Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Let the "Birds' Fly



(Photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB)
As one season ends and the time approaches for looking at the oncoming season with an eager heart, I find myself looking into my clothes closet.  Gratefully it’s become a “game I play” as I look at various items hanging there looking at me while I’m looking at them. It’s become a light-hearted ritual for me to talk to each item and ask, “Are you still for me or are you hankering for a swap-shop-home?  Have I worn you very often this season?” If my answer is, only very few times, I have a variety of comments I might make to the item.  An example might be, “You are so lovely. I’m shocked that I only wore you a few times.  You pretty thing, you definitely deserve to be worn much oftener during this season next year. Someone, who would wear you much oftener, should delight in wearing you next year at this time.  Then I can lightheartedly fold it up for the swap-shop-box.

 

Today I read this quote from St. John of the Cross it made me think of the advantage this game gives me for letting go of things I no longer need.

 

The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken, the bird cannot fly.

 

I continue to pray for eyes and a heart that can enjoy letting more “birds fly.”

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Like a child


"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

When I look at this picture that a friend of mine sent me of her great-niece, all I can do is smile. Here is a young child absolutely at peace and filled with joy over the simplicity of water coming out of a fountain. She is a picture of innocence and clearly she has no care at all in the world as to what is going on around her, she is not worried about how she looks in her bathing suit, who is looking at her, where she has to be or what time it is for that matter. She is just so completely in love with that very moment. Children are so open and free and interested in all that comes their way. They desire to learn and be without hesitation, fear or discrimination. They love everyone and everything without a second thought. And they quickly forgive us when we lose our temper. What a great example for all of us. God calls us all to “become like little children” and to bear patiently with our neighbor.

Unfortunately as we get older we start to question our faith which causes us doubt. Doubt can lead to fear and fear to anger. Anger causes hatred and can lead to violence. We have concerns about money, health and family issues.  All of this can slow us down and lead us away from our relationship with God. Children come to their parents trusting them to completely take care of them, protect them and provide for them. Parents correct when they are wrong and still love and cherish them. God wants that for us too because we are God’s children.

One of the first things our parents teach us is how to say thank you! Let us be grateful each day for the many gifts we have received.

For today, let go of all your worries. Live with child like wonder and excitement, love and joy, without fear or hesitation and always willing to forgive. Love the moment you are in and be grateful.

 

Tammy Shoemaker, OSB

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Overcoming Obstacles


Pope Francis can’t be beat!  Recently, he traveled to Krakow, Poland, to participate in the World Youth Gathering, with upwards of one million people.  It was a Sunday when he addressed the gathering and the Gospel was that of Zaccheus (Lk 19: 1-10).  We remember, of course, this Roman tax collector of ill repute who exploited the people; he is a persona non grata in our minds. He was short of stature, full of unprofessed shame and yet he wanted to see Jesus and so climbed a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus as he  passed by. But to his utter amazement, Jesus saw Zaccheus, called him down from his lofty heights and asked if he could come to his home.

That can happen to you, too, Pope Francis said to the youth. It can happen all of a sudden, in a moment, or gradually, when two hearts somehow meet one another.

But Zaccheus had to overcome some obstacles in meeting Jesus, just as any of us—young or older—need to assess and overcome our own personal obstacles.  There are three such obstacles which Pope Francis addressed with reference to Zaccheus and to most of us.  First, smallness of stature.  How many of us don’t feel worthy to approach Jesus or do not realize how much Jesus loves and counts on us for who we are i.e. precious and beloved children of God.  That is our real stature.  He waits for us to come to Him as we  are!

 The second obstacle to overcome in our meeting Jesus is the paralysis of shame. Zaccheus was a public figure, a man of power.  He knew that in climbing a tree he’d become the laughingstock to all. Yet as Pope Francis said, “Zaccheus mastered his shame because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful.” The Holy Father‘s advice to the youth was: “Don’t be afraid to say YES to Jesus with all your hearts. . . and say a firm NO to the narcotic of success at any cost and to the sedative of worrying only  about yourself and your own comfort.”

The third obstacle that Zaccheus had to overcome in his coming to Jesus was the grumbling of the crowd, the criticism and judgment of the crowd wondering why Jesus wanted to dine in Zaccheus’ house.  To the youth, Pope Francis said “People may judge you to be a dreamer because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between people, one that refuses to see borders as barriers. Don’t be discouraged. With a smile and open arms, proclaim hope, be a blessing for our one human family which here you represent so beautifully!”

Jesus wants to stay at our homes too, dwell in our daily lives of studies, friendships, hopes and dreams. “Take all of these to Him in prayer.  Don’t forget the encounter you have had with God here these days.  He wanted you to be here and has come to meet you.  Now walk with Him, talk with Him.” And Jesus would surely say: “Be My beloved son and daughter—whether young or older, rich or poor, popular or living in the shadows, Catholic or of another religion. I am calling YOU.  We can be great friends and do great things together!”

