Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Garden of Life


If you are a gardener as I am, it is during the month of May when I start to plan my garden. I ask myself questions like, “What will I plant?” “How many seeds and seedlings do I need to purchase?” These are two important questions, because I know from experience that planning and planting are the first steps to a successful garden. More importantly, the question I have to ask myself is, “Can I commit to the work that a garden requires?” As I have learned over the years, it is important to spend at least an hour a day in my garden so that the weeds do not get ahead of me. If I relate a garden to my prayer life, I know that I need to spend an hour a day in prayer in private to nurture my faith. My faith, like my garden, needs love and encouragement to grow and bear fruit. I love to talk to the plants, and encourage the new sprouts to not give up. As I do this, I am reminding myself that I too need encouragement to grow in my faith. I receive encouragement from people who help me grow in faith by their words and example. As I plant seeds into the earth this spring, believing they will grow, I am connecting this act of planting to the first seeds of faith that were planted in me by my parents. By their words and examples I learned how to live a faith-filled life. I continued to learn more about my faith through family and friends, along with my commitment to daily private prayer. Another example in regard to gardening is that as I weed my garden this summer, I weed out the areas of my life which hold me back from living my Benedictine commitment. With this in mind, I will nourish the positive aspects of my life and God’s tremendous love for me. One way that I am able to nourish my life as a Benedictine is faithfulness to the Liturgy of Hours. If you would like to learn more about our community, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

S. Lisa Rose, Vocation Director

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yielding to Surprise


As I see brave spring shoots receiving just the right amount of light, warmth and moisture to break through the dry, cold soil, the word “tender” keeps surfacing for me.  Everything about spring seems to have a gentle hue.   My hibernating winter gaze begins to soften, as I allow an increasing number of subtle smiles to warm my face. I sometimes even catch my voice whispering to budding trees and perennial flowers, “You sweet surprise, you’re lovely. And then I giggle a bit and add, “I see you, you’re such a delight for my exploring eyes.  Thank you.”

The Latin root for tender is “tener” defined as “yielding, easily broken”.  I find myself looking across the oratory when we sing the Liturgy of the Hours.  We sing antiphonally, so one side sings and then the other.  I pray that as I am attentive to one familiar face at a time, my moistened spring-gaze will imagine a new aspect of her unique beauty that will reveal itself to me as the day unfolds.

 If my heart remains cold, dry soil I’m tempted to say, “I have her all figured out.  I know exactly what she will likely do or say.” I’ve actually given her the greatest insult I can give her.  “Tender moments” acknowledge that each day she is no longer exactly like she was the day, month or year before. She is changing and transforming. Hopefully my attentiveness will change my heart too. I pray that the warmth and light of the Spirit can use this present moment to tenderize my vision and let my stereotypes be more “easily broken”.  Allow me, my unconditionally loving God, to be surprised each day at discovering hues of beauty in the people that I think I have “all figured out”.

S. Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Day


Friday is Earth Day.  We need to ask forgiveness of our Mother Earth for our communal and individual abuse of her and therefore of all our brothers and sisters with whom we share this gift from God to all of us.  Let us pray as we image our holding and embracing Mother Earth just as she holds us. 

We Hold the Earth

“We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and droughts intensified by climate change.
We hold all species that suffer.
We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life.
We pray that the web of life may be mended though courageous actions to limit carbon emissions.
We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities…so that we may with integrity, look in to the eyes of brothers and sisters and all beings and truthfully say, we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children.
May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life.”

Brought to you by Interfaith Power and Light.

 

S. Renee Domeier

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Beginnings


April brings with it new beginnings. Buds appear on trees and flowers start to poke up through the earth. One new beginning for me was many Aprils ago, in 1981, when I was accepted as an affiliate at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. As an affiliate I was beginning the first step into becoming a member of the community. I had written a letter of request, and I received a letter in return welcoming me as an affiliate. When I read my letter there was a scripture passage from the prophet Isaiah inserted into the body of it. This is what the prophet Isaiah had to say to me on that memorable day.  
"Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people (Ch.65:17-19)
Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hearken to them. (vv.24)"

When I came across my letter of acceptance this past February, I recalled reading the letter for the first time, and this particular passage from Isaiah. I remember thinking, yes, I was being created anew and God was/is the creator. God was calling me into new life. God has continued to call me forth, challenging me to trust and follow. So what new beginnings may be happening for you in your life at this time? What may God be asking of you on our own unique journey during this month of new beginnings? On April 9th we will be hosting a retreat from 9-4 for women: Is God calling you to Religious Life? If you would like more information please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.


Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Good Friday Service, Brokenness and the Cross


I love to spend Triduum* with my community at the monastery. We have such wonderful, rich liturgies that call me into a space of deep reflection, sorrow, repentance, wonder and joy.

