This week in Madonna House the most newsworthy event was one of our tri-annual day of recollection, held on the feast of the Presentation, February 2. Our general custom in recent years is to have a day of recollection three times a year (the other two days are on Catherine’s anniversary of death, Dec 14, and sometime in July as part of our summer program). The program for the February one is simple enough—a quiet morning in our dormitories, a festive Mass with the tradition blessing of and procession with candles, and then communal silence for the afternoon with Eucharistic Adoration, broken by a short conference from one of the priests, ending with a solemn Vespers and Benediction.
This year being the Year for Consecrated Life in the Church, the conference by Fr. David May simply presented the letter of Pope Francis inaugurating that year, along with some relevant thoughts from Catherine Doherty. MH is not precisely ‘consecrated life’ in the canonical sense of the word; our promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience, while very serious and real and defining of how we live here are technically private promises that have no binding force in church law. (It’s complicated—don’t ask me to explain, because I really can’t!)
But we see ourselves as a sort of bridge between the traditional forms of religious life and the lay vocation, ourselves a lay community partaking of the nature of consecrated life. The whole ‘point’, if you will, of vita consecrata in the Church is to bear witness to the radical and total demands of God and the Gospel of Christ upon the human person, His absolute claim to all we are and do. MH, by living this totality in the lay state, bears witness to what Vatican II brought to the fore, namely the universal call to this totality, the call to all baptized people to become the saints of God we are made to be.
So that was our day on Monday, to ponder these things in the silence of our hearts. We are also getting ready to study some of these things in our winter staff study days, when we take some time on Friday afternoons to assemble in small groups or work as individuals on various matters of interest, this time on themes around this year in the Church.
Besides that, it was a fairly quiet normal week around here. A few more guests have trickled in, and the place is not quite as quiet as it was on that front. We are getting into one of the busy seasons for the priest’s department, as Lent approaches, and parishes and other groups hold retreats, missions, conferences. I personally have four events coming up in the next two months varying from one day to two weeks in length, and am factually scrambling to find time these days to prepare talks and such for them. Another of our priests is away this weekend for a women’s retreat in Ottawa, and there are various other such things in the offing for us.
The applicants (speaking of classes and talks) continue their formation. We currently have eight applicants—four lay men, one priest, and three lay women—although one is helping at our house in Edmonton right now. They gather on Friday afternoon for their class time, covering over the course of two years classes on Scripture, on the Constitution and the Little Mandate of MH, and on a wide variety of topics relevant to our history, spirit, and apostolate. In addition the first year applicants meet every night after supper to read through the history of the apostolate written by Catherine in the 1960s. This year that history is being delightfully supplemented by our reading of Fr. Eddie Doherty’s A Cricket in My Heart which tells the same story from his rather unique point of view and voice.
Other than that, it’s same old-same old. A quiet week in the country, in the very dead of winter, but in the ordinariness of it all, remarkably busy and full of hidden life. Be assured of our prayers for all of you and for the world in the midst of it all.