Thursday, January 29, 2015

No Longer Slaves

Many of us are aware that the FBI ranked Minnesota 13th in the nation for highest incidence of human sex trafficking. And many of us have read stories of the Oil Patch in our neighboring state of North Dakota. But perhaps few of us know this fact: there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history. How can this be possible? Because of the global scourge of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation and/or commercial gain. Global human slavery takes many forms, but always involves force, fraud and coercion.  Examples of global trafficking include sexual exploitation, forced labor in such areas as manufacturing, entertainment, mining and farming, domestic servitude in private homes, the illegal sale of human organs, child labor and forced marriages. Despite the fact that international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize human trafficking, it is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.  Pope Francis has called for an INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND AWARENESS against GLOBAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING.  The United States observes this day on February 8, 2015.  The Sisters of Saint Benedict will observe a day of awareness and prayer on February 7. Pope Francis pleads with us not to be indifferent to the plight of the 20 million adults and children who are bought and sold worldwide. Wherever you are, please join our monastic community in prayerful solidarity with the victims of human trafficking, and with all who work tirelessly to end this global scourge

Kathryn Casper, OSB

Note: The Sisters are observing the Day of Prayer on February 7 because we have our Open House scheduled for February 8. This is the date which Pope Francis suggested monasteries and religious houses all over the world should consider hosting an Open House.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Layers of Light

January 6, the calendar date for the feast of the Epiphany, was different for our family this year. It was the date on which our brother-in-law completed his earth-journey and moved into the fullness of light.

 I pondered the ways in which I came to know him better, and recognized a delightful pattern as the fullness of who he was emerged.  There was always the hallmark of unwavering loyalty and generous support for those he knew and loved. There was the ready, “Sure I can do that,” whenever a helping hand was needed. That’s why his involvement in the Knights of Columbus and support of Catholic education always was at the top of his activities list. He even created a cribbage culture by monthly teaching school children the game and bringing his cribbage-elders with him as mentors.

Layers of tenderness emerged with the birth of his son and the arrival of a granddaughter and grandson. He kept discovering new ways to delight and encourage them. And as his days of hospice went on, every person that came to see him was greeted with a gently spoken “thank you” even when he had no strength left to say another word.

The words of Rainer Marie Rilke’s poem  [Sonnets to Orpheus, Part two, XII] felt like it was written to describe the tender human he became.  “Everything shines as it disappears.” And now as my sister goes forward, gratefully remembering all this transformation and the end of his cancer pain, she likely can relate to the words with which the sonnet ends, “Every happiness is the child of a separation it did not think it could survive.”

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Welcome to the Monastery

Have you ever wondered what you might see at Saint Benedict’s Monastery if given the chance to go beyond the chapel doors? Those big doors leading out of the Sacred Heart Chapel that take us, the Sisters, into our inner sacred spaces.

Well, on Sunday, February 8, between 2-4 pm, you have the opportunity to visit us and take a tour of our sacred spaces.

Pope Francis has dedicated the year 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life. His hope is for people to learn about, and come to a better understanding of, what religious life is all about. This public "come and see" will do just that. Our open house at Saint Benedict’s Monastery will give you, our visitors, an opportunity to see and hear about our sacred spaces and to learn about our life. During the tour you will meet a variety of sisters. You will see our Chapel and walk our hallways. These spaces are central to our life because they are all connected. We pray and work in these spaces, they are the nuts and bolts that hold us together. These hallways take us to prayer, to work and to our dining room where we share meals together.

Come and experience the silence of our Oratory. What is an Oratory?            
Come and find out!
Living in a monastery may seem counter cultural in today’s world, yet religious life is alive for 239 of us who live and pray together every day.

Come and visit us on February 8.

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mushing, Miracles and Mystery

Every year I enjoy the opportunity of taking College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students dog sledding in Ely, Minn., with Paul Schurke at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. Today, I received an e-mail from a former musher participant asking me “if I was getting ready for the dog sledding retreat”?  She went on to tell me how much that retreat impacted her life. I can’t take credit for the effect of the retreat; my contribution is gathering students, organizing retreat details, and then getting out of the way to let God work. The significant impact of this retreat comes from being outside, immersed in the pristine beauty of the Boundary Waters and sledding with a team of trustworthy dogs who become a major part of the adventure.  Add to that the integrating effect of participation in the monastic rhythm of prayer, silence, reflection, discernment and building community.
A typical day begins early (7 a.m.) so as not to miss the beauty of the sunrise and the crisp morning air. What could be more welcoming than the dogs’ greeting, howling with joy to see the students? The morning chore of feeding the dogs and being the "pooper scoopers," grounds the students in the essentials of life and duty.  To get them out of bed in minus 35 degree weather is truly a miracle! Over a hearty breakfast that follows, they’re alive with stories of affectionate interaction with the dogs and with the beauty of early morning despite frozen eyelashes and bitter cold! I often sense this is a form of lectio (the Benedictine practice of prayerful reading) --truly a mystery and gift.

