Today, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, is the 3rd biggest feast of the year and is the unoffical "feast day" of the Dominican Order since we are commissioned to be "Preachers of the Word" whether we are friars, nuns, sisters or laity. Happy Feast Day, to all our Dominican Brethren and Sisters!
Yesterday, we had "Solemn Chapter" to announce this great feast! Only Christmas and the Annunciation have a ceremony the previous day to prepare us for the coming feast. Before recreation we gathered in the Chapter Hall. Then Sr. Denise Marie chanted the beautiful Prologue to St. John's Gospel: In the beginning was the WORD. At the end, after we all responded with an elaborate, "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ", we dropped to the floor making the traditional venia which is a Dominican peculiarity—one makes a prostration on one's right side with the right hand "pillowing" the head and the left hand flat on the ground. Venia means "pardon" and in making the venia we are asking God's mercy and forgiveness for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
After a few moments (not too long or someone might fall asleep!) we rise, and then the Prioress or another sister delegated by her, gives the sermon. This year, Sr. Mary Martin reflected on the conferences Fr. John Corbett, OP had given us this weekend on the "Virtue of Fortitude and our Profession of the Counsels." What struck me especially from Father's conferences was this: In making religious profession, and most especially by professing Obedience, God gives us the grace to say in the most profound and radical way possible, Our Father. We enter religious life in order to learn how to say Our Father, a gift we received by our Baptism.
After the sermon, the chantresses led the community in singing the beautiful "Verbum Caro" responsory from the Dominican Office of Matins. No matter how many mistakes we make, it is a piece of exquisite power and beauty. I wish you could hear it!
Chapter is then closed with the Prayer for the feast of the Annunciation and renewed and fortified by this little celebration we then gathered for evening recreation.