New Melleray Abbey, sanctuary.
(sorry it is so pix-elated!)
A reader of this blog thought I should post more about monastic things, and I don't want to get yelled at for my silly posts - but there is not much to say - Trappists don't talk much.
Anyway, I remember several of Dom David's homilies during Advent, focusing upon the liturgy and Our Lady. (He was very much like Jane Hathaway's brother - she was the bank secretary in the "Beverly Hillbillies" - Fr. David was rather dry and a bit formal, although very friendly, and he really did have a sense of humor.) He is a hermit now I believe.
Nevertheless, after so many years, I can only recall there were no decorations in the Church - Trappists don't do that. Midnight Mass was solemn and very simple, in keeping with Cistercian tradition. After Mass we could go to the refectory for cookies and treats in silence. There was a sort of Charlie Brown tree in there, with lights. Nothing lavish. It was very quiet and nice. (No booze. For most - I do believe we had a couple of closet tipplers however.)
I quickly went to my cell to pray and go back to sleep.
Christmas day there may have been music in the refectory - for sure there was no work. I think the novices got together. I seem to remember Br. DJ got a butt-load of goodies from his parents - and we ate most of it. (He stashed more in his cell. Correction - DJ contacted me and told me he had long left the monastery at that point - so I guess someone else got the care package from mums and dadums - but DJ did have a stash of stuff in his cell - I know because I moved into it after he left! :) I was like Harry Potter at Hogwarts - I got nothing - and I wouldn't have wanted it otherwise.
I really liked it that way. I wanted to be so poor like the Infant Jesus, and I felt He granted my prayer. It was a special first Christmas in the monastery. It was there where I learned to love the silence and solitude of that Holy Night with all of it's simplicity. Later, as a pilgrim, poor and alone on Beacon Hill, passing the lighted and decorated houses of the gentry on my way to St. Anthony's on Arch Street for midnight Mass, I rejoiced in the same poverty and loneliness - so filled with the joy of the Nativity of Our Lord. I still prefer a quiet, contemplative Christmas.
It's a good thing.