Christmas in a Benedictine Monastery


By Sister Mary Core, OSB

First published several years ago, this story tells why we wait so long to decorate for Christmas … and what we do once it arrives!

Seventeen poinsettias, 7 trees, 6 candles and a nativity scene – minus Baby Jesus – have been carted into the chapel.

After the final Sunday of Advent (and weeks after many other folks!), the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery are decorating for Christmas. Continue Reading

Advent: Preparing to Meet God Face-to-Face


Sister Jozefa was known for her cookies and her loving, ever-present smile.

By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

On the first Sunday of Advent, we are invited to prepare for the return of Christ, Christ our universal judge and savior.

It’s especially poignant for me this year.

Sister Jozefa had been ailing and so I stopped in to see her after dinner. She was sleeping, so I blessed her and spoke a few quiet, loving words. She died later in the evening. Continue Reading

Celebrating, Treasuring, Growing: What Advent Gives You


By Sister Mary Core, OSB

For most of contemporary society, Advent gets lost in the season of shopping. People rush through malls and big box stores, loading gifts into baskets, buying more than they can afford and collapsing in exhaustion when they get home.

Which is why – if you were to come to St. Mary Monastery now – you might be surprised to find no Christmas trees, lights or sparkle. (Of course, those do come later!)

That’s because we’re preparing for Christmas here. We’re focusing on Advent! Continue Reading

Be Vigilant! 1st Sunday of Advent


By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent.”

“People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world.”

St. Luke’s Gospel (Luke 21: 25-28; 34-36) for this 1st Sunday of Advent seems prophetic for this Advent season as we reel from the bombing and killing in Paris just 2 weeks ago. Continue Reading

The Mystery of Mid-December

praying-childBy Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

During these last 3 weeks of Advent, we have reflected on the words, Watch, Prepare, and Light. They are themes taken from the Sunday readings.

On our 4th and final Sunday, the readings direct us to the word Mystery. It is used by Paul in his letter to the Romans.

We have plenty of mysteries today. For instance, isn’t it a mystery that the ELF on the SHELF is such a motivator for a child’s behavioral change? In my day, it was Santa’s Elves peeking in the window to tell Santa of our wrongdoings. (My father used that one frequently.) Continue Reading

The Light that is God … through You

bell-tower-by-sheila-at-sunrise-for-fb-and-blogBy Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

If  watch and prepare were the  buzz words for the 1st and 2nd Sundays of Advent, I suggest that light is a key word to praying the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.

When the bells call us to Vespers at 4:50, we enter our chapel and are met with a glorious light show. The sun streaming through the west windows catches the dust motes in a dance of red, orange pink and violet colors which no artist could reproduce. Continue Reading

Who Would You Say You Are?

stef-leading-preschoolersBy Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Sister Stefanie’s Advent Scripture Study continues today. Read the 3rd Sunday readings and ponder them. Feel free to comment here, or – if you’d rather have a private conversation – email her at She’ll get back to you right away!

In Sunday’s gospel we hear the priests and Levites ask John the Baptist, “Who are you?” Hmmm. Who would you say YOU are? Continue Reading