Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Elders


I like to think of an older person as an Elder. For me, it speaks to the wisdom of the person and looks to the aging person with a sense of dignity.

 I used to feel like aging yielded a more or less down time and that was not a happy thought. Yes, we slow down as we age, and there are health and pain problems, but aging can also be a positive and productive time in one’s life.  Calling it a culmination in my life versus a time of decline is a first step. Culmination is an act of carrying something to full completion.

Elders need to share their wisdom. People gain more knowledge when they work through an experience. Wisdom results. A seasoned fisherman shares his wisdom when he guides his son to reel in his first large Northern.  When elders share their wisdom, they are making this world a better place.

Processing the past experiences of their lives can be another fruitful undertaking for elders. In our busy lives of dealing with the issues at hand, we most often do not have the time to process what happened. Processing may take the form of enjoying simple reminiscing or one may work through a need to forgive or to grieve a loss.

I learned recently, that at every age, there are latent talents in us, even in our retirement years. Elders may ponder on what those talents are and bring them to life by using them to serve others. Recently, I tried to think of what that might be for myself. The result is that I now enjoy writing these blogs.

Elders may also remember something they had always wanted to do and, if possible, pursue it.

Quiet time reflecting on how God has been guiding us all through our lives deepens our relationship with God. Despite pain and handicaps, a positive outlook on life helps us to   think less about our suffering.  

I sometimes think that these aging years remind us that we are not here to stay. When we accept our aging years and reflect on God’s great love for us, we can look forward to the day when we will be with the God who loves us so much! 

Janet Thielges, OSB

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Listening as Cross-Pollination


According to 1 Corinthians 12.—a gift is given to you not just for your own self, but to build up the community, to build up the society. As an individual, you don't have the full responsibility of putting it all together, as the false theology of perfectionism claims. All you have to do is discover your one gift and use it for the good of all. [ROHR, Daily Meditation, April 8, 2016]        

          So today, I’m pondering what my “unique gift” might look like at age 77.  If it’s true that the emptier the container, the more it can receive, I figure life may have offered me opportunities to release one or more self-packed spaces along the way.  Certain outmoded activities have morphed into activities that take up much more of my time these days. Things like, sitting longer at table and hearing stories that reveal a unique aspect of my friend, or even a stranger, can definitely expand my personal “vision” of them and/or the world within and around both of us.

          As a spiritual director, becoming a silent presence can allow the directee space for heart-felt expressions of truth without being edited by the director. Each of these encounters become “transpersonal spaces” in which both persons are able to be changed by sacred listening.  If only one is changed, then the other must not have been in a space in which true listening was possible.  True listening requires a stance of mutual openness so that the Wisdom of the Spirit can “cross-pollinate” both the listener and the speaker.  Each time I listen, tell a story or become attentive to any aspect of creation, God-ness shows itself as wisdom and grace.

Sister Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Pentecost


It’s PENTECOST. . .and there is nothing more dramatic than the Scriptures in describing what happened to the apostles and Mary as they gathered in the Upper Room, wondering what they could do and be, in the absence of Jesus.  He had ascended to his Father; however, Jesus had said He would not leave them orphans.  What did that mean? Let us put ourselves in that Room and listen to what the Acts of the Holy Spirit were on that first Pentecost:

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Without warning, there was a sound like a strong wind—gale force—no one could tell where it came from.  It filled the whole building.  Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks.  And they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. [Acts 2]

 Would that experience not put the ‘fear of the Lord’ into the heart of the holiest of persons? Scripture says “they were cut to the quick and those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles: ‘Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?’”

Peter knew what they/we had to do, so he gave us a homily:

Change your lives. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you. . . Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.

And how did their lives change? How might we best receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.  People in general liked what they saw.  Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

Even the words, the imagery, the sounds, the responses  and the movements expressed in Acts 2 fill my heart with desire for a new Pentecost in my life!  We know there are a zillion reasons why we need the Holy Spirit to continue coming into our lives and world. Let us take a moment—even NOW—to think of but THREE such reasons . . .and then let us pray together:

          Come, Spirit of God,

          Come, Spirit of love,

Spirit of peace, of faith, of strength, of holy joy.

Come, secret joy, into the tears of our world.

Come, vict’ry-rich life into the death of the earth.

Come, Father of the poor and support of the oppressed.

Come, Love, who is poured out into our hearts.

          We have nothing that can force you;

          Yet on that very account we are confident.

          Our hearts stand in mysterious awe at your coming,

                   because you are selfless and gentle,

                   because you are something else than our hearts.

          Yet this is for us the firmest promise . . . that you are truly coming.

          Come, therefore, come to us every day, again and again.

          We put our trust in you.

          Whom else could we trust?

          We love you because you are love itself.  AMEN and AMEN.    [Karl Rahner]

 

 

 

Renee Domeier, OSB

Friday, May 6, 2016

Studium, A Scholar's Program


If you’re not a writer or haven’t spent time at the College of Saint Benedict in recent years, you might not know about Studium--nor Saint Benedict’s Monastery--which gave rise to both the College and Studium. I didn’t. But then I was living in Asia where for nine years I was working on the novel Perfume River Nights.

In December 2011, I hoped to visit my daughters in Central Minnesota and was looking for a place to live and write. A friend told me about Studium.

Studium, I learned, is a special program at the Saint Benedict’s Monastery for writers and artists. It provides office space for day and resident scholars. Originally established in 1992 as a creative setting for sisters after retirement to do research or write, it was expanded the next year to outside academics. Studium is noted for scholarship, spirituality and hospitality. Scholars have produced books, music, art and essays that are widely celebrated.

My book of poetry, A Journey Through A Warrior’s Soul, and an interview with Studium Director, Sister Ann Marie Biermaier, won me the approval of the Studium committee. I arrived at Studium directly from Thailand nervous and uncertain, but the warm welcome from Studium Assistant Director, Sister Theresa Schumacher, made me feel as if I’d come home.

I planned to stay six weeks. I ended up staying six months and then resettling in the St Cloud area. The warmth and hospitality of the Benedictine community played a part in my staying. My time at Studium became a time of reflection and change. Gains and losses. Transitions made easier by the supportive Studium community.

At Studium, I took my novel Perfume River Nights through the next phase. Sister Ann Marie and Sister Stefanie Weisgram became some of my first readers. At a monthly Studium meeting, I made a presentation on a soldier’s journey through war using my experiences as an infantryman in Vietnam in 1968—a soul-baring talk made possible by the supportive setting of Studium. At coffees, dinners and spring barbeques I heard stories of families and creative endeavors. Scholars cheered each other’s efforts and accomplishments. I made lifelong friends at Stadium. No matter where I live, I will always feel a part of the Saint Benedict’s community.

For me, Studium was more than a place to write. It was a place of transitions and connections.

Michael P. Maurer, Author of Perfume River Nights

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