Happy New Year and Blessed Feast of the Theotokos to you all!
Christmas is always such a beautiful season, but this year it had such a pall of sadness, given what we've all experienced over the last several months, and in our "loss" of Sr. Perpetua. But even in our sadness, we found the joy that is the Christ Child, for, as Mother Frangelico pointed out, we are invited not just to be joyful, but to know the suffering of the Holy Family. We now know exile, and Sr. Perpetua knows real hardship.
I have news on that front, but just wait...I'm saving that for last!
Anyway, the Monastery is decorated for Christmas, and some very kind benefactors gave us a tree from their own property, and their family came to help us decorate. As we had no ornaments, the children helped us to make new ones, and our local parish gave us all sorts of things and invited us into their own homes to celebrate Christmas. We did honor the invitations, but our main celebration has, in the monastic style, gone on here at the Monastery. There will be more on that, but I can't wait any longer to give you the news!
Mother Frangelico received a phone call from the Bishop! In working with the US Consulate and the Bishop and a Priest, they have managed to get Sr. Perpetua released from prison!
But here's the strange part...she didn't want to go!
But the prison officials were not amused and just as they forced her into the prison (well, she'd gone humbly), they had to "force" her out. They took her immediately to the Bishop's own residence, where there are some Sisters who live in one of the wings (to run his household and serve at the Cathedral). They took her in and His Excellency took some time with our dear Sister, very concerned for her welfare, and very apologetic of course that she'd been treated so badly by his own countrymen. The people throughout Latin America are very hospitable and were absolutely horrified at what happened to her...and all the people who are imprisoned so unjustly, as so often happens there. It is an event of incredible joy when a prisoner is released.
Well, as it was, he was shocked by Sr. Perpetua's behavior, not wanting to leave the terrible conditions in the prison, and he thought maybe it was an Athanasius...no? Um...OK, Sr. Maxine tells me it's the Anastasia Syndrome, where the prisoner begins to identify with her captors. Well, apparently that wasn't it.
Sr. Perpetua saw an opportunity for service in the prison, and that's how she carried out her sentence! She wants to stay down there!
It seems that they are going to send her back for now, but the Bishop is very impressed with her, and communicated some things to our local Bishop, who in turn told Mother Frangelico. We aren't aware of what they discussed, only that Sister is coming back, but may not be with us for long.
They want her to recover and spend some time in discernment, and apparently Mother is to stay in contact with the Bishop. Something huge is happening, and hopefully we'll get Sister Perpetua's own story when she comes back.
It'll be a few days, and so we have time for the welcome she deserves on the Epiphany.
Could it be that Sister Perpetua isn't a perpetual discerner like the rest of us!
What cause for Joy!