Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thanks Dad




(The Rose Family, photo by Lisa Rose, OSB)
I am sitting in the living room as my dad lies in the hospital bed. The house is empty right now except for the two of us. Being alone it is easier to tell him that I love him and thank him for being my dad. I thank him especially for teaching me how to pray. I believe that my religious vocation was first nurtured in the home by the example of my parents through their faithfulness to prayer and going to church. I am remembering the day I told my parents that I wanted to join Saint Benedict’s monastery, they supported me in my vocation from that day forward. I recall one Sunday evening when I was returning to  Saint Benedict’s when dad said to me: “If you ever want to come home the door is always open.” I was touched by that comment because he always wanted the best for his children. In wanting the best for us he always made sure we got to church on Sunday. I remember once when we were not home for a weekend, the most important thing my parents did was find a church so we could go together as a family. My parents always liked to sit up front so we would walk up to the first pew as a family and stay until the last word of the final hymn was sung. Often the pews behind us were empty when we left the church. I took the time to thank dad that day when we were alone, for teaching me about Jesus. At this time as I vigil with my dad, he is slowly leaving the world we know, as he moves on to his final journey to meet Jesus, the Jesus he loves so much. As I say good-bye to dad I am grateful for my own vocation. If you would like more information about our monastery please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB

Thursday, December 1, 2016

An Advent Reflection

Pat Pickett, OblSB
Pat Pickett, OblSB, is an oblate of Saint Benedict’s Monastery and shares a reflection about Advent. Oblates of Saint Benedict are Christian individuals who associate with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their way of life. They live according to the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by Saint BenedictTo learn more about Oblates and the process of becoming an Oblate, visit www.sbm.osb.org/oblates/

In the still, quiet, gray of midnight morning, everything was calm. Light snow began to decorate the evergreen branches outside the kitchen window. My reflection abruptly ended as I was startled by the twinge I felt across my back. The calm and quiet rushed to a crescendo of personified knowing. As I stood, the twinge radiated to the front of my body. It was time. Waiting was over. Driving to the hospital over freshly snow-covered streets, the contractions were close now.
In a little over an hour, I was holding my son. He showed no signs of his recent journey and my mind began to drift as our heartbeats melted into one drumming sound, tu-tum, pu-pum tu-tum, pu-pum tu-tum, pu-pum. Nine months of waiting, five months since that first whisper of movement telling me that a new life was growing inside me, my son was now nuzzled against my breast.

What a gift to have been pregnant during Advent! Those days brought me closer to Mary, closer to the mystery of God’s love being clothed with the body of a baby. Each day became a reflection on the Incarnation. For me, it was a realization of how God waits with each of us to say, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” Christ is born into the messiness of our lives when we are open to the profound reality that God is always there giving us a chance to receive this new mysterious, re-created eternal life.
Watching my baby become a little boy and now an adult, I am brought back yearly to that tender birthing Advent, realizing that Christ is always coming to each of us, waiting for us to become more familiar and accepting of the story, realizing that our whole life is a birthing time. Partnering with Christ, we learn to say, “Yes!” with more abandonment each Advent cycle. We begin to see, to believe that God really is at work transforming us, creating new life, forming our lives into the “kin”dom of eternal love.

My yearly journey into Advent is to have faith that God waits with me and with all of us. God takes me where I am and works with me, with us. God’s new life is always about to happen tu-tum, pu-pum tu-tum, pu-pum tu-tum, pu-pum, God longs for that day our hearts will synchronize as we are held in God’s loving embrace.

Pat Pickett, OblSB

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grumpy Nun



Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB, of how the monastery campus should look, but doesn't
I don’t come from Minnesota. I come from England. We have snow in England but it’s wet, heavy snow which comes and goes in the space of a few days or, at most, weeks. It’s certainly not up to the high standard of a Minnesota snowfall. I love dry Minnesota snow. It seemed like a real miracle the first time I got snow in my boots here. Scenes of jubilation – there was time to tip it out of the boots before my socks got wet!