This year I did not make it up to the monastery for Triduum because of my resident chaplaincy work at Abbott Northwest Hospital. I had the opportunity to preside and gather with folks in the Mental Health Unit for a Good Friday service and time of reflection. As I prepared my reflection I found myself at a loss to know what to say to those who would be part of the gathering. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say or could not come up with material – it just seemed out of context with these folks.  How do you talk about the cross with patients who have mental health problems, who daily bear their cross because they are stigmatized, misunderstood in their suffering, marginalized in our society and often looked on with disdain?  Frankly I was at a loss how to communicate the suffering of the cross to these patients.  In desperation I looked on the internet for some reflection resources. I couldn’t find much information and what I did find often felt as if I was trying to put a square block in a round hole.  I was stuck, or at least felt stuck, about how to communicate the meaning of the cross to these folks who have a deep, anguishing faith because of their suffering. I found some words from Henri Nouwen on brokenness and the cross that I tried to reflect on and communicate the following:

 

Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched. Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced, and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your blood, what it means to be human.”

 

We broke bread together in the solidarity of our brokenness and suffering and Jesus’ love for us shown on the cross.  I want to fully acknowledge that I truly do not understand completely my brokenness as these folks understand their brokenness. Their brokenness and willingness to embrace the cross of Christ and claim it as Good Friday haunts my soul in mystery.  This Good Friday service impacted my sense of suffering and the meaning of the cross. I still don’t fully comprehend the cross, but I have experienced a whole new sense of the cross – and it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

 

*The Triduum (a Latin term meaning ‘three days in one’), stretches for the Mass of the Lord’s supper on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday.

 

Trish Dick, OSB

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Claiming Easter

Exultation of the Cross on Good Friday
Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB
I've been living at Saint Benedict's Monastery now for about nine years. I come from England, so answering God's call to this place meant leaving behind those near and dear to me and things that I was familiar with. I don't regret the choice, but I still have moments of intense homesickness when I feel it isn't possible not to live back at home, not to be with those people on a daily basis, for the rest of my life.


Christmas and Easter have always been particularly difficult times for me. They are, of course, rightly, the times when we are obliged to be with the monastic community. Well, what would a monastic community be, if they didn't celebrate the major events of the liturgical year together? So, no complaints about that. But that doesn't mean it's easy.


However, this Easter, I've noticed a change. Some of it's to do with the fact that if I went to England now, I couldn't fall back into Easter as it was when I left. People there have moved, died and churches have evolved. So this year, I couldn't keep thinking, "If I were in England, I would be doing this now, with this or that person." Well, I could think that some of the time, but not all of it.


The other thing is that this is the tenth Easter I've spent at the monastery and there's now a familiarity about the sequence of how we spend it. There are certain things that I love, like the sung Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and the three-part sung Gospel on Easter morning. Where changes have been introduced, I've been part of the process and, as that's happened, I think I've developed a sense of this becoming "my" Easter. It seems I'm reaching a point where I can look back over the Easters of my life and appreciate all of them for what they are. I've stopped comparing them and finding the present wanting in relation to the past. Instead, I'm grateful for Easters past, and I wouldn't change them for anything, but I'm also grateful for the Easter of the present and grateful to realize that, wherever, and however, and with whomever I celebrate Easter, it still carries the same message - the triumph of love over death.




Karen Rose, OSB



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"I can rise and shine, just not at the same time." FB quote, unknown


“Good Morning” one bright eyed sister chirped to me with a big smile as she met me on the way to prayer one morning. Still trying to wake up, I nodded my head in response…the most I could do at that time of the day. I don’t know what it is, but no matter how hard I try, I can never make it to bed before a very late hour. This would not be much of an issue except that our community prays at 7 a.m.! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love our Liturgy of the Hours, but 7 a.m. comes too quickly for me. During Lent I tried extra hard to get up early so that I could be at prayer at 6:45 a.m. instead of rushing in at 6:57 a.m. or later. This was quite a challenge for me, but on most mornings I did succeed. I do have to say it was a good feeling to be ready to chant or recite our psalms when the bell rang promptly at 7 a.m., than trying to figure out what song we were going to sing and what pages we would recite from. But mornings are still a challenge for me. It amazes me when many of our sisters say they get up at 4 or 5 a.m. I just can’t see it. But then again, most of them are gone to bed when I am getting my second wind at 9 or 10 in the evening. Most sisters laugh when I tell them I was working out at 9 p.m. or just starting a movie at 10 p.m.

And the funny thing is, have you ever noticed that if you wake up and it is 6 a.m. and you close your eyes for “5 minutes” it is 7:45 a.m., but if you are at a meeting, school or work and it’s 1:30, close your eyes for 5 minutes and it is 1:31? Well, that’s the way it goes for me anyway.

While mornings are a bane for me, I am always grateful for the day when I get up. I remind myself I am here to sing praise to God with my sisters and that is my incentive to get up each morning when I want to stay in bed. And until we move our morning prayer to 10 a.m., I will continue to find ways to make mornings a more joyful time for me.  Who knows, my next blog may be inspired by me waking up at 4 a.m. with the larks. Until then, I will keep tending to the owls. 

Submitted by S. Tammy Shoemaker