What is Advent like in the Monastery? In this four part series we'll share with you a little of how we observe Advent.
This season of watching and waiting is especially meaningful to us as contemplatives whose whole lives are structured to foster an atmosphere of prayerful waiting on the Lord. We prepare our hearts for Our Lord's visitation, remaining alert and watchful (just like today's readings remind us to be!) so that He does not find us asleep when He comes. We foster this practice of alertness physically by rising early for prayer, and keeping watch praying the rosary in rotation throughout the night twice a week. Spiritually our hearts can become drowsy by the long wait, we can let our alertness slip sometimes without realizing it. The season of Advent is a time to take stock and more fervently prepare our hearts for the coming of Our Lord.
Advent begins at First Vespers Saturday night when our prioress blesses our Advent wreath and candles with holy water. If you visit our chapel during Advent you might wonder why we don't have an Advent wreath in the sanctuary. We have it in our choir so that we have access to it! Twice a day, at the Magnificat of Our Lady during Vespers and at the Alleluia during Mass, we take turns lighting the candles. As is the custom with many things in religious life, we do this in order of profession starting with Sr. Mary Martin our prioress. One exciting part of lighting the Advent candles is that postulants also get a turn! When a young woman enters the monastery she is slowly acclimated to our way of life. As she progresses in formation she is given more responsibility. Postulants do not read at Mass or in the refectory, but they do get their turn lighting the Advent candles!
More than one sister will count the days to discover which candles she gets to light. Unsurprisingly, it is always a special treat to be the sister who lights the rose colored candle for the first time! Who will it be this year?