Lent in our Passionist Monastery
A few days ago we had our Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord procession in which we anticipated the victory of Jesus on the cross and in his glorious resurrection from the dead. Triumphing over Satan! Here in the monastery we are so blessed to have an environment in which to re-live profoundly this mystery of our salvation. Below is a summary of what our days are like this week here in the monastery.
Lent in the monastery is a very precious time of the year. We do have some additional forms of penance. Some of which are: we don’t eat meat throughout Lent and we fast daily except on Sundays and Solemnities. Our fasting is not a rigorous form but in moderation with no snacks in-between meals (unless one has a medical reason for it or is over the age-limit for fasting). We don’t watch recreational types of videos. Also we pray the Offerings of the Precious Blood (praying a prayer with arms outstretched for 4 minutes) one extra day per week.
We are also encouraged to use less time reading news or light reading and spending more time in Scripture, spiritual reading and solitude – being with the Beloved. For a new member, the novice directress always gives guidance as to how to use this time in a beneficial manner, not going to excesses nor letting the precious days slip away without time well-spent. We truly look on these days as 40 day retreat with the entire Church.
Passion Sunday evening we experienced our annual custom of being “Bethany” for Jesus. We bring in the small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and place it at the head of the table in our refectory. We fix a place setting for him with candles and flowers and also have a platter of goodies nearby as if it is our Lord offering them to us. It is a reminder that we as Passionists desire to be a Bethany for Jesus during this week - a place where he can find refreshment and consolation.
This photo was taken last year hence Elizabeth and Nora are not pictured.
We try to enter into the mind and heart of Jesus and Mary during those days, walking with him in his journey from death to LIFE! On Holy Thursday our community holds to the monastic tradition of the Mandatum – a sacred foot washing ceremony led by the Superior – during which she gives a ferverino to help us enter deeply into the Sacred Triduum – the time of being with Jesus, our Divine Bridegroom, in a special way.
We have the Holy Thursday Mass in the evening and then keep watch with Jesus taking turns staying with him before the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night until our 3 p.m. Good Friday service.
One of the hymns we sing a capella after receiving Holy Communion on Good Friday is Popule Meus out of our St. Gregory Hymnal. It is written in Latin and Greek. It is quite haunting as it depicts our Lord crying out to his people from the cross. This is the English translation and a shortened version.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, but you led your Saviour to the cross.
Holy is God!
Holy is God!
Holy and strong!
Holy and strong!
Holy immortal One, have mercy on us.
Holy immortal One, have mercy on us
These hours are very sacred and a time of truly comforting him in his Sacred Passion, Agony and Death. After this service we are free for a couple of hours to get outside, do some work outdoors, etc. Then we have a special time of prayer with our Lady of Sorrows on Friday evening.
Saturday is a day of quiet anticipation as we prepare for the glorious Easter Vigil and the Resurrection of our Savior! We have the Holy Vigil Mass around 8 p.m. and it lasts about 2 or more hours. After that Mass we have a treat of meats, sweets, wines as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. We also have Mass on Easter Sunday morning and time of community recreation in the afternoon – along with some free time to take a nap – which one really needs by then! Then we have the Easter Octave – 8 days of rejoicing with the Church and then the entire Easter Season is a grand liturgical celebration of joy closing with an 8 day novena leading up to Pentecost!