After our Christmas brunch, the monastery seemed strangely quiet in the afternoon. A number of the sisters changed into their 'festive' Christmas best, located 'official' identification, bundled up, and carpooled caravan style down to the Federal Prison on the other side of town. The sisters have celebrated a Christmas Mass with the men of the Federal Prison for many years. Sister Musician-Liturgist sometimes plays at their regular Masses and coordinated a group of the residents to play the bells for the Mass with the Sisters. Every year the little chapel space is packed for the Mass; it is a sacred time to share our welcoming the Lord into our lives and reminding them of our prayerful support of their conversion. The hope we seek to share with the residents echos Pope Benedict the XVI's Christmas Message:
"If we believe". Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family...Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.
The afternoon was also time for our family Christmas party! All the sisters gathered in the Chapter room for treats, music, and laughter. The party began with treats and a mix of Christmas Carols and songs. The music ended with a rousing rendition of the "12 Days of Christmas"; except this year, we also had different signs for each table to wave during our part of the '12'. Next the prioress shared the community gift, a book by the Abbot Primate (head Benedictine monk). Finally, Sister Elves delivered the sisters' gifts from the generous members of St. Mary Church...the room filled with exclamations of joy and laughter. Sisters continued comparing the family photos and cards that were included with many of the gifts and began to compose their 'thank yous' and 'promises of prayer' as we picked up the Chapter Room and prepared for evening Vespers.
We will continue to keep you in prayer throughout this Christmas Season!