It’s important to keep this holy season and preparation and silent waiting unscathed as much as possible by too early secular incursions of the ‘Happy Holidays’ spirit. Part of this is treasuring Advent specific traditions that are simple but profound. We have the Advent Wreath in the refectory as the Chapel sanctuary area is too small for another source of flame. While we prepare to decorate later in the season, closer to Christmas, we don’t decorate until close to the end of Advent. That is no small feat! But the reward is a refreshing start to Christmas at Midnight Mass.
There is an old entry in the log from the early days in the Canyon in New Mexico, when the Handmaids were handling an enormous amount of laundry and sacristy duties for the many altars in all the chapels. After working very hard to see the Mass altars everywhere were equipped with everything needed for Christmas, not to mention all the last minute decorations at our own Motherhouse, the Mother ordered the Sisters to bed early and shut off the lights…including the Christmas lights. Father Gerald came down the Canyon and saw his daughters’ convent in the dark and intervened to spread some extra joy and light on the eve of Christmas! He loved Christmas lights!
Adoration would be held in the oratories while the main Chapel was kept ‘off limits’ except to the key decorating Sisters so everyone else would be surprised and delighted by the trees, lights, poinsettias, and Nativity figurines when they entered later singing, “Silent Night” a cappella.
Meanwhile, enjoy the quiet waiting!