Something to Celebrate: Mother John Mary’s Feast Day Gaudeamus
Saint Anthony the Abbot once wisely taught that just as a bow cannot be kept always taut or it will snap, so to for the well-being of monks (or nuns!) it is necessary to have times of relaxation. On January 17, the holy abbot’s feast day, we gladly followed his advice and celebrated (a little belatedly) a Gaudeamus day in honor of Mother John Mary’s feast day. “Gaudeamus” is Latin for “let us rejoice,” and these days are times for extra recreation and sisterly companionship, usually in celebration of a special occasion, like the superior’s feast day, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July.
Since it was Mother John Mary’s first feast day as superior, we couldn’t help making a bit of extra fuss. The festivities started the night before, when Mother was respectfully exiled from the refectory so we could decorate with all manner of sparkly blue ribbons, flowers, tablecloths, and bows. Even Mother’s dish of apple slices got a makeover – no more melamine bowls for them, no, these fancy apple slices got to live in a regular penthouse for the day, a glass bowl trimmed with festive curly ribbons.
The next morning after Holy Mass, we officially inaugurated the Gaudeamus by singing a little song in Mother John Mary’s honor, based on a Danish birthday song from Sr. Cecilia Maria’s family.
“Mother’s Gaudeamus Day, so we celebrate for it is today, Mother’s Gaudeamus Day, so we celebrate today! To honor her, come join us as we all will sing, to honor her, a melody we’ll sing – Tra la-la-la-la-la-la-la…” etc
At Mother John Mary’s request, we spent part of the day watching a new film on St. Joan of Arc. The young actress playing Joan captured the courage and faith of the “Maid of Orleans,” and the film sparked lots of conversations comparing the movie account with the facts of her life – over all, it was a remarkably accurate account!
After supper, Mother opened her feast day gifts. Sister Catherine Marie added a fun twist to the unwrapping, and blindfolded Mother John Mary! Then, Mother held up each of the items and we gave her clues about them until she was able to guess what she was holding.
We rounded out the day with a skit performed by the Juniorate and Novitiate. Entitled “Mother John Mary’s Identity Crisis,” the script was based on the numerous occasions of name-confusion that followed Mother’s election as superior. We’ll end with a slide show of some highlights for your enjoyment!