I should come clean, I am a snow addict. If there was snow all year, I’d be happy. And when I first came to Minnesota I really thought I’d found an almost perfect winter climate. This is how it was. Every morning I would wake up to a beautiful dawn, the sun would climb up into the sky and there’d be that perfect contrast between blue sky and pure-white, diamond-dotted snow. The highs were always in the mid-20s, so every afternoon, I’d put on my down coat and my boots and go out for a lovely invigorating walk in the woods. About once a week, there’d come a snowfall so that everything remained looking pristine and pure, no dirty slush ever offended the eye.

I’m now experiencing my 12th Minnesota winter and nothing has ever quite matched up to that first one. Sadly, I’ve come to accept that it can’t be like that every year. But I still do get very excited when the first snowfall happens. It was a good one this year, but I did have the nagging feeling that because it was wet snow, it might behave like English snow and disappear.

It did and I am now grumpy because of it. Warm temperatures and rain have conspired to remove all but a few traces of the glorious white stuff. Left behind is a rather depressing colorless remnant of fall. I feel colder than I do when it snows because, although the absolute temperature is quite high, above freezing, it’s a damp cold that’s left behind which seeps into the fiber of my being.

It had better snow properly (as I would term it) soon, and stay snowy, or I am going to be one grumpy nun for the foreseeable future!

Karen Rose, OSB

Monday, November 28, 2016


Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally.

 

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I miss seeing all of your smiling faces. I pray that your Thanksgiving was full of love, laughter and great food because I know mine surely was. Thanksgiving morning the sisters and I are sat in the community room and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. People were laughing, knitting, napping and patiently waiting for the food to be served. Our community room was filled with many guests. Christina Désert, who volunteered two years ago, came all the way from Cambridge, Mass., to spend Thanksgiving with the sisters. They were so excited to see her. After all, she was their very first volunteer. Sister Nancy Bauer also came to visit! She brought her friend Corrin and they seemed to enjoy themselves. On more than one occasion, S. Nancy asked to take my picture. For a brief second, I thought I was famous. However, I was quickly brought back to earth when I was told I would be helping with ALL the Thanksgiving dishes. Let me tell you, washing Thanksgiving dishes was quite the feat.


Even though I longed for mom’s baked mac and cheese and my granny’s sweet potatoes, I was truly blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving with individuals who I have grown to care for. It was nice being in an environment where there was a representation of what unity looks like. This post-election season has definitely uncovered the large rift that is unfortunately still present in America. What I loved about this past Thanksgiving was that, for one day, it did not matter what political party one represented or background she/he came from. What mattered most were our many blessings.


 
 
Shifting gears, I would like to talk about how the month of November has been full of many changes for me. I started my new job at BEACON. I’m really excited because starting December 6, I will be teaching a lower level intermediate English class. As I helped future students register for classes, I tapped into my nearly non-existent Spanish speaking skills. I haven’t spoken Spanish since my senior year of high school. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I made a few people laugh with my terrible Spanish. Although I have tough skin, I can see why learning English can be very intimidating and discouraging. I’ve heard some Americans say, “You can’t live in the U.S if you don’t know how to speak English.” Or I’ve heard, “I wish those people would just go back to where they came from.” Knowing that there are still people like this in the world pushes me to make sure my students know that I am an ally who supports their efforts in learning another language to achieve a better life. It is important to understand that many immigrants who come to the U.S seek out a better life. I feel it is my duty to ensure that these individuals reach their goals. The world already has enough cynics. What we lack is understanding and compassion. The Beatles had it right when they said: “There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be!”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Year of Mercy has ended, but not our call to be merciful.


The Year of Mercy formally began on December 8, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. It ended with a simple but profound celebration for our community this past Sunday with the celebration of Christ the King. As quoted by our Holy Father, "Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ."  As Christians we are ALL called by our baptismal call to live a life of faith and love.  As sisters, in our daily living we seek and find God through our threefold promise of stability, conversatio (continued fidelity to monastic life) and obedience. 

That the year has ended, we are called ever more profoundly to live a life of mercy through compassion and forgiveness to other people. With the recent elections we need to find a way to love and accept one another with dignity and respect despite our differences.

For me personally, I have focused on the word compassion.  I try hard not to judge the actions of others because I don’t want to be judged.  Every day I am more and more aware of God’s deep and unconditional love and mercy for me. I am God’s beloved. How can I not show that same compassion and mercy to others?  It is not always easy, we are human, we fail and yet we keep trying.  But I feel I am in an atmosphere conducive to continuous conversion of my short-comings. 

