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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Experience a Consecrated Christmas
Hopeful expectation gives way to heartfelt joy


By Joan Kingsland

The following is a glimpse into the experience of the Regnum Christi consecrated women as they prepare for the feast to celebrate the birth of our Savior…

Greenville, Rhode Island – December 24, 2010 -- In the Regnum Christi consecrated life, hopeful expectation gives way to a heartfelt joy on Christmas Eve and throughout the Christmas Season. 

The heart of our preparation is to follow the tide of the liturgy. The purple priest vestments and the Advent songs throughout the month are constant reminders of our need to put our hearts in order to receive the Christ child anew. Part of our preparation includes making small sacrifices, as well as prayer and much personal effort to draw closer to Christ. Many of us focus our half-hour morning meditation on some aspect of the season, such as seeking a purer, humbler heart, emptied of self and more Christ-like.

Christmas Signs

We began on Friday, Dec. 17, 2010, putting out external signs of the season.  Suddenly evergreen boughs, trees and Christmas ornaments appear all over.  Never has there been a more “feminine” tree than the one in our
The consecrated women’s Christmas Room
The consecrated women’s Christmas Room
main hall, decorated with gold ribbon and bows, glass baubles, shimmering objects and soft lights. It is hard to take our eyes off it.

This year we tried something new: we held a posada for the students of Immaculate Conception High School. In Mexico there is a tradition of having one posada per night during the nine days before Christmas. (Maritza, one of our consecrated sisters, says in her town of Cotija, they begin from the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.)

Following the celebration, there is a procession door to door, in imitation of Mary and Joseph seeking a place at the inn. At each door, the people outside, holding candles, sing carols and a special, funny song asking to be let inside. The people inside the door sing back their part of the tune, which includes some “unfriendly” words basically telling them to go away.  Those seeking “posada” then pray some litanies and move onto the next door.

In Mexico the procession goes from house to house. But our home is so large that the students of both schools move from one side of the house to the next. When they get to the last door, the people on the inside sing words of welcome and open the door to all for the fiesta part of the evening.



The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve for us begins with our Christmas dinner. We also have the tradition of “aguinaldos”, which involves giving a bag of candy to each person. Someone in our house sewed little Santa sacks from Christmas cloth for this purpose.  There is no need to horde the leftovers from one meal to another, since they are refilled throughout the week.

The meal concludes with carols sung by our Mater Ecclesiae Choir. “O Holy Night” is our favorite. 

Shortly after dinner, we choose our patron saints for the coming year. One by one, we randomly choose numbers from a bowl.  A card matching that number includes the name of a saint and a virtue we are supposed to work on, and a quote about that virtue from the Pope. We listen eagerly to each one, sighing enviously at the one who gets St. John the Evangelist and the virtue “intimate friendship with Christ.”

The Eucharistic Celebration

We have a short amount of time before Mass begins. While some prepare their hearts with quiet prayer, others return to the kitchen and dining room to finish setting up for breakfast or to put the finishing touches on the Christmas Room and remove the huge drape that has hidden their work for the month.

Inside the chapel, below the altar is a little crib with the child Jesus, laid upon a bed of poinsettias laced with just a trace of gold ribbon. Poinsettias line the back altar and side alcoves and in front of our Lady. The lamps on the side are strung with wreaths.

We have practiced our hymns ahead of time so that we can sing with all our hearts.  Our Eucharistic Celebration comes to an end with the adoration of the Christ Child.  Our chaplain holds the “baby” while each of us comes forward to kiss his forehead or cheek, while we sing “Adeste Fideles.”

Our Christmas Room

Afterwards we go to the Christmas Room where we say silent prayers of welcome to the Holy Babe and sing him a few Christmas lullabies. The room includes a stable to house large figures of the Holy Family, accompanying shepherds, magi and animals. The walls are draped with a fitting nightline.  On the side is a street with houses and stores.  Our consecrated sister Helen made signposts in Aramaic showing the way to Jerusalem and Egypt.

The Feast of Epiphany is a big part of our Christmas celebrations. On that day three of us dress up like Kings and three more like their accompanying pages. Their identity is supposed to be kept secret.  (Everyone tries to guess who they are weeks ahead of time.)

They maintain the semblance of seeking the Christ Child while bringing up “funny” things that have happened throughout the year. Amusing letters to the Magi are read out loud, written by different groups of consecrated members.

Then refreshments are served and presents given out. We receive gifts of items we need, such as slippers or purses. We also receive things we asked for in connection to our responsibilities.  For instance, those who work in the kitchen may receive a new frying pan or electric mixer.  

After Epiphany, the poinsettias and child still remain at the front of the chapel; but they are moved to the side until February 2, the Feast of the Presentation.  It is always sad to see Him go. But at least we enjoy celebrating the full length of the Christmas Season.




Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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