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Advent Companions

I recently learned of the beautiful Spanish tradition of posada (a Spanish word that means “inn” or “hotel”), in which children dressed as Mary and Joseph go from house to house during Advent inviting their neighbours to welcome the Holy Family into their homes – often by offering them a card or photo with a representation of the Holy Family, such as this one.

Here in the Sisterhood we are getting ready ourselves to welcome not just the Holy Family, but many many guests who will be with us during the Advent and Christmas seasons as well. It is my favourite time of year, when we are practicing special Christmas music, baking cookies, getting the decorations out of the basement and ready to put up on December 23, wrapping presents for our staff, volunteers and guests. In a world full of darkness, and at the darkest time of the year, we look forward with hope and joy to welcoming the one of whom the gospel of John says: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. . . . The light shines and in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And we are also beginning to prepare for our new program for young women: Companions on the Way, to start in September 2016. St. Benedict said in his little Rule (written in about 540 CE but equally relevant today) that “all guests should be received as Christ himself.” We will be welcoming our new companions into our posada, our monastic family, as if they were the holy family, bringing the gift of themselves to us even as we open our home to share our lives with them.

And so we invite our readers to pray for this new ministry of the Sisterhood: for each person God may be calling to join this intentional community for a year, and for the Sisters as they discern and prepare to receive each woman with the hospitality of a true posada:

Living God, you created us in your own image,
to travel with you and toward you in all that we do.
Be present to the women you are calling to be Companions
of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine.
Map the route of their journeys;
give them courage and strength to tread the ancient paths
that bring them, in the end, to you.
We ask this in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, your son.

Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert

Prayer by Sister Sue Elwyn