Sunday, March 2, 2014

This Week in Madonna House - February 23-March 1

Well, on the whole it was just about as quiet a week in Madonna House as ever happens here. A number of departures on the guest front meant that we were just about as low as we ever get in terms of the number of people staying with us—about fifteen right now. If everyone on the guest list shows up when they’re supposed to, however, this will change and we will be a full house again by Easter.

The week itself was really quiet and uneventful. In MH terms, this means we all just kept on with our regular work without having too much to say about it. For myself (if I dare speak personally) this meant a mixture of appointments with spiritual directees, constant attending to e-mails, and in between those two priorities working on whatever writing project I am currently engaged in. At this point, it is not a book, but a week-long course on liturgy I will be teaching in a few weeks out in Bruno, Saskatchewan. It’s one of those deals where I talk all day, every day, from Monday to Friday, so has involved quite a bit of prep work. Quiet, in other words, does not mean inactive!

The quietness of the week ended over this weekend, mind you. This is the weekend before Lent, and so we have our little (very little) MH version of Mardi Gras that breaks out around now. As it happens, a local Catholic college produced their annual play, which this year was The Sound of Music, and quite a number of us went to that and enjoyed it greatly. Saturday was our own Pre-Lent Event, an evening of song and skits and general silliness that is always highly anticipated in the community.

The hype around this evening is such that I have taken to sardonically referring to Lent as the liturgical season that follows the Pre-Lent Event. It is great fun, mind you, and the creativity and humor in evidence is always amazing. After a delicious supper of home made pizza (which is a huge treat here), we all trundled down the road to St. Mary’s, one of our larger buildings, where there is an auditorium big enough for all of us.

The skits were high quality this year. We had a ‘Ferri Tale’ featuring a certain MH priest of very tall stature and imposing presence playing Little Red Riding Hood (I didn’t know we had so much red fabric on hand), while one of our elderly pioneer women of small stature and normally gentle demeanor was the Big Bad Wolf. The farmers were all men in black so as to be a ‘Cash crop’, singing about life at St. Benedict’s Acres to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues (although the farm manager stressed that the farm is not a prison).

The gift shop busted out their proposed TV ad promoting the upcoming 50th anniversary of this particular apostolate (the goods are all donated or made here; the proceeds all go to the missions of the developing world). To the tune of ‘On the Boardwalk’ they promoted all the cool things you can get ‘At the Gift Shop (gift shop!).

The kitchen staff, all young women, changed their names to Nutmeg, Sage, Rosemary, and Ginger, and sang about how they really, really wanted (did you know, did you know what they really, really wanted?) the kitchen to be under Our Lady’s care, so that the work could get done safely. It was all very spicy and girly—I’m not sure what the reference was, mind you.

In between acts the MCs for the evening entertained us with was truly the lamest series of magic tricks and dance interludes ever seen on the human stage (Watch him tie knots in a rope! Watch her dance around a sword!), which their dead pan delivery and earnestness transformed into high comedy.

Anyhow, it wasn’t all broad comedy and silly sight gags. We have some very good  musicians here right now, and so there was some fine performances there, too. A good time was had by all.

As I mentioned last week, MH does tend to be a fairly serious community—our life is great here, really, with much joy and goodness, but it is indeed a life of hard work and unstinting effort to live the Gospel. So it is always a great thing when we bust out a bit and just have a good silly time together.

Meanwhile, Lent is upon us—we celebrate the Byzantine liturgy today which is Cheesefare Sunday, the Sunday immediately before the Lenten fast begins. Next week I will talk about Lent in MH. Meanwhile, be assured of our prayers for you all as we begin the great pilgrimage of the Church towards Easter and our entry into the joy and glory of the mystery of redemption found in that feast.

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