.  The program was appropriated entitled "Gloria in Excelsis Deo!"  They certainly gave glory to God with their playing and we gave glory to Him as well with our rapt attention and great appreciation for their gifts.

These talented ten young people are the children of Jeffrey and Barbara Igou of Friedens, PA.  An older brother and sister join them as their schedules allow.

Our thanks to them for a wonderful evening of glorifying God! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Day at the Monastery

On Christmas morning we sang Lauds and Terce:  these antiphons  (as well as the antiphons at Sext and None at noon) tell us of Mary and the shepherds.  Mass followed at 8:00 a.m. 

At 5:00 p.m. we sang Vespers with the antiphons highlighting the divinity of Jesus “who was begotten before the daystar and before all ages.” 

That evening at 7:30 p.m. we sang Vigils of the Feast of the Holy Family and concluded with Compline.  What a beautiful way to celebrate The Liturgy of the Hours and have it form our Christmas Day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

We Wish You a Blessed Christmas!

Our Cor Jesu Monastic Chapel is always a wonderful place of prayer.  We thought you would like to see it decorated for Christmas.  The "baby in the manger" is a nearly life-size wax infant from Germany.

Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Joyfilled New Year to All of You!

Mother Mary Anne, OSB
and Benedictine Nuns

Sunday, December 26, 2010

O Come Let Us Adore Him

I want you to share in our beautiful monastic customs celebrating Christmas here in St. Emma Monastery.  After Lauds on December 24, The Proclamation of the Birth of Jesus is sung, situating the birth in history according to the ancient way of describing time.
On Christmas Eve at 11:15 p.m., we solemnly processed into the Chapel and I, the Prioress, carried the Infant (made of wax) from Germany.  The netting covering the Infant was embroidered by the Zulu people in South Africa.  A guest Sister from Uganda who studies in Ohio was visiting us over her Christmas break.  

This was part of our experienced that Jesus indeed came for all peoples! Our chaplain, Father Chad OSB wearing the Mass vestments, followed the nuns. 
According to monastic tradition, we sang the first two  of Vigils (psalms) with readings before Midnight Mass and then began the Mass with the Gloria.  After Communion, we sang the third nocturn (canticles) and then the Mass concluded as usual.

Christmas blessings,

Mother Mary Anne, OSB

One of our Christmas Traditions

This tradition that harkens back to the days when our Sisters had charge of the kitchen and dining rooms at St. Vincent Archabbey (1931-1987).  Some of the monks would awaken the Sisters for Midnight Mass by singing Christmas carols to them. 

Today, the tradition although different, is enjoyed by both our communities.  The monks drive over to St. Emma's on the afternoon of December 23 and we spend time singing Christmas carols together and then enjoy sampling a few cookies afterwards. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel,
our King and Lawgiver,
the Desire of all nations
and their Savior:
come and save us,
O Lord our God.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O King of Nations

O King of Nations,
and their Desired, the Cornerstone
Who dost make both one:
come and save mankind
whom Thou didst form out of clay.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Dayspring

O Dayspring,
brightness of eternal Light
and Sun of Justice:
come and enlighten them
that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Key of David

O Key of David,
and Sceptre of the house of Israel,
Who dost open and no man shutteth,
Who dost shut and no man openeth;
come and lead forth from his prison
the captive sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse,
Who dost stand for an enseign of the people,
before Whom kings shall remain silent,
and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make supplication:
come to deliver us and delay not.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Adonai

O Adonai,
and Leader of the house of Israel,
Who didst appear to Moses
in the flame of the burning bush
and didst give him the law in Sinai:
come, and with an outstretched arm,
redeem us.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The "O Antiphons" - O Wisdom

Beginning December 17, the we follow the old monastic custom of solemnly intoning the O Antiphons at Vespers.  The O Antiphons are used for the Magnificat antiphon and address Christ by the various titles given to Him in the Old Testament. 

Join us in reflecting on these, as a special way to prepare for the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord.

O Wisdom,
Who didst come from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from end to end
and disposing all things sweetly and mightily:
come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life of St. Benedict, Part II

            On his way to Subiaco, Benedict encountered the monk Romanus who gave him the monastic habit.  On certain days, Romanus provided him with food that he lowered to Benedict’s cave with a long rope with a small bell attached to it.  Of this St. Gregory writes:  “The ancient enemy of mankind grew envious of the kindness shown by the older monk in supplying Benedict with food, and one day, as the bread was being lowered, he threw a stone at the bell and broke it.  Yet in spite of this, Romanus kept on with his faithful service.”  (Life and Miracles of St. Benedict (Book Two of the Dialogues) by Pope St. Gregory the Great, translated by Odo J. Zimmermann, OSB and Benedict R. Avery OSB, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, Pg. 5.)

The abbot died at a monastery in the locality and the monks turned to Benedict asking him to be their abbot.  Benedict, realizing that his way of life would not match theirs, tried to discourage them in their request.  They were persistent and so he acquiesced.  What Benedict realized from the outset eventually became apparent with the monks trying to poison him.  As St. Gregory shares, “As he made the sign of the Cross over it with his hand, the pitcher was shattered even though it was well beyond his reach at the time.  It broke at his blessing as if he had struck it with a stone.  Then he realized it had contained a deadly drink which could not bear the sign of life.  Still calm and undisturbed, he rose at once and after gathering the community together addressed them.  ‘May almighty God have mercy on you,’ he said.  ‘Why did you conspire to do this?  Did I not tell you at the outset that my way of life would never harmonize with yours?  Go and find yourselves an abbot to your liking.  It is impossible for me to stay here any longer.’  Then he went back to the wildness he loved."  (Life and Miracles of St. Benedict, pages 10-11.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Life of St. Benedict

In our Fatima Chapel (used by our retreatants), there is a series of stained glass windows that depict the Life of St. Benedict.  One good way to begin our posts is to share something about his life using these windows and relying on Book II of the Dialogs of St. Gregory. 

We hope you enjoy this first installment!

The founder of western monasticism, St. Benedict, was born in 480 at Nursia, Italy.  It is not clear if his family was of nobility, but they had the means to send him to Rome for classical studies.

About age 20 and distraught over the behavior of some of his classmates, Benedict left Rome in the company of his housekeeper abandoning family, home and inheritance.  The two settled in a town of Enfide about 40 miles from Rome and two miles from Subiaco. 

It was at Enfide that Benedict worked his first miracle.  It seems that his housekeeper borrowed a sieve (or wheat-sifter) and that fell and broke in two pieces.  The housekeeper was deeply upset because the borrowed implement was now broken.  Benedict quietly took the two pieces and gave himself over to prayer.  At the end of his prayer the sieve was whole without indication where the break had been.  When news of the miracle spread, Benedict quietly slipped away from his housekeeper and sought a place of solitude.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

O Alma...

Each evening at the conclusion of Compline, we process to the Marian niche in our chapel and sing the traditional hymn to Mary proper to the season. 

During the Advent season through February 2, the feast of the Presentation of our Lord, we sing the Alma Redemptoris Mater

We thought you might enjoy sharing this hymn with us:

O loving Mother of the Savior,
ever the open gate into heaven,
and star of the sea,
come help our fallen race,
struggling as we are to rise again. 
You who were the Mother,
to all nature’s wonder,
of  the very Lord who gave you life.
Ever Virgin, after as before
hearing Gabriel’s message,
bringing us salvation,
O take pity on us sinners.