Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Week

Don't miss: the red wagon, the glasses, the puppy and kitty, the blanket-cape, sneakers, etc. Click on it to make it larger--and enjoy!

One of Thomas's plates and a lovely Madonna and child--subtle and glorious--and hidden away in the gathering space alcove.

Here are a couple links for those you have the time to check them out. This one is from an article on local notable people for 2008. Our Sr. Mary Lou Kownacki is among the four highlighted.

And a little holiday week extra for readers who live in places where 3" of snow brings your town to a "screeching halt." Here's the front page article from our Erie paper on Christmas day, "Erie Leads Snowfall Derby." Geesh!

Please note: two days later, on the 27th, we set a record high of 67 degrees--and all the snow did indeed melt away!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

The poinsettias before arrangement and our primary nativity scene in the Gathering Space. Those are luminaria in the gold bags--they encircle the entire scene. The white background cloth hangs from the ceiling to make a natural background.

Here are two of many diverse nativity sets around the Mount and at ministry sites. These are African and Asian.

And, after a one-year hiatus, the large chapel Christmas tree is back. Stunning--in shape, size and beauty!

Christmastide Morning-Evening Prayer-side bar

Monday, December 22, 2008

And Christmas Week Begins

The "O Antiphons" come to an end Monday and Tuesday. They are sung online here.

Dec. 22
O Ruler of Nations, cornerstone of the people, desire of all; from the clay of the earth, by your own hand you have formed us and fashioned us. Come and open our hearts to one another.

Dec. 23
O Emmanuel, leader and desire of all the nations, you set captives free, comfort the lonely; you feed the poor and the hungry. Come be born in us, God of Life.

Our "O Antiphon" panels: the artist is one of our oblates, Lanora Queckborner, caligrapher: Charlotte Anne Zalot, OSB.

Sunday night we held our "official" beginning of Christmas with the Mount's tree trimming party. In truth, a lot more than the large Christmas tree gets trimmed, as nativity sets begin to appear everywhere, residence halls and smaller rooms get decorated, the Dickens Village goes up, and the electric train begins its round and round trip under one of the dining room trees.

Here are some of the day's events in pictures:
1) The four candle bearers for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
2) Former prioress Sr. Mary Margaret Kraus lights the large Christmas tree. It was her first year for the honor, which is reserved for the most senior member of the community.
3) Part of the Dicken's village.
4) The community room's beautiful tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Antiphons and a Berry Bush

One of our sisters is a quilter. Here are four quilted hangings that she made for Advent. We are in the third week, thus the pink, for Gaudete, in the third one.

Inner-city Erie has a bit of a challenge creating beautiful natural environments, but here's a red-berried bush after a snowstorm last week--right outside 345 East 9th--our original motherhouse site. There are a number of these berry-ladened bushes around--they truly rise to their most beautiful with the snow.

The "O Antiphons" continue. They appear at Vespers in the Liturgy of the Hours December 17-23 and are sung online here.

Thursday, December 18
O Adonai, leader of the ancient Israel, giving Moses, while in the burning bush, the law on Sinai. Come with outstretched arms and teach us.

Friday, December 19
O Root of Jesse, standing as protector of the people; silencing rulers, inspiring the people to make supplication. Come do not delay, deliver us.

Saturday, December 20
O Key of David, rod and staff of the house of Israel, one who opens and no one closes, the one who closes and no one opens. Come lead prisoners caught in darkness.

Sunday, December 21
O Dayspring, Sun of Justice, bright eternal light, one who shows the way, the one who sets us free even in darkness and death. Come disperse the gloomy clouds of night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent Week 3

Saturday was the Feast of St. Lucy, an early church martyr. During the Middle Ages people suffering from eye trouble began praying to Lucy because her name is derived from lux (light). Festivals of light that include a girl with a crown of candles and a young man representing Star Boy are still held in Scandinavian countries today.

Somewhat miraculously, here in Erie, our normal winter grey cloud cover lifted on Saturday and we had hours of bright, bright sunlight. I happened by chapel around 10:30 am and got this unusual photo of all eight south wall windows reflected on the ceramic walls and the floor. Thank you, Lucy!

