You know me--I like it when timing is more than a coincidence. The Prior of the OSBCn Community here in Tempe allowed me to schedule my oblation for the third Sunday of Advent, not only signifying a heart-opening beginning, which is what Advent is in relationship to the liturgical year, but also signifying a time of rejoicing. The Latin Introit for this Sunday is where Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, gets its nickname:
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.
Could there be a more fitting liturgical opening on the day of my entrance into this community?
When I pray today, I find myself saying in faith, Rejoice. Rejoice. The Lord is near at hand. She is near at hand, and you need have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by constant prayer, and with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to Her. Lady, you have blessed your creation and turned us from our deadening captivity.
It is a fitting day indeed. It is an empowering day. Today I committed to the regular work prayer, and I find in that prayer the freedom to transcend my self-concern. Each welcome from the members of my community was a tap-tap-tap on the still stony shell around my heart, bidding it to break free. To stretch out my arms, to enfold sisters and brothers and neighbors in love: these are my new tasks. What a strange gift. What a novel reminder of my baptism. What a poignant icon of the divine spark that finds fuel in my humanity.
I feel more fully myself today than I ever have in my life. Here in this place, accompanied by my family, my church community, my sister and brother Benedictines, and my holy cloud of witnesses from every part of the earth and God's heavenly banquet, I am home.