To this all-gladsome feast attend!

all the nuns were sleeping
the sun had gone to bed;
jumped a postulant
this is what she said…
rather, what she thought – because the Great Silence was on)
today! It’s today! It’s today! It’s today! It’s today! It’s today! It’s today!”

childishness, you may be thinking. I agree. But you see, that’s just one of the
nicest things about being a postulant in a religious community – you’re one of
the community’s babies, and for us, things like St Dominic’s Day are just as exciting
as Christmas to a 4-year-old.

we had plenty of right to be excited, too. I mean, one’s Holy Father’s Feast
Day only comes around once a year, and one must celebrate it properly. Now,
doing something properly, as you all know I’m sure, involves extensive
preparation. This we did, commencing about a week and a half in advance,
because there was so much to be done. There was a meal to be planned,
decorations to be thought out, a Sung Mass in the Convent to practice for, and
the entertainment for the day needed rehearsing (more on that later).
reached fever pitch the day before Saturday, the 4th of August, for
we had to squeeze in an enormous amount of things in readiness for the next day.
There were last-minute rehearsals of St Dominic’s Mass, frenzied cutting and
drawing and pinning on mysterious pieces of cardboard and draught-preventers
(Mother Micaela was quite mystified as to what was going to become of them in
particular), desperate attempts to get all the flowers done in time, and to top
it all off, we had to put in a turbo-charged effort to get our house duties
done in amongst all this, because there was no way anybody was going to be
allowed to do something as mundane as cleaning on the Saturday.
I don’t know quite how, all of this managed to be crammed into Friday. We managed
to get to sleep after all the circulating adrenaline and cortisol had settled
down, and this now brings me to where I was at the start of these ramblings
with that one pervading thought on waking – “It’s today!” I hope I have now
justified the childishness a little.
you may ask, did things live up to expectation? We all know that sometimes the
build-up can be more than the event itself – I’m guessing (but I don’t know for
sure, seeing as we don’t have TVs or radios or newspapers or worldly things
like that around here, of course!) that some of the Olympians in London are
feeling like that right now. However, this was most assuredly not the case this
4th of August, because the day more than lived up to expectations,
and the effort involved in the build-up only served to augment the enjoyment of
the day. I speak from my own perspective here, but knowing that the
flower-arrangers were hurrying about looking both frantic and furtive the
evening before, but not knowing exactly what they were constructing, while I
was hurrying about myself, only made the vision of the Chapel and convent full
of gorgeous posies (with a bona fide garland around St Dominic’s statue!) all
the more lovely upon encountering them in the morning. It gave that really
satisfying feeling of “so that’s what they were up to!”
Office and meditation, we quickly rearranged the furniture in the Chapel
because something very special was planned for Mass – a Conventual Sung Mass!
Incredibly, the attempt to fit a keyboard into our little Chapel was successful,
and shortly afterwards Fr Delsorte processed into the strains of “Hail, St
Dominic”. Next, Sr Raymond’s hard work in the past week or so was shown to pay
dividends; we sang the Proper confidently and followed the Ceremonial with all
of the beautiful Dominican inclinations just as she had taught us. Father
preached us a lovely sermon on how we can imitate St Dominic in our lives, and
these thoughts were reinforced in our minds as we sang the triumphant “Sing The
Mighty Champion’s Praises” as a recessional to conclude Holy Mass. I have to
say I am really looking forward to our next Conventual Sung Mass – it really
was something.

next item for the day was another extra-special occurrence: a hot brunch! The
kitchen was thrown open to all comers, and pretty much everyone came to help
prepare the feast. Bacon, eggs, beans, French toast, fresh salsa,
crumpets…after a whirlwind effort, something worthy of an Enid Blyton Famous
Five repast was before us. It wasn’t before us for long, though, because by
that stage we were a bit beyond peckish and we proceeded to relieve the serving
bowls of their burdens. A kind gesture, really, if you think about it.

clearing up, we said Sext, and then proceeded to ready ourselves for the
much-awaited entertainment of the day. This entertainment was to be put on by
the novices and postulants for the amusement of the Professed Sisters, and as a
result, an atmosphere of furtiveness and secrecy hung over the convent in the
days preceding. Some last-minute assembly of props and costumes was required,
so the suspense was prolonged, but the performers were ready at last! The Play,
so long awaited, finally came to life! What it was actually about is a bit
complicated, so that will be posted as a separate item on the blog, but the
précis is that Alice in Wonderland fell down another hole into a world made up
of magical Lands populated by various problematic characters and she had to
find her way out again. This will be expanded on in another post, but suffice
it to say here that the West End and Broadway’s losses are very much our
Convent’s gain.
It took a while for our elevated spirits to return to something like normal
afterwards; laughing that much tends to have a bit of a lasting effect, at
least in my experience. We worked off our surplus energy with a delightful
afternoon of walking and good conversation and a bit of skipping – but don’t expect
us to do Double-Dutch; some people only narrowly avoided ending up in a
hospital with multiple traumatic injuries. 
All too soon, the evening was upon us, but some angelic Sisters still found some energy to whip up a scrumptious dinner. By this stage, the excitement of the day found us in the happy stage of savouring it at a leisurely pace with all the day’s moments to look back on.
then – the bell went, enveloping the Convent in the Great Silence once again.
Fourteen happy souls went to sleep that night, secure in the knowledge that their
Holy Father St Dominic and Our Blessed Lady continue to watch over them,
winning for them a multitude of favours, not least of all the gift of joy.