Monday, September 11, 2017

Black Folk Religion: God as a Liberating God


I keep recognizing how much other cultures have to teach me.  A recent confirmation of that happened when I listened to an interview by Krista Tippet with Ruby Sales, civil rights veteran and public theologian. [“on Being”, August 17, 2017].  It helped me again acknowledge how many persons of color continually put their lives on the line to move social justice into the foreground of our awareness.  Ruby, who grew up on black folk religion, described her concept of black folk religion this way.


(Photo submitted by Martha Maloney)
“When I talk about Black Folk Religion I’m talking about a religion that came out of ordinary people during enslavement in the fields of America. We saw ourselves as a Beloved Community. It meant that we wanted to have justice because we loved everybody in our hearts.  Our songs were about God as a liberating God.” Ruby came to recognize and embody what God-justice, God-talk, God-love, and God-right-relations looked and felt like as the words rang in her ears.

 

Is it possible that the lyrics of these traditional black folk songs might help save America from itself by giving us a Beloved-Community-vocabulary in our time?

 

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What does a Forever Commitment Mean?


Have you ever wondered how a commitment will stick for some people and not for others? Well here is a simple story about a lifelong commitment. When my two nieces were married last year, I was able to witness the marriage commitment of all the married couples who attended the reception. During the reception, the Disc Jockey began what he called, “The anniversary dance." After he invited all the married couples to the dance floor, the music started. When he called out a number that matched the number years they had been married they had to leave the dance floor. Of course, the first couple to walk away was the newly married. It was fun to watch and celebrate with each couple as they walked away. The count began with one year, three years, five years, seven years, ten years and fifteen years. Slowly he got up to fifty years, fifty-five years, and at this point, the only two couples on the dance floor were the grandparents of the newly married couple. At sixty years, only one couple was dancing, my parents. The count continued, sixty-one, sixty-two, he finally asked, “How long have you been married?” Everyone in my family called out “Sixty-four years.” At which the DJ responded, “I have never had a couple on the dance floor that long.”



(Tamra Thomas, OSB, Perpetual Profession, July 11, 2017
Photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB)
So what does forever mean to you? At Saint Benedict’s Monastery, we make our forever commitment on our profession day. If you would like more information about our monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.











Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

When Was It You?



Mary Reuter, OSB is currently the Novice Director for our community.
In a documentary about the monkeys of Shangri-la in the Himalayas,1 I watched one youngster that was rejected by the other monkeys, including his mother. He was left to learn by himself how to manage his life, stay connected with the “troop” (band of monkeys), and forage for food. He became under-nourished and socially isolated. 

One day he struggled to climb a tree limb; he was too weak to make progress. He was becoming discouraged, desperate. Suddenly a strong furry arm of his stepfather reached down to pull him up. I imagine him being brought into a strong embrace, smothered in the fur of his elder’s  protection.

When, in the midst of a day has someone made a comment of acknowledgement to you and you felt a boost forward? When have you been struggling in making a decision and an unexpected breakthrough made a freeing shift in your perspective and insight? You realized once again that there is a power beyond you and you can count on it for good. And this power is God. When have you needed help with a task and someone volunteered her services? You were pulled from feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed to relief and accomplishment. “I will praise you, God, and give you thanks” (adapted Ps. 30:1,4).

When have you extended a hand or arm to pull someone a little farther on one of their limbs of life? When might you have been an instrument of God who says, “I pulled you out of the pit” (Ps. 30)—the pit of whatever is burdensome, fearful, painful, unfree . . . .  And you respond: “I will praise you . . . , my God. I will give thanks to your forever” (adapted Ps. 30:12).


Mary Reuter, OSB

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Here We Stand

Here We Stand: Reforming Anew
Catholics and Lutherans in Dialogue
Saturday, September 9
8:30 a.m-1 p.m.




To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, Catholics, Lutherans and other interested people will gather in the Gorecki Center at the College of Saint
Benedict to address the challenges this day’s title suggests. The words “Here I stand” are often
Dr. Kathryn Johnson
attributed to Martin Luther, as he strongly affirmed his belief in the saving power of God’s mercy. For us today, “here we stand” can both affirm Catholic and Lutheran traditions, beliefs and practices, and pose a series of questions: Where do Catholics and Lutherans now stand in relation to each other? Can we stand in unity in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Can we work together for justice, nonviolence, mercy and hospitality, in a world hungry for these Gospel values? In other words, to what new reformation do our churches and our world call us?

Abbot John Klassen
We’ll address some of these questions guided by Dr. Kathryn Johnson, director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her keynote address, “What Difference Does This Anniversary Make?” and the response of Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., will bring to light the gifts of the Spirit to both religious traditions, throughout their history and at this moment—gifts we can offer to each other and to the world through concrete, united action.

