Right now everything seems to revolve somehow around Advent. The weekends, for instance, are liturgical "festivals." Every Saturday night we have a candle-lit vigil at 7:00 pm. A small group leads the singing and a member of the community gives a short reflection. The people from around Erie who attended this week included a group of young adults who had spent an Advent reflection afternoon here at the Mount on Saturday.
Sunday liturgies are rich and creative. Yesterday's included: the addition of this year's Advent wreath, four large candles each sitting in a bed of evergreens and poised on four graduated stands in the very middle of chapel, a gift time piece by the community schola, "Long Is Our Winter," and a modern chanting of the Second Reading of the day by four cantors.
Even weekdays are a little different, as we use a special hymn booklet of Advent songs that we seldom hear the rest of the year.
Tonight we have a special Evening Praise, using an AIM USA prayer service to commemorate World AIDS Day. A number of our Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries, particularly those in Africa, are ministering to children, adults and families that are suffering the multiple effects of HIV/AIDS. AIM USA is assisting them in a special way this year by collecting donations for communities running orphanages, food programs, home visitations, and local clinics. AIM USA developed and distributed this prayer service to increase awareness in the broader monastic world of this still very real pandemic. It is available online at the AIM USA website.
Photo by Susan Freitag, OSB