Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Graced Encounters

Recently, I read Dr. Christopher Pramuk’s book Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line, in which he invites people of good will to stand courageously in the breach between what is and what is possible, daring us to imagine a world of cross-racial friendship, justice and solidarity. "In the breach": not an easy place to stand in difficult, overwhelming situations; we want to avoid danger and so often choose to stand outside the breach, hoping  someone who is wiser, less frightened, more level-headed than we, might take the stand; surely there are those more experienced and knowledgeable about what to do better than we in a world so broken and complex! It is natural to feel pressured from within our own convictions or pressured from without to do what we feel incapable of doing! The result? We stand looking on helplessly and/or let the more powerful and fearless do what we feel we could never do! WRONG!

Common Ground Garden Production Manager
Kate Ritger with some garden members.

Read what one of our CSB seniors, Sydney McDevitt, offers in a recent issue of The Record (11/26). The title alone gives us a clue to her passionate message: "We need tiny, consistent acts of decency to uplift those around us." She writes, in part: "It would be easy in this world we now live in to throw up our hands, say there is nothing we can do and simply get on with our lives. However, this is a position of privilege we cannot afford to take...It is of the highest hubris for white people to tell people of color they will be fine, Christians to tell Muslims their lives will go on, cisgender people to tell members of the trans community their world will not change..."

Despite this, it is hard to keep going. Continues Sydney: “How do we continue? The answer is simple: do the tiny, decent things. We do not have to join in every march or get mad at every ignorant thing...What we need to do is take care of each other...It is dire we show compassion for each other. Lift up the people around you who feel discouraged. Make sure your own friends and family are doing okay. Do the act of kindness that is going to change the day of the stranger you pass by. Then when you’re ready, jump back into the marches, the calling, the discourse...Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., told us: 'If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.'"

Thank you, Sydney!
Thank you, Dr. Christopher Pramuk!
Thank you, cherished reader!

Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Take One Step at a Time

Now that we are beginning the third week of Lent, how are you doing on your spiritual journey? For me, the days of Lent start to get harder right about now. I tend to focus on the days that are ahead of me rather than asking myself, “What have I learned about myself since Ash Wednesday?” As I reflect on my own words, I find myself saying, “Lisa, take one step, one day, at a time.” The step that I will take today does not need to be a big step. I have to remind myself that if I simply take a step in the right direction, it will lead me to God and that is all I need to do. To take this step is what I call “living in the moment.” It is the best way for me to encounter God in everything I do. When I actually pay attention to the people and experiences God has put into my life, I am happier and more at peace. I am happier living in the moment because that is where I find God. I do not want to miss God or His love, so taking one step at a time is another way to live and love every day. 

If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sisters Helping Sisters

Welcome to Saint Scholastica Convent!

At Saint Scholastica Convent, the retirement and assisted living facility for the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in St. Cloud, Minn., sisters respond to Christ’s command that we love and serve one another. The more able sisters regularly reach out to the sisters receiving skilled care. At any time of day, sisters can be found pushing sisters’ wheelchairs, assisting them at the dining room table or attending to the unforeseen. 

A most recent project during the Christmas season evidenced this kind of caring. About 20 sisters signed up to assist with Christmas mail for individual sisters in Louise Hall. Activities ensued, such as enjoying the mail with the particular sister, sending a Saint Scholastica’s common letter to the writer, adding a note from her or about her or writing a thank you note, as needed. It is such a good way of keeping the sister who cannot respond connected with her family and friends.  Part two of this project meant that the return address and the relationship of the sender to the sister would be saved for database entry which, in turn, supplied printed out address sheets for the sisters’ files in the main office. Thus the task is complete until the next Christmas season.

Due to their need for more extensive care, a few of our sisters reside at next door's Saint Benedict's Senior Community. Sisters bring their mail and visit them often. Occasionally, one of those sisters is brought to Saint Scholastica’s for a meal, a visit and/or a prayer service. This is one welcome treat for the individual.

A third example of caring for each other relates to the sisters experiencing dementia issues. Having these sisters' do activities in the unit where they live is very helpful to them. Sister volunteers take turns serving this group one day a week. Directed by them, sisters residing in the unit have Eucharist streamed from our chapel each day, followed by a shortened form of Liturgy of the Hours (LOH). The same volunteers take turns leading the next two daily prayer times at the same time that the sisters pray in chapel.  

These are some of the ways that we at Saint Scholastica Convent respond to Christ’s command that we love and serve one another.

Janet Thielges, OSB

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Migrants Among Us

Sisters Margaret Maus (left) and Dorothy Manuel
sharing their stories with each other.
Many of us have known the feeling of needing to move to a new geographic space as our life changes. This is especially true if where we are now provides almost no potential for our life to unfold in a life-giving way. This “displacement” or migration may be as subtle as “being new in town,” being a new employee or choosing a new life commitment. So as Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, said during a U.S. visit, “There's a little bit of migrant in everyone” (NCR, Feb 15, 2018). Tagle, who is president of Caritas Internationalis, the Church's worldwide federation of relief and development agencies, encourages us to base our daily interactions on the model proposed by the "Share the Journey" campaign introduced in September by Pope Francis. It invites people of faith to interact with and welcome migrants to hear their stories. We have multiple opportunities in our daily life to hear the stories of the migrants-among-us with whom we rub shoulders and discover their life-shifting human experiences. This personal exchange and fuller understanding of each other’s gifts and wounds may be a dress rehearsal for choosing even more diverse “Sharing the Journey” opportunities. What would shift in our world if we had an ever-expanding chorus of people saying wholeheartedly, “What an amazing sister or brother you are. I didn’t really know it in the same way until today. Thank you for your sharing.”

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Preparing for Lent

Evening prayer in Sacred Heart Chapel. 

Repent and believe the good news! These words from the Ash Wednesday liturgy remind us of our call to live in such a way that we do proclaim the good news. The readings for this Sunday are a good preparation for the days of Lent, which begin on Wednesday. The stories of the lepers can be reminders to us of our sinfulness and our need to repent.  What are the sores of leprosy that are in us? It could be such things as gossip, selfishness, pride, jealousy, disobedience and the list can go on.  

During these days before Ash Wednesday, let us take time to pray and ask God to help us to see our sores that need to be healed. The Church suggests that we make resolutions for the season of Lent. These resolutions should cover three areas: PRAYER, FASTING and ALMSGIVING. Some suggestions for prayer might be to attend Mass during the week, attend the stations of the cross, say the rosary as a family or set aside 10 minutes of quiet in your day to pray and talk to God. Fasting calls us to give up something that we really like to eat, a favorite TV show or some activity that we spend too much time on, like playing computer games or time on your phone! Use this time for family or for reading the Bible! Finally, almsgiving means sharing the gifts that we have with others. This can be as simple as giving to the food shelf, using the rice bowl for money to give to the missions, helping an elderly neighbor or relative or doing extra tasks at home without being asked.

Use this week to prepare for Lent through family sharing and quiet time. What does God want us to do this Lent that will deepen our relationship with Him? 

Betty Larson, OSB

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Power of the Eucharist

Sisters Modesta Arceneau (front) and
Lisa Rose prepare the gifts for Eucharist.
"Amen," I say when I receive the body and blood of Christ at Eucharist. The "amen" of my response is a simple word. Yet, at the same time, "amen" is a word that confirms for me that the bread and wine I am receiving is Christ. In receiving Christ through the bread and wine during a Eucharist celebration, no matter where I am, I am with people who believe as I believe. This belief is a source of strength for me as I strive to live as Jesus taught. 

In his book titled "One Great Act of Fidelity", Ronald Rolheiser says the following about the Eucharist: "The Eucharist is meant to send us out into the world, ready to give expression to Christ's hospitality, humility and self-effacement." As I read this quote, I remind myself that as a follower of Christ, I am to serve as Christ served. At the same time, as a follower of Christ, I am to serve for Christ in today's world. Receiving the Eucharist strengthens me to be Christ for the people I meet every day. At Saint Benedict's Monastery, we celebrate the Eucharist every day and receive this spiritual nourishment. 

If you would like more information about our monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Life in a Wheelchair

"Blue Wheelchairs"
Provided by Pexels.com
I fell
and injured my back.
I can see, hear and talk
and my mind is as sharp as a whistle.

Bring on changes.
They minimize visits.
"Can anyone who can't walk, talk?"
Seems not.

With companion. 
Person I knew came by. 
Greeted only my companion.
Ah well! 

A gent "gets" it.
"Did she fall?" asked a lady.
"Ask her. She can talk," said the gent.
I'm real!

I smiled. 
It made my day. 
The wheelchair's a helpful thing;
but I never stop being a person.
Thank you!

Janet Thielges, OSB