Christ is Born for Us,
Come Let Us Adore Him
Christmas Invitatory Antiphon
The Redemptoristine Nuns of Esopus, NY were blessed to have a full range of liturgies for the Solemnity of Christmas. It must be said that the concurrence of the Fourth Sunday of Advent with the Eve of Christmas made the rubrics of proper celebration a bit of a challenge. A number of guests joined us for the mass of the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Later we began our evening office in a dark chapel for the last recitation of the Christmas Novena. This was followed by the Martyrology (The Proclamation of the Birth of Jesus) chanted by Sr. Mary Jane Stefanik. Then Vespers began, chanted by the community.
Following a quick supper, we welcomed guests arriving to join us in the Mass of Midnight which we began at 8pm in procession to the creche while singing "Silent Night, Holy Night." Our prioress, Sr. Paula Schmidt placed the babe in the creche and we proceeded with the Invitatory beginning the Vigil Office of Readings. Once again in procession we entered the chapel where the Psalms and Readings were offered. We responded to the last reading by singing the "Gloria" accompanied by organ and handbells ringing joyfully. Father James Keaveney, CSsR, Rector of Mt. St. Alphonsus Retreat Center and former Provincial of the Redemptorist Baltimore Province was presider. Our chapel was festively decorated with abundant poinsettias provided for us by a generous local nursery and other trimming creatively arranged by Sr. Moira Quinn. The singing at mass was much enjoyed and enhanced by the enthusiastic male voices of a contingent of Marist Brothers. Following Mass, our guests joined us in the refectory for holiday refreshments and exchange of good wishes.
On Christmas Day we celebrated the Christmas Mass of the Day at 10am. Later we joined the Redemptorist priests at Mt. St. Alphonsus for a festive dinner. Delicious food (prepared by many) and interesting conversation was enjoyed by all. It is a great blessing to share such wonderful occasions with our brothers. We are so grateful for their generosity and friendship.
During Vespers (Evening Prayer II of Christmas), as is our Redemptoristine custom on the 25th of every month, we were given a short but very inspirational talk by our Prioress. In Italian these devotion encouraging talks are called 'ferverinos'. Immediately following we renewed our religious vows of "poverty, chastity and obedience in the Church and in the world for the sake of humanity."
Our Order has many customs that follow through out the season to Epiphany. Stay tuned.