Friday, July 30, 2010

Flower Pots at Starbucks

I planted two big pots of flowers at Starbucks. I thought we needed some beauty and nature in the cement world that the where the Starbucks store is set on Hwy 23. WOW, has it helped the morale of employees and customers.

I often ask the customers if they have noticed the flowers and how beautiful they are. "What flowers?" they say. "Hello, the two big pots right outside the door!" "Oh," they grin, and often come back in after they have left and tell me they are beautiful.

The employees meticulously water and take care of the plants when I am not working and often give me a report on how they are doing. If you think about it, it doesn’t take much to enjoy life. Just stop and see the beauty of life around you. That’s what I love about the call to treat every vessel as sacred in the Rule of St. Benedict. The beauty around us is sacred; the call is to notice. Check out the next flower pot you find on your way and smile at God’s sacred imagination.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Catholic Worker Movement in Central Minnesota

Some of you may have heard the words “Catholic Worker Movement” floating around recently. I hope you have been hearing these words, because I’m one of the core (as in four) members advocating to bring hope and foster community in our local area in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. In 1933, these two Gospel activists responded to the poor and needy of their time by founding the Catholic Worker Movement (CWM). Through a three-fold program of clarification of thought, prayerful reflection and development of houses of hospitality, the CWM brought hope and community to those in need. Now it is our turn to do the same.

A small core of people has been meeting for the past year in an effort to foster community in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. This core group will publish a periodic newsletter, sponsor Catholic worker roundtable discussions and engage in prayer and reflection. We welcome others to join us in the beginning efforts to form a Catholic worker movement in the St. Joseph-St. Cloud area.

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”  Dorothy Day

To be added to our mailing list for the newsletter and updates on meetings, please e-mail me at To learn about the Catholic Worker Movement, click here.

Submitted by Eunice Antony, OSB

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Evening Bike Rides

One of the many blessings of summer is riding my bike through and around campus after Evening Prayer. I go on the many paths through the campus: to its outer edge on the road abutting a farmer’s field, past the prairie section, to the main college entrance and eventually around to the grotto walk and into the monastic cemetery. The new statue of Bernadette in the grotto looks more at home each time I ride by. I enjoy seeing the colorful rows of flowers on Mother Benedicta Riepp’s grave that Sister Ephrem Hollermann, our former prioress, tends each summer.

Something new in the cemetery this year is a bench placed near Benedicta’s grave. Sometimes I get off my bike and spend a few minutes there. July is the month Benedicta and two Sisters arrived in New York from Eichstätt, Bavaria. In fact, it was on July 4 in 1852. I wonder what these German immigrants just “off the boat” made of the celebrating that was most likely occurring? Did they have any notion of the significance of the holiday? The blessing of the hard-won freedoms?

Benedicta had a strong spirit like that of early American pioneers and she used it well. She came to bring the life and work of Benedictine women to America. It’s almost as if she knew she had only 10 short years in America before sickness would claim her life. She worked tirelessly to assure that American Benedictine women would be free to shape their lives and to govern themselves as was their history. Benedicta did accomplish this, but not without difficulties and setbacks. We here at Saint Benedict’s in 2010 continue to benefit from her unwavering purpose.

I take so much for granted. I’m glad the bench is there. It invites me to stop, reflect and be grateful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Markout of Mercy

Yesterday, I went to Starbucks to pick up a pound of coffee for Sister Mary David Olheiser with a gift card she had received. When I went to pay, I explained that I was buying coffee for a 92-year-old Sister at our monastery. The Starbucks partner at the cash register said, "I want to donate my pound of coffee this week to this Sister."

What is it in this partner that inspired her to give her pound of coffee away to a Sister she doesn't know? What about the partner who donates her pound of coffee every week to the soldiers in Afghanistan? The goodness of God that dwells in all of us shines through the many touches of mercy we give one another. Give away the goodness of God today.

The Rule of St. Benedict says, Listen with the ear of your heart and respond with a markout of mercy for those around you.  (Note: "markout" is the term Starbucks uses for the coffee that employees get each week.)

Rest and Relaxation!

Rest and Relaxation! Those words bring us a sigh of relief or an aching desire for that which we yearn. Many of us long for quiet time without the invasive noise that marks the world around us. But sometimes it is even more difficult to quiet the inner noise and clamor that goes on in our minds.

Last year the team at the Spirituality Center decided to offer one day a month that we call R & R Day. This no-fee day is a gift from the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict to the people of Central Minnesota. Our hope was that it could be a relaxing day in which to experience God’s presence in one’s life. Any time between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., you can find a quiet and peaceful place. Optional opportunities include a short presentation at 10:30 a.m. and group lectio divina at 3 p.m. You may walk the grounds of the campus and woods, walk the labyrinth path, read, or just sit and stare! A visit with a spiritual companion from the Center is available.

On July 9th, the number of people who came exceeded all our expectations. Picture 21 people gathered in one place spending a day in quiet reflection. No TV, no phones ringing, no computers, just silence, bird song and heartbeats. Imagine seeing women and men sitting in a quiet space reading, or outside writing in a journal, walking with no real purpose other than the slowing down of one’s life. Imagine the thoughts, prayers, insights, hopes and dreams being played out in the silence. There was a great sense of peace and at the same time an awareness of profound inner activity.

It seems to me that this is one of the truest ministries of our monastery: to offer this place and space to our sisters and brothers in the world around us. One of the significant spiritual practices of monastic life has always been what is called lectio divina, “holy reading.” There are three books that have been read for centuries in monasteries all over the world: the book of nature, the book of Scripture, and the book of one’s own experience. Each of these books can slowly lead us to the revelation of God’s marvelous presence in our lives. But one needs space and solitude to plumb the depth of these books. We hope Saint Benedict’s Monastery provides you with that space and solitude and we look forward to seeing you at the next R & R.

R & R days are scheduled for Friday, October 1 and Monday, November 8, 2010. Click here to learn more about the Spirituality Center and subscribe to our e-newsletter alerting you to upcoming events.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green Apron without Strings Attached

In the monastery car I use for work, I always have a Starbucks green apron in the backseat. Therefore, when I need to go to work I know it’s available -- unless of course I've spilled something on it and it needs to be cleaned. Which is quite often, since I am beginning to think I am the Lucille Ball of Starbucks.

This week I got two texts from partners asking for help to cover a shift. One wanted to go and enjoy a nice summer day with family and the other one was ill. I didn’t plan on working at Starbucks and had other things on my schedule. I texted back and said yes to both of them and rearranged my schedule.

True generosity of time without expecting payback goes a long way in connecting to the heart of people. This has been modeled to me by my pastoral colleagues in ministry and Sisters in our monastic community. One Sister in particular is there for everyone and gives generously without ever expecting anything in return – no strings attached. When I grabbed my keys and apron to go to work, I thought of this Sister and how she has impacted my life. The gospel of grace and love has no strings attached. It is pure generosity. The Rule of St. Benedict says that we are to run in the inexpressible delight of love; how much faster we can run with no strings attached?

Put on the green apron and run with generosity.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"In the Silence rests my freedom"

A few weeks ago I was traveling from St. Cloud to the MSP airport via Executive Express. Conversation among strangers was polite and to varying degrees self-revealing. The 90 minutes afforded some to be lost in the rural landscape that created space to simply be. When we arrived at the airport, the driver announced the progression of stops that would have us retrieving our luggage and making our way to our particular airline. There were polite good-byes among us as the van was nearing its stop. I happened to overhear a relatively young man and an elder gentleman say they would like to reconnect. The elder gentleman asked the younger for his cell phone number. The response given surprised the elder; I don’t have a cell phone. The elder named all sorts of reasons as to why he traveled with a cell phone--barely hiding his disbelief. The younger man simply responded that he needed to live with boundaries in his life. He went on to explain that he had an office phone, a home phone and access to e-mail and for him this was more than adequate for those who might wish to connect with him.

This brief exchange has stayed with me, lingering in my spirit as if desiring to awaken a teaching, a truth about life. I found myself resonating with the desire to hold boundaries. I have asked myself why this is so important to me. What is my underlying desire? Looking for an answer, I continue to engage in the exploration that draws me to greater insight. These are a few of my musings. Boundaries create space to be, to hear, to see, to stand in the present moment. In this milieu there grows mindfulness, an awakening of senses, which opens my heart to a deep and abiding gratitude. Boundaries help me to claim what I value, what I most desire to hold close to my heart. Boundaries have a way of claiming me.

Benedict’s wisdom, all things in moderation, helps me to avoid absolutes or the polarization of goods. It also helps me to ask the tough questions of myself. How much is enough? What gods have claim on my attention? Can I risk being “unplugged” from social networking for thirty minutes, an hour, or a day, in order to give myself freely and openly to my community?

In the Silence rests my freedom and my guidance… Psalm 62, translation Nan C. Merrill

For original source of photo, click here.

Celebrate a Faithful Person Month

Today is another gorgeous summer day. It reminds me of grade school days, when going to Big Fish Lake on the school bus to take swimming lessons was a big part of my summer. And yesterday, getting caught in the monastery sprinkler system on the way to the garden provided a flashback to trips through the sprinkler in my family's backyard. Memories of those simple joys still make me grin.

The most recent simple pleasure was seeing our garden patch, weed free, brimming with lettuce, spinach, cilantro, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs and well over knee high corn. There’s something about the faithfulness it takes to keep a garden thriving that enhances the flavor of its produce.

Faithfulness is not necessarily an abundant commodity these days. That’s why I delight every time I see it celebrated. Somehow I wish we could declare July as “Celebrate a Faithful Person” month. It definitely fits with the faithfulness of all our veterans. This could also be an invitation to celebrate someone you know who would never think of himself or herself as famous or extraordinary. Wouldn’t your friend, family member, neighbor or coworker be surprised to receive a rose or special note from you thanking them for what they have taught you about faithful, steady support?

Faithfulness was acknowledged at the recent Fourth of July celebration in St. Joseph, Minn. The grand marshal for the city’s parade was Esther Reischl. For 35 years she took care of children as a “nanny” and she volunteered for 30 years for the Veteran’s Administration and the American Legion Auxiliary and over 20 years at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in housekeeping. She regularly drives people to appointments, helps with lunches at the local grade school and meals after funerals. She is known among St. Joseph residents as someone who always can be called on if someone needs help. The applause and shouting that arose when she drove by in her vintage convertible gave tribute to her steady generosity over the years. Tears of appreciation and broad grins accompanied the applause!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cants Can Do at Starbucks

One morning recently, I ran out of clean laundry, so I grabbed a pair of beige pants from the monastery’s clothes exchange and thrift shop, named Aunt Laura’s. They fit perfectly, except for one slight problem: they were what we used to call “high waters.” They weren’t short enough to be capris or long enough to be pants. There was no time to hem or take out the hem, so I decided just to go ahead and wear them to work. They were so comfortable, how could I not?

Being self-conscious of my “high waters” and lack of style around the young adults at Starbucks, I mentioned my “high waters” to a fellow barista. She told me, “Sister Trish, we will call them ‘cants,’ a new style. We’ll take the ‘c’ from capris and put it on the ‘ants’ of pants to make cants." We both loved the new style and proudly displayed to my fellow workers my stylish cants. Now I come to work proud of wearing my cants or, if I don’t, the other baristas ask me, “Where are the cants?”

Hmm… dirty in the laundry basket... I’ll have to go with pants or capris today.

You know you are part of a family and community when the marginal, different members or pieces of clothing all fit in and are welcomed and honored. Starbucks understands the Rule of St. Benedict— all are to be received as Christ. How interesting that the Rule is experienced in so many different shapes and forms, both in my monastic community and with my fellow baristas at Starbucks!

submitted by Trish Dick, OSB

for link to original photo, click here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who are the Nuns?


One of the most exciting things I carried away from the History of Women Religious Conference last week was the knowledge that websites are being developed in order to make the internet a valuable tool for scholars who want to know about the contributions of nuns.

Only recently has the world become aware that women religious communities have been responsible for building and staffing thousands of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages in this country. However, getting those stories into the public arena is a growing concern.

In a collaborative effort, leaders from eight Catholic universities (Boston College, The Catholic University of America, Georgetown University, Marquette University, University of Notre Dame, St. Edwards University, University of San Diego, and Seton Hall University) in the United States formed the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA).

The mission of the CRRA is to provide global access to Catholic research resources. They hope to provide access to rare, unique and uncommon research materials which are held by college, university, and seminary libraries and archives in North America. While these resources may be abundant, they are scattered among many special collections and archives. Sometimes they are documented but often they are only in the mind of the archivist or librarian.

Thus far, the CRRA has identified twelve primary collecting themes:
1. Catholic education
2. Catholic intellectual life
3. Catholic literary figures
4. Catholic liturgy and devotion
5. Catholic missions
6. Catholic social action
7. Diocesan collections, including papers of Bishops
8. Men's religious orders
9. Peace building
10. Religion and citizenship
11. Vatican II
12. Women's religious orders

The "Catholic Portal," is already an invaluable contribution to the intellectual tradition, but it promises to be even better as its pool of members increases and treasures are discovered. It is just a click away:
(Picture from St. Benedict's Monastery Archives)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Starbucks Revisited

This past week was a little hectic at Starbucks with the Fourth of July holiday travelers. The holiday ended with the joy of one delightful customer. His eyes barely reached over the counter. He ordered with confidence a short child’s latté in an adult tall cup. He ordered for his mother – a grande nonfat latté. When I told him how impressed I was at his ability to call out his drinks and the cup order he told me he wanted to work at Starbucks and asked if he could talk to the manager. So I fetched the manager and told him he had a customer who wanted to talk to him. I reassured him that he would enjoy this conversation with the customer. So the boy proceeded to tell the manager he wanted to work at Starbucks. When asked his age, he replied that he was four but his birthday was the next day and he would proudly be turning five. Would that work? As well he reassured the manager that he would be attending kindergarten. The manager told him he would be a great worker, but we need to wait maybe a few years and to come back when he was 10. The hope of working at the age of 10 at Starbucks delighted him, as did the chocolate chip cookie we gave him in celebration of his birthday.

In finishing a hectic week of work, it was delightful of God to send me a reminder through a four year old– to live exuberantly in the present moment , to delight in anticipation of tomorrow’s celebration and to hold on to the hope of a dream for the future. If you want to inherit the kingdom, you must become like a child. It is simply amazing how God shows up at a coffee shop!

by Trish Dick, OSB

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July Musings

Summer is (officially) about two weeks old and certainly looking a luscious green around here. July brings a myriad of events which gladden the heart. The annual July 4 celebration in St. Joseph is always “ripsnorting,” and I can never resist going to the quilt auction in mid-afternoon. The morning parade is generally fun, too—though the trucks seem to be multiplying each year. This year the 4th is on a Sunday. We'll have Mass at 8:30 a.m. instead of our usual 10:30 so that cars can get in our parking lot (and hopefully out) before the parade starts at 10 a.m.

Here at the monastery we have the wonderful celebration of July 11: the feast of St. Benedict and with it the honoring of our golden and silver jubilarians. There are nine of the former and two of the latter this year. The occasion allows us, in fact, encourages each of us Sisters to renew our own commitment to our vowed life as Benedictines. I am in my 54th year in this community; some days it seems all of that, but mostly the years have flown by and I am still looking forward more than backward. God is good, and so is this life.

Click here to view profiles of our 2010 jubliarians.

photos: above left: Sisters' float in the 2007 St. Joseph festival parade to celebrate their sesquicentennial year.

right: Saint Scholastica Convent held its own parade in 2009, with Ellen Cotone on accordion and hats for all!