Thank you, our dearly beloved Pope Francis!  You can’t be beat!
Renee Domier, OSB

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Sonlight"

The presider’s chair was bathed in sunlight as I walked through the Sacred Heart chapel on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I was so struck by its beauty that it stopped me in my tracks. I then walked around the chair, continuing to be captured by its beauty in the afternoon sun. At one point I looked up, trying to find the window that was letting in the beam of sun and bringing this chair to life. As I snapped a few pictures of the presider’s chair, now bathed in sunlight, I pondered the significance of this chair at our Eucharist celebrations. The sunlight became Sonlight for me at that moment. The light of God is what I was observing. My eyes were drawn to the altar, as if Christ’s eyes, sitting in the chair, were also drawn to the altar. With my eyes being drawn to the altar, I was reminded of all the Eucharist celebrations that take place in this sacred space. For it is here where I witness the bread and wine being transformed into the body and blood of Christ. It is here where I receive spiritual nourishment. The sunlight/Sonlight is forever transforming me in my commitment in this Benedictine community of women, as together we seek God in our daily lives. If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Care For Our Common Home


In the garden
sisters like multi-colored butterflies
roam from row to row
good gardeners
weeding, snipping, harvesting
the fruits of the earth
         
In the bakery
artisans prepare mysterious yeast
knead the dough
keep silence at the rising
reverence the baking
glory in the aroma
rejoice in the breaking and eating
         
In the Oratory
one by one they
walk, limp, dance, trudge
into familiar places,
as faithful as the sun and moon
chant words of tenderness and heartbreak
old and new dreams

In the Chapel
sisters greet guests
men, women, children
young and old echo 152 years
of yearning for God in song and silence,
lay their prayers upon the altar,
leave with this message,
Be at peace!
         
Kathryn Casper, OSB

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Do You Dream?


Sometime ago, I had a dream in which I was one of a huge multitude of people.  All of us had just been in a serious accident . . .but the surprising thing was that no one was afraid; rather, we were all smiling, talking animatedly, and helping one another . . .whether cleaning another’s wounds, giving water or meds to another or walking together along a very long path.  No one seemed to need rest . . . but rather instinctively knew that, as we walked or limped, we were to leave no one behind!  Apparently , all of us knew where we were going, i.e., to our Father’s House where we would surely see friends, members of our families, even those who made us suffer while on earth . . . Then I awakened!

Upon thinking of my dream, I realized it was expressing, for me, some thoughts on planting, watering and harvesting (of all unusual themes!)  Quite literally, WE are the “crop”, the fruit of another’s labors in the family, the church, our society!  I thought of the JOY on the faces of all in my dream; no one was sad!  Were they so joyful because they were helping another?  Welcoming another on the road?  Allowing another to serve? Making sure no one would be left behind? Even more surprising to me was that everyone walked, fully confident that they were going HOME to the welcoming embrace of their Father and other family members.

I know that this dream expresses what I deeply desire—that we stand in awe of a God who depends upon us to bind up one another’s wounds or remind another of our undeserved privilege in being part of God’s family.  It also expresses some of what I feel led to do: be a bridge of understanding and forgiveness, especially among the marginalized members of our society! How many more years will be given me?  I don’t know.  My friend, Fr. Rick Thomas gives an answer: “God speaks through circumstances.  When God makes something possible, God wants you to do it; and when God makes it impossible, God wants you to quit.”

Have we reflected sufficiently on the circumstances of this day? What will I/you do so as to leave no one behind?  With the Psalmist we can be sure that “goodness and kindness will follow us all the days of our lives. . .”

 

Renee Domeier, O.S.B

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Show Me Change


Relationships, experiences, and mirroring change you much more than ideas. You cannot really do something until you have seen someone else do it. You do not know what patience is until you have met one truly patient person. You do not know what love is until you have observed how a loving person loves. We hold great power for one another--for good and for ill.  (Richard Rohr, “Daily Meditation”, May 24, 2016).

 True elders and spiritual teachers mirror their values and wisdom.  On their life journey they have witnessed and experienced transformational values. Having invited incarnational relationships to transform their own hearts and visons, they become ready to articulate and mirror their journey-into-change to those around them. 

We are much like a coin with two sides.  On the one side of the coin, life experiences reveal to us the limitations of our own wisdom, power and tiny self.  And on the other side, prayer moves us into recognizing that there is nothing that can separate us from a God who will always love us unconditionally, no matter how we look from the outside, and will always blow on the embers of our gifts so that we can become a light to others.  Light begets light.  Becoming change begets change.


Sister Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck