Sunday, March 13, 2016

This Week in Madonna House - March 6-12

So, to get the big news item out of the way first… another week, another sobornost! Last week I mentioned that the Madonna House women’s department had completed their election, and that Elizabeth Bassarear had been elected by sobornost, that is, by unanimous ballot, to be the next director general of that department.

This week it was the turn of the MH priests, and I am happy to report that we have elected Fr. David Linder to be the next DG of priests, succeeding Fr. David May in that position. So in a period of about five months all three branches of MH (the lay men completed their election in November, with Larry Klein being elected) have reached this beautiful gift of sobornost, of unity of mind and heart, in the matter of electing our leaders for the next four years. Elizabeth will begin her term of office in November, and Fr. David his term in late July.

So of course all of that is a great gift and a great joy for us. The MH community really is unique in that we elect our directors by unanimous ballot, but we consider this to be a vital part of our spirituality, the call to a unity so profound that it can only come from God. And it is always a holy thing when this unity is expressed in something so concrete and practical as an election, so it has been a ‘thrice-holy’ time in MH lately.

What else is going on? Well, for the men’s department, the sugar bush is the big push. 1500 taps are in, and the sap is flowing freely. Weather conditions have been ideal for this—below freezing at night, and warm sunny days. They have already done their first boil, and the buckets and vats are filling up, literally, as I write these words and you read them.

The warm days also means major thawing of snow, and so of course it is the season of flood control, lots of little trenches being dug into the ice to ensure that water flows away from the buildings, not towards them.

For the women, preparations for Easter continue apace. One of our applicants working in the kitchen asked the woman in charge of the kitchen something about the liturgies for Holy Week. She answered that she really couldn’t remember what we do… but she could remember in detail the menus for each meal. In other words, the kitchen is stepping into high gear for the great feast days of the year. St. Raphael’s has been a place of pysanky making, the Ukranian Easter eggs being a large part of our paschal décor. They also have quite a bit of other work to do getting ready for the Triduum. The sacristans also are hard at work preparing for this busy time.

Basically the men are dealing with what’s gushing at them in the here and now, while the women are all getting ready for what will be gushing at us in a couple weeks time. And the priests have been running around doing missions (I was giving one locally this week, for example), and also getting ready for our own Triduum responsibilities. We will be helping out in some of the parishes in the diocese which lack resident priests.

So we are much in the moment and its duties these days. Meanwhile, the seasons are changing in other ways. The applicants and staff have both ended their classes for the year; the guests will have their last class on the Catechism this coming Wednesday. Our gardeners are busy doing early spring work: the apple trees are being pruned, and the lettuce is planted in the greenhouse.

So it’s a pretty busy time around here these days—all of this is going on against the backdrop of our ordinary work, all the little and not-so-little stuff that is getting done here day in and day out. It is really a beautiful and vibrant season of the year here, with much expectancy and joy even as we pass through the final weeks of Lent. And know that we are praying for all of you and lifting up our troubled world to the throne of God through it all.

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