The "O Antiphons" begin this week. They appear at Vespers in the Liturgy of the Hours December 17-23 and are online here. They are sung by our sisters to words and music by our Sr. Mary David Callahan. Sister Mary David was a composer/musician who wrote all the accompaniments for the music that came out of Weston Priory in the 70s and 80s--along with much of the music we sing today.

Dec. 17
O Wisdom, flowing from the mouth of the Most High; reaching far and wide, disposing of all things sweetly and mightily. Come teach us the way of prudence.

I'm sure we all have our favorite stained glass window of the 20 or so throughout the Mount: mine's this one--the smallest one on chapel's south side.

(Morning-Evening Prayer-see sidebar)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December scenes

We haven't decorated inside the house yet, but this tree in the inner-courtyard is aglow every night. I've tried at daylight, in pitch dark, and at nightfall--to capture a good photo of it, but this one (at 5:00 pm) still isn't very realistic---in real life it looks beautiful.

Here's a nice Christmas poem I came upon (oops--an unintended pun):

"Christmas Eve, Almost Midnight"
David Denny

Driving through the mist after delivering
packages, I come upon a family of deer
walking down the middle of the street.
I cut my lights and engine and coast
behind them awhile. They are cruising
the neighborhood, nibbling the frosty lawns,
looking for nasturtiums. I glide behind them
around a corner and down another street,
the only sound the crunching of newly formed ice
beneath my tires, until they disappear onto the dark,
soggy soccer fields of the middle school.
I tell you I can count on one hand
the number of times I've been happier.

Here's one of our window bird feeders after some overnight snow last Sunday.

Photo by Charlotte Anne Zalot, OSB

(Morning-Evening Prayer-see sidebar)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Week 2

For your Advent "reflections"--in a contemporary, but very fine way--watch this You Tube video. It's very clever and yet challenging. The title is: "Advent Conspiracy."

Here is the south chapel alcove in its Advent environment. If you click on the photo you'll be able to see a close up of the evergreens in the large vase in front.

Right as you enter chapel you'll find this huge piece hanging from the upper gallery all the way down to the floor. This central back area contains the chapel's water symbol, has doors that open to the front foyer, the cloister walk down to the dining room, and into the adoration chapel. You can see a glimpse of the gathering space right behind the hanging, too. It's a rather large, empty area most of the time, so this part of the Advent environment really stands out and is a lovely addition to the space.

Finally, if you'd like some special prayer for the season, click on a new link just added to the sidebar, "Morning-Evening Prayer" and you'll find some from our own daily praise.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December beauty

In 1988 the community's Saint Benedict's Academy, a 119-year-old high school for girls, closed. Today, 20 years later, the SBA alumnae organization is going strong. The group sponsors numerous annual events and draws great participation from its 4,000+ proud members. This week they held their annual Christmas dinner. They had to move it to a downtown hotel ballroom a couple years ago, and this year the attendance set a record: 445 strong!

Here's a photo of the crowd listening to an 85-member alum choral group reprising five of the songs that they sang for a large and successful fundraising event two years ago.

Go Lassies!

Yesterday morning when many of us were headed out at 7:30 a.m., this is what we found. So I, and many others, grabbed their cameras and VOILA--a winter sunrise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Advent

Placed right in between Black Friday--the traditional day when businesses hope to enter into the "black" of their financial year, and Cyber Monday--the biggest day for online shopping as people return to work and use those faster computers to place their holiday web orders, was the quiet beginning of the church's Advent season this weekend.

Saturday night we entered into this year's Advent season with two new sung mantras by a small choir, a lovely reflection (by two of our oblates) on the setting of "darkness" in so many of the scripture events, and the transformation of the chapel into Advent time.

For the next 25 days we will hear the haunting words and canticles of Isaiah and the other prophets foretelling the coming of the Messiah--God with us.

Sister Katherine lights the candle for the first week of Advent.

From the beautiful Isaiah reading of the First Week of Advent: Isaiah 11: 1-10

"A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of God shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of God.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious."