Our Holy Thursday service is complete; silence now hangs in the monastery hallways like the incense and beeswax from our procession with the Blessed Sacrament. Our evening of celebration, prayer and commemoration is reinforced by our call to community.
Following monastic tradition, we held our foot washing ceremony in our Chapter Room for the sisters of the community. It is a simple service with scripture, chant, and then prioress, sub-prioress, and procurator sit or kneel between the choirs of sisters as we, one by one, come forward to have them wash our feet. It is powerful to watch as the sister we elected as leader, carefully remove the shoes and socks of each sister and then gently wash and dry her feet before returning the footwear.
"I chose my classmate [sister who entered at the same time] to wash my feet and it was very touching. In fact, it brought me to tears. Being a servant is what my life is about--bringing God's love to others." Sr. Barbara, perpetually professed many years.
"I chose to have my foot washed as a challenge to allow myself to be served rather than focusing on serving others. At times, I find it very difficult to be served. We need to remember to allow others the opportunity to serve." Sr. Barbara, perpetually professed about six months.After a closing prayer by our prioress, we processed from the Chapter Room to the refectory for a meal celebrating community and love, our love for each other and for Christ. We shared wine and fresh breads, a wonderful meal that was hard to leave in preparation for our Holy Thursday Mass and upcoming silence.
At the end of our Mass, we processed ahead of Father Monk bearing the Blessed Sacrament to the St. Joseph Chapel. We sang the Pange Lingua in our Bishop Martin Marty Chapel; then our musician sisters picked up the tune on clarinet and bass clarinet in the dim hallways as we silently followed the candle bearers. The incense swung by Sister Acolyte before Father still lingers in the hallways, drifting up the stairwell. We chanted the last verses of the Pange Lingua without accompaniment in the little Chapel as Father turned the key on the tabernacle.
Triduum silence has begun; it is palpable, heavy like the scent of incense and beeswax from the procession. A silence that will nurture our prayer and reflection that we share as community over these days of Triduum.