Thursday, December 30, 2010

One of our more colorful nonagenarians stopped by our front desk this week and asked the sister on duty: "What are those lights on the front lawn?"
The sister answered, "Those lights are on our peace sign."
"Peace sign?"
"Yes, P-E-A-C-E, the peace sign that's at the front entrance every Christmas?"
"Oh.......Are we still for that?"

Lots of Christmas photos here on our community's website if you haven't browsed lately.

And the new AIM USA newsletter is now online here.

Happy 2011 to all....and thanks for being a reader of "Light Through Stained-Glass Windows." Let us all pray for peace this Saturday...New Year's Day but also a World Day of Peace.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas at our house

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Emmaus Ministries, the umbrella organization of what started as simply the Emmaus Soup Kitchen, gives presents to 2,000 children every Christmas. I bought for 35 this year--four families.

The shopping is easy: online-with a generous budget-and the search for sneakers that double as snowboots, hoodies that are thick and warm, jeans and tops that can last a year of laundering, and outfits for 6 month-olds (Did you know they still sell Carter's?)

The wrapping is great fun: using all those brightly-colored character paper--heavy on the Santa Clauses and snowmen.

Yesterday came the deliveries. And there was no more fun. The worst was a second-floor apartment. I got to it by climbing bare, old wooden steps with no carpet, no treads, no anything. The room I entered was maybe 12' x 12'---maybe. It was hard to tell, for it was nearly pitch dark inside--at 3:00 pm in the afternoon. No lamps, though there might have been one light bulb, and some light did come from the TV.

All the windows were covered by sheets or blankets, hanging down their full length. Five or six little kids were on a couch or a chair or just milling around. It was claustrophobic--for me, maybe not for them.

Michelle, the mother/grandmother/aunt, gave me a big hug and a thanks as I put the large boxes down, gave our greeting and pivoted in-place going back down the bare and well-worn stairs.

Oh, I almost forget, over in the corner was a little three or four foot artificial Christmas tree, with a few lights.

Today we put up our trees:

In chapel.

In the community room.

Even outside in the inner courtyard.

So tell me, why do I keep seeing theirs?

Friday, Isaiah 52: 1-6
Saturday, Christmas, Isaiah 49: 7-9
Sunday, Holy Family, Sirach 3: 2-7, 12-14

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent's Fourth Week

Saturday afternoon I had a deer encounter that was a first for me.

In the last week or so we have been seeing deer prints in the snow right under our bedroom windows, right up by the house. While sitting in my room at about 4:30 pm I saw something moving outside. When I looked up there were two deer right underneath my window. They were slowly moving along the house--so I went out into the hall, down to the entrance way foyer where there is also a window and where the ground rises to window level.

Lo and behold, as I got there (all of 10 seconds) one of the doe reached it, too. There we were: I, five feet from the window inside, and she, five feet from the window outside. She came nearer but I, of course, didn't move. She was just beautiful and managed to stay still and stare at me for about 30 seconds. Another sister was able to join me for most of the time.

Finally she quietly turned as a smaller deer arrived and they both walked away across the yard where a third one was waiting. We returned to my room and watched all three make their way, casually and calmly, into our woods. It was just a beautiful experience.

That kind of moment is especially memorable in Advent when our senses of waiting, watching, being aware, are highly tuned. Every day we hear in our readings of the prophets' words of watching for "the days to come" for God's people.

This week, too, we are beginning full press preparation for the weekend Christmas liturgies. Practices are scheduled and last minute organization is everywhere. Trimming of the whole house will begin slowly tomorrow, I'd expect, and hit full steam on Wednesday with the formal tree trimming ritual.

A very nice touch this year is the hanging of the O Antiphon banners in the cloister walk / hallway between chapel and the dining room. Here are the first three from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The O Antiphons, sung by a small group of our sisters.

Our Sr. Anne McCarthy recently spent a week in Haiti. A registered nurse, Anne and the rest of the delegation spent some time in a clinic in Haiti. This op-ed piece by Anne appeared in our local paper Sunday. It gives a firsthand view of many of the present situations in this poorest of Western hemisphere countries.