Bishop Donald Kettler
Bishop Jon Anderson
Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud and Bishop Jon Anderson of the Southwest Minnesota Synod of the ELCA will open and close the day
with prayer. There will be time throughout the day for conversation and questions for the speakers. We’ll continue our dialogue at lunch as we break bread together. The day will end with prayer, ritual and song.

You may register online, but hurry because registration for this event is limited.
Questions? Contact Sister Eunice Antony at (320) 363 8927 or eantony@csbsju.edu

Co-sponsored by Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Collegeville Institute, Diocese of St. Cloud, Saint John’s Abbey, Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in cooperation with Southwestern MN Synod of the ELCA.

[Related events this weekend are being held Friday, September 8, at St. Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis and Sunday, September 10, at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville. For more information, contact Carla Durand at cdurand@csbsju.edu]

Mara Faulkner, OSB

Monday, August 21, 2017

Gorgeousness Revealed


As I move through different circles of interacting with others, an observer’s first impression of me may hinge on what I look like.  However, my body is not me. It is the house in which I live. If you say that I am so many inches tall, or that I weigh such and such number of pounds, I will reply, “You are not describing me. You are talking about my address.” [Plotinus]


(Photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB)
When we share stories with one another we begin to notice who we each are at a deeper level and may actually discover certain layers of inner beauty.  In the transformative and life-expressing exchange of storytelling, the listening presence of an attentive “other” helps me see more fully who they are and who I am.  It helps me discover again the truth of this African proverb “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” (A person is a person because of other people.)


Once we risk taking off a layer of our skin by telling honest stories to one another, who knows, we might find that more of us can walk around in our uncovered gorgeousness.


Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Happiness Attacks"


Recently I was with a homeless woman who suffers intermittent “panic attacks”.  Her entire body shakes from the pain.  She sits down for a few seconds, and then, has to rise for a brief moment or walk around to ease the terrible pain especially in her legs. While she was with me, all I could do. . .or knew how to do . . .was to hold her and assure her that how she was responding was perfectly O.K.  It must be terrible to live in her skin, so constantly expectant of another “panic attack” though she was not always able to predict just when it would come!

Today I read of another woman who had what she called “happiness attacks."  These started for her when she was a child.  They lasted but a few moments and came whenever “everything was right in her world:" when she was loved, enjoying school, being cared for.  She noticed these wonderful attacks even though they lasted but a moment. And, wonder of wonders, these attacks continued into her adulthood!  What a blessed woman!  I, too, want to be conscious of such “happiness attacks” in my life and call them by their name!

Have you had a “happiness attack” today?  I have! This morning, I saw our little chipmunks voraciously consuming layer after  layer of tiny blue berries on medium-sized trees outside our chapel—four of them!  The chippies were so quick and even intent upon enjoying this feast in an orderly manner, from top branches to the succeeding layer of leaves and fruit!  I could not help but smile and be grateful for such a lovely “happiness attack."

Or you may have witnessed—as I did-- a six month old baby girl sleeping contentedly upon her daddy’s shoulder.  Or was it a simple thoughtful action like that of a young school child holding a door and smiling at the elderly woman carrying her two bags with  minimal contents as she made her way out of the supermarket?

Let us begin to notice our “happiness attacks."  Surely these would calm the “panic attacks” that at times may visit us. . .or at least others for whom “not all things go right in their world.”

 

Renee Domeier, OSB

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Eloise at Five Years Old!


My little neighbor friend turned five. She invited me for her birthday party. She was excited to turn five this summer and proudly beamed she would be going to kindergarten. Eloise is a very precocious, intense and playful five year old. She’s a delight to be with and I have learned so much from her.  Most of us really need a five-year-old friend to keep us grounded in life.

(Photo of Eloise's picture by Trish Dick, OSB)
Yesterday she gave me one of her drawings. She was befuddled about how to draw a five so her mom drew a five on the paper so she could trace it. She made a grand picture for me but decided the five wasn’t how she liked it, so she started over and made her five and then quickly realized her name wouldn’t fit on the page. No problem -- she would write the rest of the letters to her name below.  She proudly gave it to me to hang on my refrigerator.

Eloise taught me that there is beauty in our imperfection. Actually, there is an abundance of life in not getting things right. What mattered the most was her generosity and purity heart in giving this gift. There was no shame in her letters below the five and that is exactly where they needed to be. I mean where else would you put the letters when there is plenty of room there? 

Every day for the Benedictine way of life is a turning – a conversion of our heart. Let us cast our imperfections upon the Everlasting love of God and enjoy the beauty of grace. This is true holiness and purity of heart. Embrace the life of conversion – finding beauty in imperfection and adapt the letters of your life where needed.

 

Trish Dick, OSB