This morning was one of the first in a while on which it was actually warm enough to walk to the Poor Clare monastery for Mass (as opposed to me pretending it's warm enough because I would rather walk.) It's also light now at six in the morning when I set out. He must increase, said John of the Light of the world. It is one of our great privileges here in the northern hemisphere that astronomy imitates revelation.
Sister Sacristan had two announcements for me this morning. The first was a liturgical direction, delivered conveniently between the opening prayer and the first reading: "There's no chalice for the sisters, Father. They have colds."
The second was some news from their community: they had been joined by a new postulant. And there she was, as I noticed myself when I gave the greeting at the beginning of Mass. Surely it's a great joy for the sisters; they are an aging community and have not had many vocations in recent years. When I was last in Boston studying for ordination, they had two novices at one point, one of whom I used to run into on the subway sometimes (what she was doing out, I have no idea). To the other riders of the Orange Line, we must have looked like a funny couple indeed.
I was thinking what a tremendous thing it must be to enter such a community, to propose to oneself and to God the plan of living the rest of one's life within one set of walls and with one set of sisters. I realize that sometimes we mendicant Franciscans put such an emphasis on our homelessness and itinerancy as partly constitutive of our evangelical poverty, but it is also a holy poverty to profess stability and the renunciation of 'going out' into the world in search of material support. Clare knew this, of course, that stability and enclosure assure a very intense poverty indeed.
In you charity offer a prayer for the new postulant.