Now we are into Advent Christmas is approaching fast, the days are getting busier as our preparations increase with our sense of expectation. Soon the babe will be born, soon once again we will celebrate the joy of new birth but first we have the days to prepare ourselves well, to be open and welcoming and let our joy build.

In the last week of our liturgical year Sr Theresa – Mary was busy once again in the kitchen. This time she made delicious ginger biscuits which were eaten at Saturday supper to mark the beginning of Advent. Sr Benedict thinks the tradition started because from Advent until Christmas our sisters would eat sparingly with nothing but the very basics until Christmas – they did keep it as a penitential time so this was the last treat to sort of give them a boost and mark the fasting and abstinence. Sister Theresa-Mary says she has to beat the mixture for an hour or else the biscuits don’t turn out right – they did! She also made the Christmas cakes so all week we had delicious, mouthwatering smells around.Personally i am thankful that it was last week not this as in Advent we keep a simple fast on Wednesdays and Fridays – we eat very simple meals -boiled egg or jacket potato without trimmings in the evening with no desert.

 In the past the tradition in the English Benedictine Congregation ( which we belong to ) was to eat fish instead of meat on Christmas day as a real sacrifice for the conversion of England. Like most communities formed during penal times the conversion of England was something they prayed for daily and was one of the reasons they even came into existence. Now we do have a meat on Christmas day once again.

During the week the Advent wreaths were made for Chapel and the noviceship and they are lit during Mass and Offices and classes in the noviceship. It was lovely walking around the garden cutting branches, leaves,berries and pine cones to make them with and the smell is so wonderful, it really makes me feel blessed and very fortunate, these home made and home grown wreaths are so much nicer. The berries are so bright, red and shiny and the holly glistens, whilst some of the larger pine cones are covered in a white resin – which sticks to everything but smells great.

In the noviceship we are planning entertainments which we lead on two days over Christmas – more about those when they happen, for now we need our thinking caps on. We have also been folding the community  cards and putting them in envelopes to be sent to friends and family. Christmas presents are arriving and are being spirited away by our Prioress to unknown destinations untll they reappear later. In Chapel our antiphons have changed and become more seasonal, Mother Abbess has given out new diaries – in which i have marked my Clothing with joy – and Advent prayer books. We are also planning the decorations which will go up around the 17th December. Sr Sheila puts a short piece about general Christmas customs on the notice board every day or so.

I think that’s all for now, more to come later, keep watching. Pax, Adele.