The bench outside the entrance is the place of quiet expectation - either as one makes an entrance or one is returning back into the world.
This was also the site of the Annual July 4th Celebration - Sr. June Thomas on grill, Sr. Ann Prentice on desserts (except for Sr. ES who makes a mean pecan pie), and yours truly on the Bombay Sapphire Gin and Schwepps Tonic - with fresh slices of lime.
by pulling the rope which will ring the bell.
preside at the principal celebration of the Eucharist.
My favorite memory of this altar is the first time Sr. Ellen presided at Eucharist. It was Easter Day. She was so serious, it almost broke your heart. Ms. Conroy would have nothing to do with that. She hid an Easter Egg in the chalice.
I can still see the look on Sr. Ellen's face when she found it. As Ms. Conroy said to her, "If Jesus can trick the Devil out of death, we can trick you into joy!"
One sister said to me about her new home in Augusta, GA,
"I just can't imagine it! Twenty-three sisters in the same Monastic Enclosure!"
She rolled her eyes and added, "Quiet is one thing. Solitude is quite another."
The Great Vigil of Easter began well before sunrise and in the Refectory. I will never forget the Easter morning shortly after Sr. Ruth had gotten her hearing aids. In the midst of the last of the readings, Ruth gasped out loud, "I can hear the birds singing!" And, so they were. It was evidence enough that Christ had risen. He had risen, indeed!
The result was a the Saint Helena's Psalter, published by Church Publishing in 20004. By Eastertide, 2006, they published the first inclusive/expansive Monastic Breviary which is one of my very favorite ways to pray the Divine Office. Not only have they kept the integrity of the architecture of monastic prayer, they have also expanded images of God.
As Sr. Pemberton writes, "seeing God as a mother was not a new idea; from Augustine of Hippo, through Sts. Bernard and Anselm, the maternal side of both the first and second persons of the Trinity has been invoked."
What was specifically new to the Sisters, however, was using the material from Dame Julian's writing in the form of canticles which they assigned to the season of Advent - a celebration of motherhood as we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
You can order your own St. Helena's Breviary or Psalter here.
I will close this tribute to them in grateful thanksgiving for all they have contributed to my priestly formation with their trinitarian antiphon:
Source of all being,
Incarnate Word and
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever.