Snow, Snow and More Snow

How do you spend a snow day?  When I was a child I longed for snow days.  No school, sleep in late, watch cartoons, read and bundle up for sledding and building snowmen and having snowball fights with the other kids in the neighborhood.  Snow days meant a day off from the regular routine and as a child I relished them, just like most every child, I suppose.

Now even though Sisters are all grown up, we still love snow days.  While our daily schedule does not change, where the Divine Office is concerned, the rest of the day is up for grabs.  With the exception of the kitchen, most work areas are slow and Sisters give themselves some time to enjoy the falling snow and by watching the birds who come to feed.  Other Sisters choose to spend some time working on a personal project, others read, and still others pretend to work but not much is seen for the effort!

But who can just stay inside and watch the snow fall?  Not me and not some of the other Sisters either.  So after dinner a group of us went outside to play.

It took us a few minutes to gather together as we maneuvered through the deep snow. Some of us did not come out fully prepared:  one had no coat on, one no boots or suitable shoes, and one no gloves.  The coat-less one lasted only a few moments, which did not surprise the rest of us.

But we finally gathered and it was glorious.  The wind was blowing, the snow was swirling all around us and we just stood there.

IMG_0970  sisters with caption

It didn’t take long for us to get moving because moving was better than standing.

IMG_0971  sisters having fun



And then Sr. Hannah picked it up.  A big ball of snow.  And do you know what she did?

IMG_0974 +MG snowball fight





She lobbed it at Sr. Margaret and that was the beginning of little snowball fight.






Sr. Christina tried to make a snowball but wasn’t doing a real good job at it so you can imagine what happened.

IMG_0975 +X tring to make a snowball












In the end, we had a great time just being outdoors and being together having some fun!

I mean, what’s a snow day for if you can’t have some fun?

Sound of Silence

No, not the song, though you may remember it:
“The Sound Of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.” …and so forth….

This silence I speak of is before a big storm. Even if we did not have internet or TV it would be hard to mistake this storm stillness – in the natural setting of the Hilltop, at least. Not a pine needle is moving. Sisters have been scurrying around out side tucking away smallish loose items which might get blown to kingdom come…..the birds are busy in an intent sort of way. No squirrels in sight; they must be ready.

This will almost be a St. Agnes snow fall and we Sisters can look out on our roof tonight and say with Tennyson’s somewhat melancholy poem:

Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapour goes;
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.

[from “St Agnes’ Eve” by Alfred Lord Tennyson]


Nothing yet!


As you can see!



“God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty.  Exactly the same sign has been given to us….God’s sign is simplicity….God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us.  This is how he reigns.  He does not come with power and outward splendor.  He comes as a baby – defenseless and in need of our help.  He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength.  He takes away our fears of his greatness.  He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child.  He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts, and his will – we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love.  God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him….Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us.  Let us allow our hearts, our souls, and our mind to be touched by this fact!”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


Are you ready for Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Lots of people ask us this question and I bet you have been asked it as well.  I suppose how the question is answered depends on what is actually being asked.  If you want to know if we have purchased our presents, if the Convent is spic and span, have goodies been prepared in advance, is the tree up and decorated, is the Chapel creche prepared, and so forth; our answer would have to be, we’re getting there.

But if you want to know if our hearts are ready to receive the Child, then our answer would be YES.   Advent is the season of preparation and so we make the effort to prepare our hearts and our minds.  Yes, we are busy with the externals, but it is the interior on which we truly focus.

From participating in daily Mass, to a week of retreat, to viewing the movie Mary of Nazareth, to submerging ourselves in special Advent prayers and meditations, to the partaking of the sacrament of confession; we have tried to prepare our hearts for the Coming of the Child.

Are you ready for Christmas?

A Note:

Preparations for Christmas can include a variety of activities.

IMG_0785 choir +MG +HN

Choir Practice.

                                      IMG_0790 +MJ +MG votive lights

Checking the supply of candles.

IMG_0873 closeup of angel +Hn

Creating angels to sell in our Card Shop.

IMG_0871 +Hn's angels card shop

Working together to decorate the Christmas tree.

IMG_0862 A Trimming Xmas Tree


Providing lots of greens for decorating purposes and for a place for Nicky to explore

                                            IMG_0877 A Nicky Looking down at greens

and for Bennie to wonder just what is going on!

IMG_0879 Bennie looking out under habit



That’s nothing to do with your age or mine…..although when we reach 70 or 80 years we all could claim we’d achieved a “great O”!

In the last seven days of Advent we encounter what are called “The Great Os” which begin with O Sapientia (O Wisdom) and next day goes on from there: O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) – and today is O Clavis David (O Key of David) and so forth.  Hauntingly longing medieval melodies go with these antiphons which are usually sung before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer.  They are like seven days of seven keys that open the mystery and glory of our Lord’s coming – both then and now.  A better sort of count-down, don’t you think?

(From a sermon by St Aelred of Rievaulx) “My brothers and sisters: how beautifully in this season the Church provides that we should recite the words and recall the longing of those who lived before our Lord’s first coming.  May we learn through their example to have a great longing for the day when he will come again.  We do well to consider how much good our Lord did by his first coming, and how much more he will do for us by his second.This thought will help us to have a great love for that first coming of his and a great longing for his return. ….”


The Theotokos

Tell Everyone: The Child is Coming

Sr. Mary Charles is currently being cared for by the Little Sisters of the Poor over at St. Martin’s Home here in Catonsville.  We are hopeful that over time Sister will be able to regain enough mobility to enable her to return home to us.  In the meantime, she is not sitting around twiddling her thumbs and even participated in our General Chapter through Google Chat.  Here is her latest blog entry.  I think you will enjoy it.


At St. Martin’s Home, we have had three days of Advent Retreat.  On the first day, Abbott Joseph Lee from Washington DC was our Celebrant and speaker.  His theme was, The Child is Coming.  He talked about the importance of sharing that message with everyone.  He told several stories which illustrated how easy it is to hide the Child in the junkiness of our Christmas decorations and preparations and the need to dejunkify our lives to see and show forth the Child.

This really caught me and I decided to share it with everyone I can.  So I am asking you to share it as well:  THE CHILD IS COMING!

IMG_0855 christmas 4