Christmas 2019 at Santa Rita Abbey
Merry Christmas! Here are a few glimpses of our Christmas Eve, Midnight, and Christmas Day celebrations. We hope that your own celebrations were full of wonder, grace and thanksgiving. We are blessed to have Fr. Thomas, a monk of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA, as our Christmas chaplain.
Christmas Eve 4:00 p.m.
Just before Vespers on Christmas Eve, we had our annual Christmas tree blessing. Fr. Thomas gave the blessing, and Mother Vicki turned on the tree lights for the first time. Afterwards, we processed down the cloister where the lights draped over the window blinds are also lit for the first time this year. In church we celebrated Vespers I of Christmas: the official Christmas Season has begun!
Christ, King of peace, is greatly magnified; and all earth’s nations long to see the face of God’s own Son.” (Vespers antiphon)
Christmas Midnight Mass
In holy splendor, before the day star, I have begotten you. (Communion antiphon)
When the sun appears, rising high in the heavens, then shall you behold the King of kings, proceeding forth from God his Father, like a bridegroom who comes forth from his tent. (Vespers antiphon)
O shepherds, tell us–tell us, whom did you see? Proclaim the message, speak the word: Who has now appeared on earth? “We have seen the newborn Lord, and choirs of angels praising him, singing hymns of peace and joy,” alleluia, alleluia. (Lauds antiphon)
After Lauds at 7:00 we all went to the kitchen to prepare Christmas dinner before Bishop Edward Weisenburger, Bishop of Tucson, and Sr. Lois Paha, Director of Pastoral Services for our diocese, arrived for Mass at 10:30. Eleven sisters working in one crowded kitchen? A sort of cheerful, holy chaos!
Christmas Day Mass
A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests; and his name shall be called Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Entrance antiphon)
It was a joy to have Bishop Edward Weisenburger offer the Christmas morning Mass for us at 10:30 a.m. This is his second year in a row, so it seems a tradition is in the making! This year he brought Sr. Lois Paha, OP with him. Sr. Lois is head of the Pastoral Services department for our diocese.
There were seventeen seated at our table: the bishop, our chaplain Fr. Thomas, Sr. Lois, our Benedictine brothers the three monks of Erlac monastery, and the eleven of us. For dessert we enjoyed Mother Vicki’s Christmas specialty: a creamy eggnog pudding. YUM!
After dinner dishes (another holy chaos) and a nice long nap, we gathered around the Christmas tree for the opening of gifts: mostly books, food, and socks!
Christmas Vespers and Adoration
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!