The past two days have been so full of celebration that we have nearly stumbled all over ourselves trying to get them all in. On Sunday, we observed the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, then segued into the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Monday. The Visitation is the feast day of three of our Sisters, so special dining room place settings featuring Marian blue were prepared for the celebrants. As is our tradition, cards, well-wishes, special prayer remembrances, and a harmonic rendition of “Happy Feast Day to you…” greeted those celebrating their feast day.
Monday also happened to be a national holiday, so an All-American spread of fried chicken and corn-on-the-cob was on tap for lunch, complete with patriotic table decorations. By mid-afternoon, many of us were dressed up and climbing into cars for a trip down the road to attend the Diaconate ordination of a monk of St. Bernard Abbey. A festive meal followed during which we celebrated and visited with our brother monks, other religious, and friends from around Cullman.
Every monastic community has their own traditions for marking special days. Liturgically, we join with the entire Church in observing the seasons and cycles of the liturgical year. Certain feasts unique to Benedictine houses also fill our calendar and our hearts as we honor with joy and reverence our wonderful Benedictine heritage. We also celebrate liturgically the important milestones in our lives such as religious professions, jubilees, and of course, the deaths of our Sisters who go before us to God.
Major celebrations invariably flow beyond the chapel, and it is here that the unique traditions of a monastic community unfold – whether through community customs of greeting and receiving, special decorations in the dining room, traditional foods for particular occasions, and any number of varied and unique ways of honoring God, celebrating our unity as a monastic community, and rejoicing in the unique heritage passed on to us by our monastic elders.
The liturgy unites us with all the People of God. Our Benedictine Rule and heritage bind us to Benedictines of every time and place. In like fashion, our particular community customs and traditions – both joyful and solemn, formal and informal – help unite us as a community and bind us as one in Christ, in the spirit of St. Benedict, and into this wonderful community.