Greetings for a blessed Christmas during this double Jubilee! Yes, this year we celebrate Our Lord’s Birth in the midst of two other joyous celebrations. First, the Dominican Order observes its 800th Anniversary of Papal Approval from November 7, 2015 to January 21, 2017. From December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, the Church celebrates the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
In Marbury, we celebrated the opening of the 800th Jubilee on November 7, Feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order, with a long awaited gathering with the Dominican Laity from Birmingham. Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P. offered Mass for the occasion. With the addition of two Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia (Nashville Dominicans) who teach in Birmingham, all four branches of the Dominican Family were present for this joyful celebration. We pray these special times of grace will be rich in blessings for each of you who share in our life of prayer.
O Come, Divine Messiah! This Advent has a special touch, as we have a postulant experiencing this season of the Liturgical year in our monastery for the first time. The last Saturday before Advent found us gathering straws for the Crib, preparing the Advent wreath, and cleaning and preparing the altar. There is a special glow that evening as each Sister enters the choir for First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, draws an Advent card with a special spiritual practice to prepare her heart for the Infant Jesus, and readies her books for the Divine Office. “Cónditor alme síderum,” “Creator of the Stars of Night,” the chantress intones: Advent is here! Come, Lord Jesus!
We still miss our dear Sister Mary of the Rosary, who died on August 24th, just short of her 90th birthday. Her devotion to Our Lady’s Rosary was legendary. Her beads never left her hands. Even when the years had twisted those fingers so that she was unable to do many other tasks, she managed to hold onto her Rosary. We are inspired by her example not to receive the grace of God in vain, but fruitfully. Sister had truly grown old gracefully and gratefully.
A long overdue plan of refinishing some floors was finally started in October—a week-long project, according to the workmen. In order to expedite the schedule, we moved all furnishings from the choir, refectory and kitchen, before they arrived. We set up a temporary Chapel in the Chapter hall, and an emergency kitchen in the laundry. Since the major areas of the monastery were out of bounds, we enjoyed an outdoor trek around the back in order to reach the Chapel or the kitchen. Our Lord sent perfect weather all that week. Another week of de-sawdusting and returning everything to its place brought a wholly satisfactory end to the project.
As the light of Christmas dawns, we join Our Lady in her rapt contemplation of the face of God revealed in her precious Child. To gaze on the face of Love Incarnate and live perpetually in the light of His gaze—it for this we are made and it is in this that Heaven touches earth. How blessed we are that He comes to us and desires so much to be with us. Venite Adoremus! Come, let us adore Him!
Mother Mary Joseph, O.P. and Sisters