Trish Dick, OSB

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Keeping the Light of Christmas

The Christmas season doesn't end until January 11, with the baptism of Christ. It may be too late to express this plea but please keep your Christmas lights on! And your crèche prominent in your home! Why? Because we need more time to receive the mystery of Incarnational presence: “A CHILD is born to us ... and he shall be called GOD the mighty... the earth is eager, joy touches distant lands. GOD is wrapped in thunder cloud, throned on justice, throned on right ... Be joyous in the Lord God, you PEOPLE of FAITH, praise GOD’S holy name (Ps. 97).”

Mystery, indeed: Child on earth; God in Child, like unto us humans!  A paradoxical picture, indeed! The terrifying majesty of God brings joy to those who love the Lord ... in any palace, church, hamlet, home or heart: mystery to be pondered!

Or consider the promise of Isaiah 47: “I say to prisoners: ‘You are free, come out into the light.’ You will feast on your way, find food on barren heights. No one will hunger or thirst or suffer the scorching sun, for the Lord cares for you, guides you to cooling springs.” Mystery to be pondered; we need more time and love, Child/God!

Enkindle our faith, tiny weak Child of earth ...

Prepare a feast for us on barren heights, mighty God ...

We desire intimacy with You, incarnate and eternal One. We will shout for joy as you comfort a suffering people.

Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In My End Is My Beginning

Mary, Queen of Scots
"In my end is my beginning" - the motto of Mary, Queen Scots, Catholic Queen of Scotland who lost her throne and was beheaded by her cousin, Elizabeth I of England,  in the sixteenth century.  A lesson that it is not only in our own time that the enmeshments of politics can lead to events and acts of violence that maybe neither party would have desired.

Yet there is another lesson there that has something to say to us in our generation and especially at this season, as one year ends and another begins. Whether one sympathizes with Mary of Scotland or not, she was undoubtedly a human being who sinned and made mistakes, but who also held devoutly to her faith. Her motto is something to ponder.

During the Christmas season have you ever felt a sense of material excess that didn't seem to be what Christmas was about? Did someone else seem to take the way Christmas was celebrated out of your hands and arrange things in a way you wouldn't? How did you respond?

We all have our ideas about how things should be (and maybe our way is best!) but is there a deeper level at which we can handle these questions? Can we let go of our own preferences? Even when they are good ones? Can we open ourselves sufficiently to let the Holy Spirit help us see that these superficial things don't matter? That they matter so little that, well, it would nice to get rid of them, but they're so unimportant, it doesn't matter if we can't. Can we free ourselves so we don't spend our energy on these minor irritants, but let them go so that we are not distracted within ourselves and can focus on what really matters - Christ come into the world?

"In my end is my beginning." Let me put an end to  myself and my desires and preferences as being significant. Let me see that by doing so, I can begin a richer life in Christ.

As 2014 ends, Lord, help me to put an end to caring about small things and let me begin the New Year by opening fully myself to  the glorious and eternal mystery that is You.

Karen Rose, OSB

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stillness and Incarnation

Advent reminds us of Mary’s quiet waiting in a time of unknowing.  The wonder of pregnancy and birth rarely leaves us unmoved. Like all mothers, Mary likely went about doing her ordinary tasks with an ever growing awareness of the movements of the child within her. And during times of stillness, she must have been amazed at this child sent by God to be nurtured within her.

 Her early response to the Angel Gabriel’s message, however, quickly evolved into acknowledging solidarity with another pregnant woman, her cousin Elizabeth. Her bold choice to move beyond her own pregnant condition to create room in her life for someone in need, lets us know again what it means to respond to ever-present God-ness. In the stillness of her journey she moved forward, one step at a time.

In our daily darkness of unknowing, every response to hidden-Godness may allow small incarnations to again be manifest. Sometimes the invitations arise in situations and persons we may prefer to pass by. Can it be, that within a deep breath of stillness, one breath at a time, we can actually awaken to a wider range of incarnating-responses? It may be, that inviting ourselves to choose these brief moments, we may find ourselves in solidarity with Mary’s step by step waiting and incarnating. According to Bede Griffiths, stillness can be amazingly transformative for ourselves and all around us.

Stillness within one individual can affect society beyond measure.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB