Well, this week in MH has been... uh, quite a week, actually.
For those readers of this blog who are also friends of our apostolate in some other venue, it is no news that Fr. Patrick McNulty died Thursday evening, after a long time of serious illness. His body is being received at the St. Mary's chapel this afternoon, waked this evening, and then the funeral is tomorrow.
To be somewhat personal (because what else is blogging for?), I find myself unable to write too much about Fr. Pat right now. Maybe later. He was a great friend of mine, a wonderful and unique individual who enriched and enlivened all of our lives here, and to be honest I am quite grieved at his passing, as much as I am glad his long suffering is over. So... I will just leave it at that. Pray for him, and pray for MH--while we're all buckling down and doing what needs to be done, a funeral this close to Christmas requires an awful lot of generosity and flexibility on everyone's part. Fr. Pat was well known and well loved far and wide, and we expect quite a large crowd to be here tomorrow.
Meanwhile, that was hardly the only thing that went on this week here. Sunday last was also St. Lucy's day, even though the liturgical celebration was supplanted by Gaudete Sunday. So, Lucy came as she did, with a crown of light and with sweet bread. We have another Lucy custom, derived from somewhere in Hungary. Wheat is blessed and planted that day in a small pot, symbolizing the coming of Christ who is the Bread of Life. Watered and tended for the rest of Advent, the Lucy wheat will be placed near the manger scene at Christmas.
The next day was, of course, December 14. This is the anniversary of death of our founder Catherine Doherty, and we had our customary day of recollection. This meant a relaxed morning with a later Mass time, and then silence for the afternoon with Adoration. I gave a conference early in the afternoon, speaking on the theme of mercy in the writings of Catherine. I wrote a book on the subject, so it's fairly easy for me to work up a talk on it. The day ended with solemn Vespers and Benediction, followed by a festive supper.
After that we had precisely three days of 'ordinary' life before Fr. Pat's death on Thursday evening. This is largely taken up with Christmas preparations--decorating and cooking. For my part I whipped up a batch of 70 butter tarts one evening, bringing my total this year to a record high of 220. Friday evening we went Christmas carolling in the neighbourhood, a tradition in MH that goes back to the early years. There are people who are now grandparents who remember us coming to sing carols when they were little children, and who cherish the custom.
The last two days have seen a huge inrush of guests, and this will continue until Christmas. The women's guest dorm in particular is full up this year.
Well, there are no doubt about fifty other things that happened this week in Madonna House, but to be honest it's all kind of blurry at this point. Do remember us in your prayers, especially these next two days which will be very full of both emotion and work, and know that we are indeed praying for all of you in the midst of it all.