Holy Week and Easter 2019 at Santa Rita Abbey
Christ is risen, Alleluia!
We had a beautiful Holy Week and Easter this year, and we hope you did, too! We are most grateful to Fr. Thomas, monk of New Clairvaux Abbey in CA, for being our chaplain during these special weeks, and to his abbot and community for sharing him with us. Now as we bask in the over-flowing grace of the Easter season, we’d like to share with you some photos from our recent celebrations.
As Jesus rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:36-38)
Our two newcomers, Sister Hildgard and Postulant Sharon, had fun dying the eggs for our upcoming Easter celebration.
In the morning Mother Vicki taught Sharon how to make Hot Cross Buns, while Sr. Miriam looked on. Mmm, mmm! We enjoyed them with scrambled eggs at our late afternoon supper. After this nourishing meal we were ready to enter into the Sacred Triduum which begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
During supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, Jesus rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. (John 13:3-5)
After the Gospel and the homily by Fr. Thomas, Mother Vicki washed the feet of each sister in the community. Sisters Esther and Rita were her assistants this year.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament was honored with incense and taken to the Altar of Repose while Sisters and guests sang Pange, lingua.
Meanwhile, out of doors, the full moon rose in the east as the sun set in the west. Back inside, adoration followed Mass up until Midnight as we kept watch and prayed with the Lord Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
The Solemn Afternoon Liturgy
So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews. (John 19:17-19)
Fr. Thomas, Sr. Pam, M. Vicki, Sharon and Sr. Rita read the Passion according to St. John. Later, the whole community processed into the sanctuary to venerate the cross.
The Easter Vigil
Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever … May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. (from the rite of blessing the fire and lighting the Paschal candle)
Our Vigil began at 2:30 a.m. Yes, really, at 2:30 a.m.! No wonder we don’t have a crowd in the guest chapel!–but nine brave souls did join us for the Vigil. The weather was windy, but the porch outside of the guest chapel was a perfect shelter for the kindling of the Easter fire and the lighting of the Easter candle. Sisters took turns with the readings and psalms for the vigil. Mother Vicki read the lesson from the Letter to the Romans.
Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Then it was time for the chantress to intone the first Alleluia, that wonderful musical praise of God which we’d kept hidden in our hearts all during Lent. (The first of many Alleluias throughout the day!) Fr. Thomas proclaimed the Easter Gospel and preached an inspiring homily.
Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. (Luke 24:5-6)
In the photos below: Fr. Thomas blesses the Easter water (note the shell-shaped basin among the flowers around the candle); Sr. Rita was the altar server; and at the end of the Mass, Sr. Esther takes a flame from the candle to light the new sanctuary lamp before the tabernacle. The risen Christ is back home in our chapel (not that he ever completely left it, he who is omni-present)!
Easter Day Sunrise
At dawn our photographer went for a hike to see the Easter sun rise on the Santa Rita Mountains and our Santa Rita monastery.
Easter Day Mass
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” (John 20:1-2)
In the photos: the Paschal candle bathed in the light of Easter Day; Sisters Esther, Sharon and Pam in first choir singing the hymn at Tierce, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”; Fr. Thomas preaching his second Easter homily of the day; a close-up of the Consecration of the Mass; the Sisters in second choir during the Consecration.
Easter Day Dinner
After Midday Prayer at noon, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in our refectory with Fr. Thomas and our three neighboring Benedictine monks from Erlac Monastery. In the photos: Fr. Thomas says grace with Sr. Clare and Sr. Rita on either side of him; Brother Pachomius and Sr. Hildgard in conversation; Sr. Kate with Br. Laurence; and Br. Dominique with Sr. Clare. Good food, good company … and afterwards, a nice long nap!
We hope your own celebration of Easter Day, and all the days since, have been filled with the quiet joy and abiding peace of our risen Lord Jesus. May we all be channels of Christ’s peace for our troubled world!
Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you … Do not be afraid!