The Benedictine life is both ordinary and human, extraordinary and divine. It is ordinary and human because St. Benedict in his Rule encourages us to get on with the business of monastic life; it is extraordinary and divine because it is a response to a call from God and it is a life lived for others. Welcome to St. Scholastica Priory, a community of sisters located in Petersham, Massachusetts.
Our good friend Cedric Liqueur, an international independent actor and playwright who has given unforgettable performances to our communities and guests, will present his latest work in mid-June at the Petersham Town Hall. He says that “‘A Window Half-Open: The Story of Blessed Maria Gabriella of Unity’ is not so much a call for unity among all Christians as a call for the ecumenical journey that begins with the divisions each of us have in our own hearts. It also celebrates the unity that now exists in our church life, other faiths, cultures and idealogies.”
Since 1997 Cedric has written and produced historical biographies as one-man solo presentations. Check back here for the date, and don’t miss it!
In 2014 St. Scholastica Priory will host two Monastic Experience Weekends for young women interesting in discerning their vocation by living with the community for a few days to see their life at close hand: from February 14-16 and from August 8-10. For information on the weekends please click here.
If you are a single Catholic woman between the age of 18-40, and would like to discuss and discern a monastic vocation, dates can be arranged outside of the Monastic Weekends.
On April 20, 2013, two public conferences for the Year of Faith were hosted by St. Mary’s Monastery and St. Scholastica Priory. To listen to them click here:
by Fr. Robert Imbelli
by Mother Mary Elizabeth Kloss, OSB
is past Monday we began to sing some of the most beautiful hymns of the liturgy. The hymns for Matins, Lauds and Vespers were written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609). Here is a link to the Vespers hymn: Vexilla regis. The readings at Mass and the Divine Office all center in more directly on the Lord’s coming passion and death.
Today we began our Palm Sunday Procession in the guest parlor of St. Scholastica Priory and then processed through the cloister walk and into the church. Last year was the first time we actually used the cloister for the procession, because of the bad weather. The experience was good for us. We were able to sing more of the ancient and beautiful chants for this one day of the year.
The Palm Sunday procession has an interesting history. This site is not visually that interesting but the history is: Palm Sunday procession. The procession is not a “re-enactment” of the day Jesus came into Jerusalem. It is how we begin this greatest of all weeks of the year. The prayer that is read at the ceremony says this: “Today we come together to begin this solemn celebration in union with the whole Church throughout the world. Christ entered in triumph into his own city, to complete his work as our Messiah: to suffer, to die, and to rise again. Let us remember with devotion this entry which began his saving work and follow him with a lively faith. United with him in his suffering on the cross, may we share his resurrection and new life.”
On Holy Thursday we begin the Triduum with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 5:00 PM. Dinner on that day is when it always is, about 1:15. This is one of the most special meals we celebrate in the community. The refectory is set with all of us at one table. The table is laid out on tablecloths with china and cloth napkins in the most solemn and beautiful arrangement. We prepare a mid-eastern meal – not a Passover meal, but one that contains some of the same foods. A load of bread is prepared (so far by me) for as many sisters as we have in the community in a kind of pull-apart loaf. When the candles are lighted and all are standing by their places the Gospel of John is read that speaks of Jesus’ loving His own until the end, asking them to love one another as He loves them and washing their feet. Then the Superior walks around the table tearing off a piece for each sister in silence. Once that is done we have “Deo Gratias” which means lots of talking and laughter until we say the final grace. From then on until as close to the Vigil on Holy Saturday night we have silence in the monastery, no common meals, and the refectory tables are bare like the altar in the church.
In the past everything stopped as people entered into this week of all weeks. In our day, except for places like monasteries, that is not really possible. But there are ceremonies in the parish churches on days in the week that will help you enter into the meaning of all that Easter blossoms into. If you can, do go. You won’t regret it!
Every blessing and grace that this most holy time of year holds for you and all you love!
Love and prayers from us all,
Mother Mary Elizabeth, OSB