With the holidays upon us, let us set aside our differences and rejoice in each other. Let us be thankful for the many blessings we have received and strive to love one another with the heart of the God who loves us so much. Be the first to ask forgiveness from another and the first to show kindness.

 

Tammy Lynn Shoemaker, OSB

 

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

For the Beauty of the Earth


It is hard to comprehend that next week is Thanksgiving already. It has been almost three months in Erie, and life is a never ending flow of beautiful surprises:


 
One was a trip to Niagara Falls. The size of Niagara alone is impressive and the tons of water flowing continuously over the sides is awe inspiring. As I stood along the edge, listening to the roar of the water and the gusts of wind through the trees, I heard something else as well. During our time at the falls, I counted at least four languages other than English. There were people from all parts of the world stopping at this wonder of nature and appreciating the beauty. The beauty of the falls speaks to everyone, no matter the language or culture.










The beauty of music has been a constant in my life, but at the Art House I got to experience the feeling of being in awe of music through the eyes of a 12-year-old. A few weeks ago, I was given an assignment by one of my students to listen to the soundtrack to a certain videogame. I did my homework and brought back the melody of the score for her to play. We sight-read the music together. Suddenly, she recognized the melody. Her eyes lit up and she grinned. She looked over at me and said, “Thank you.” She looked back at the music, still smiling and asked, “Can we play it again?” It was privilege to be a witness to her first taste of the beauty of playing piano.

Beauty at Saint Benedict’s Education Center is seen in the meeting of races, languages and cultures of the refugees. However, one vocabulary lesson was particularly challenging. The teacher was explaining that a family is typically a parent or parents and children. One of our Syrian refugees took out his phone in an attempt to translate. Once he understood, he began to type quickly. Google translate spoke, “I understand, but all Syrians are all one family.” This was a much needed reminder that we all belong to one another.

I’m currently reading the book, Becoming Wise by Krista Tippet, a broadcaster for National Public Radio. In it she includes interviews with people from all different faith traditions, commenting on what it means to be human. One man, Xavier Le Pichon, commented profoundly on love:

“ … once you enter into this way of … walking with the suffering person who has come into your life and whom you have not rejected, your heart progressively gets educated by them. They teach you a new way of being … . My heart cannot be educated by myself ... . And if we accept being educated by others, to let them explain to us what happens to them, and to let yourself be immersed in their world so that they can get into our world, then you begin to share something very deep. You will never be the person in front of you, but you will have created what we call communion.”

My heart has been continually educated over the past three months. It has been stretched, widened, broken and embraced by people from all around the world. To walk with the refugee, to listen to the child or to live with a sister takes a continual opening of each other’s hearts to one another’s suffering and beauty. This widening makes my heart tender and vulnerable and it is difficult to remind myself that what I do is worthwhile despite the pain of carrying someone’s sufferings with me. I have to believe that even though our hearts are being torn, the love and beauty we find together is worth it. I have to believe that making someone feel needed, accepted and loved is worthy of our hearts. I have to believe that beauty will keep calling us back to communion, whether it is in nature, music or the wonder of our human family.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that my heart has been entrusted to these people for a short while.

Peace and prayers,

Erin Carey, BWSC Volunteer

 

 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Our Father Revisited





Photo by Janelle Sietsema, OSB

This November night when the full moon is luminous, the squash are waiting to be baked and the cucumbers are safely shelved in pickle brine, it’s hard to keep the heart from raising a grateful shout of delight. Gratefulness often seems to bring the words of the Our Father to my lips. But as I’m typing this blog a 2016-version of this familiar prayer keeps rising in me. Tonight, these grateful words form yet another expression of our precious Our Father.

Our Ever-creating Father and Mother,

calling on your holy name connects heaven and earth.

In you all of creation becomes a kin-dom.

Resting in you, we know and do your will.

Then earth and heaven are one.


Give us today the nurturing bread of your presence.

Salve our wounds with your forgiveness.

Open our hearts to be salve for other’s wounds.


Alert us to the destructive temptation of judging others.

Gently draw us into your unconditional-love.

Invite us to rest within it,

until all evil loses its power.


As you continue to birth kin-dom energy,

 all creation is empowered and set free.


Then in the now and forever

your glory and praise will be sung.

Amen.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB