Premonstratensians and gingerbread

As the holy feast approaches, some of the most beautiful passages from the old testament are uttered in the sanctuary during the Mass. Yesterday, we heard the famous sentences from the Song of Songs, where the Bride sings to her Bridegroom, who comes to her leaping over the hills like a gazelle. St Bernard, friend of our holy father, interprets this to mean the leaping of the promise of the Lord from one generation to the next until the Incarnation; when Bernard heard the genealogy of Jesus read during  the Mass, it was to him like the Bridegroom leaping through history, over the hills of the kings and patriarchs, to join his Bride in the nuptial embrace of Calvary.

Victors Presentation of Samuel

Presentation of Samuel


And today, we heard about the Presentation of the Child Samuel at Shiloh. When Samuel is born, his mother, Hannah, sings the inspired song that Our Blessed Lady sings when she is greeted by Elizabeth: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Of course, it is Hannah singing the song of Our Lady, not the other way around, and so mysterious references in Hannah’s song to a new-born king are lost on the non-Christian reader. It is no co-incidence, I think, that Hannah is also the name of Our Lady’s mother, Anne (which is the same name). As the Bridegroom leaps through the generations of salvation history, so too he leaves behind in his wake the sweet fragrance of the Incarnation.

The sweet pine fragrance of our unintentionally enormous Christmas tree in the Calefactory has been joined today by the Teutonic fragrance of sugar and spice, since Brother Gregory has today constructed our traditional Gingerbread Priory. Even though it is rather warm for the fourth week of Advent, our biscuit canonry, at least, has been covered in the thick layer of snow. If he was feeling more adventurous, he would have also made a gingerbread Premonstratensian too keep guard of the doorbell (instead, there is a snowconfrere), but that can be next year’s project…


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