Monday, O Key of David, Isaiah 22: 19-23
Tuesday, O Dayspring, Isaiah 60: 1-5
Wednesday, O Ruler of Nations, Isaiah 16: 1-5
Thursday, O Emmanuel, Isaiah 62: 10-12

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The O Antiphons are here-Christmas must be close

Our Sr. Stephanie Campbell passed away last weekend. Her service of memories and funeral were very, very nice. She was a unique woman in many ways, not limited to the fact that we were her third Benedictine community: she lived with her first group for 30 years, her second for 10, and with us for 29. In between was a very full and interesting life. Here are links to her obit and prayer card.

With every sister's death one of our sisters has taken on a beautiful "tradition"---forming a living memorial display using photos, memorabilia, whatever we come upon that gives a visual memory of her and her life. They are truly looked forward to now. Here are a couple views of the area in the dining room where she set up one for Sr. Stephanie.

Our community website has lots of newsy items from the last week or so. A busy time in a busy month. Click here.

Here is the link to Sr. Mary David's O Antiphons, sung by a small group of our sisters.

Thursday, Isaiah 45: 1-13
Friday, O Wisdom, Wisdom 6: 12-20
Saturday, O Adonai, Micah 5: 1-4
Sunday, O Root of Jesse, Isaiah 7: 10-14

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Lakes Life

The locally published magazine, Great Lakes Life, gave a unique and generous holiday gift to five non-profits: they offered them a page in their December issue. We were one of the five.

The editor is a lovely woman, a seeker and person of faith, trying to make it on her own in a business while raising two young sons, on her own again. If you'd like to browse on the GLL website, here it is.

Here is the page our communications director and Benetvision graphic artist developed. Click to enlarge.

Monday (Lucy) Isaiah 44: 1-8
Tuesday (John of the Cross) Isaiah 44: 9-20
Wednesday Isaiah 44: 21-28

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Weather Channel

Awhile ago I read that the top three cable TV channels are ESPN, CNN Headline News and The Weather Channel. That makes perfect sense: sports, news and weather are topics most of us have a basic interest in and some of us are fanatic followers.

This week Mike Seidel from The Weather Channel was here in Erie! The city got only a few inches, but the little towns around us got socked with lake effect snow. And everywhere there were tremendous drifts because of strong winds. Here are some of ours:

Peeking out our patio door at a 4' high drift.
It looked like something from a desert scene in National Geographic.

The east side of the patio and the end of a drift that formed and hung there from 2-3 days of strong winds.
Photos by Charlotte Ann Zalot, OSB

Thursday Isaiah 42: 1-9
Friday Isaiah 42: 10-17
Saturday Isaiah 42: 18-25
Sunday Isaiah 35: 1-6a, 10

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas MOUNT

Advent is moving along as we enter Week 2 of this favorite of all liturgical seasons. The Christmas issue of The Mount magazine was published this weekend. It is just beautiful and is online here.

Sunday afternoon we hosted the Penn State Behrend choir as one venue for their Christmas concert. It was magnificent. Whenever I visited European monasteries I always noticed pamphlets and posters announcing musical events that were held in the monastery church. I'm sure their acoustics and historical settings are the best in the area. It's just great that we can host such events, too. May there be many more!

Sorry, Californians, it's not sand...wish it was! Last flowers of summer still holding on got caught this weekend in "the white stuff."

Monday (Nicholas) Isaiah 41: 8-20
Tuesday Isaiah 41: 21-29
Wednesday (Immaculate Conception)
Gen. 3: 9-15, 20

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Doings at home and abroad

A number of our sisters are out of the country this first week of December: Sr. Joan Chittister in Mexico for the Global Peace Initiative of Women who are holding gatherings in concert with the climate control international meeting there; Sr. Anne McCarthy in Haiti with a delegation headed by Bishop Tom Gumbleton that will work among the poor along with other peace efforts: Sr. Stephanie Schmidt in Bavaria, Germany attending the AIM International Council meeting at St. Ottilien Archabbey; and Sr. Christine Vladimiroff and Sr. Mary Jane Vergotz in Polokwane, South Africa, continuing our 150th anniversary commitment to the Benedictine Sisters there.

This week our community's website has a nice photo gallery of last Saturday's chapel preparations for Advent. And here is the prioress's Advent reflection, too.

Our teaching roots are never far away, and to that end we're going to see the (first part) of the last Harry Potter movie this weekend. Read the books, seen the movies. Great fun...especially if you've ever taught teenagers!

Thursday, (North American Martyrs) Isaiah 40: 18-26
Friday, (Francis Xavier) Isaiah 40: 27-31
Saturday, Isaiah 41: 1-7
Sunday, Isaiah 11: 1-10