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



They should not be sitting on their rocks – Hey, it is December, you guys!  They are deceived.  It’s the warm weather.  It must be 70 degrees F out there.  We too are sometimes deceived but Advent is about getting it right, or learning to do so.  One of our ancient antiphons reads, “Lo in the time appointed, the Lord will come and will not lie: though he tarry, wait for him: for he will surely come, he will not tarry, alleluia.

Today the old Testament reading was from Numbers 24, part of the prophecy of Balaam.  This man is hired to curse the people of Israel from the hills overlooking their vast encampment.  (That’s the story with the talking donkey!)  When he gets a good look at the scene, he is moved (he is a prophet!) and speak a blessing instead.  In today’s reading he says: “I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall arise out of Jacob and a scepter from Israel.”  The ancient Christian Church recognized this as a word about the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Balaam was not deceived even if at first only his donkey saw the angel of the Lord with a blazing sword standing in his path (see chapter 22).  Let us not be fooled either.  It’s not about the number of shopping days….”Let us live righteously and godly, looking for that blessed hope, and the coming of the Lord.”

Blessed ADVENT!




That is what Advent is about.  Or at least in part.  It is a bit like coming to our old home on thus and such a street with an “Ah yes, this is the place” sort of feeling.  Every year Advent is much the same yet it is never the same.  Neither are we.  The LORD never changes, but the street He lives on does change even from year to year.  That is to say, we change!  The LORD wants us to find our old home and inspires us to search for it – in HOPE and EXPECTATION.


Each year we on the Hilltop sing some of the same monastic antiphons – to remind ourselves of deep truths than never change:

“Behold the Lord cometh, and all his Saints with him: and there shall be in that day a great light, alleluia.”

In a season and an age of increasing darkness, “a great light” – a Light from Light so great we can only say, “Alleluia!”  Not fantasy, but real HOPE!

“Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness.  Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation!”