Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beauty: the work of God's hands

POTS by Sister Dennis Frandrup, OSB
 "Yet, God, you are our [parent];
we are the clay and you our potter: we are the work of your hands."
(Isaiah 64:7)

If you keep up with our Facebook you will have learned that S. Dennis Frandrup, OSB, artist in residence at the College of Saint Benedict, has an exhibit on at the moment at the Gorecki Gallery entitled: A Ceramic Celebration: 100 Works Plus.  On Sunday, August 25, there was a reception in her honor during which S. Dennis explained the "how" of producing such beautiful objects . . . and they are truly beautiful, all 100 of them!
 In this short blog it is impossible to do justice to her work but I wanted to share with you an insight from something I learned from S. Dennis on Sunday. Clay pots when ready are fired at 2,400 degrees F. The potter is never certain how the pieces will turn out, including how intended designs will show up on the finished product. The image above illustrates this very well.  Another thing I learned is that the fumes from the glaze from one pot can be transfered to the surface of a nearby pot while they are in the kiln.  The pot on the right of the picture has a dark red mark on it and there is another pot in the exhibit that also has the same color on it . . . they were side by side in the kiln as they were being fired. 
Metaphors never work perfectly but if God is the potter and we the clay would it be too far-fetched to believe that during our lifetime God fires us at 2,400 degrees to transform us into how God intends us to be; and being side by side to one another we support each other in God's work of transformation.  In the words of S. Dennis, "Beauty is transformative and the more we expose ourselves to beauty the more it is possible to be transformed."
If you live near St. Joseph do not miss S. Dennis' exhibit; it goes until September 28, 2013. Come and expose yourself to true beauty!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stanley's Light

Each of us has been around persons who show their inner strength as they age. This has certainly been true of the former president of the College of Saint Benedict, Dr. Stanley Idzerda. It was appropriate that he went to his heavenly home on the feast of Transfiguration at the age of 93. One of his hallmarks was boundless enthusiastic energy. When asked, “How are you doing?” he was known to wholeheartedly respond, “I’m flourishing.”

Another quality Stanley lived out was an unflagging faithfulness even in his 80s and 90s. We at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., came to cherish the stability and resonance he lent to our monastic choir by his daily presence of at our 7 a.m. Morning Praise, even the morning of his death.  Winter did not deter him. He would clamp metal spikes onto his shoes so he would not slip while walking several blocks from his home to chapel. Often he was accompanied back and forth under the watchful eyes of Sister Ruth Anne Schneider, so both dignity and safety remained intact.

Somehow the words of Elisabeth Kϋbler-Ross come to mind when I think of Stanley, or “Brother Stanley” as we monastics preferred to refer to him. “People are like stained glass windows: They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.”

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I had to search for the meaning of its title and how it was relevant to the content of  the poem that I wish to include here!  Why this particular title, MIMESIS ?  According to the Chambers Cambridge Dictionary, “mimesis” is related to “mime” an ancient farcical play of real life; a play without dialogue, relying solely on movement, expression, etc; imitation or representation in art; simulation of one disease by another  What meaning does the author of this poem, Fady Joudah, wish to convey?  Given this moment in our history, how does this provocative poem speak to you? to us?



My daughter
wouldn’t hurt a spider
that had nested
between her bicycle handles
for two weeks
She waited
until it left of its own accord 

If you tear down the web I said
it will simply know
this isn’t a place to call home
and you’d get to go biking

She said that’s how others
become refugees isn’t it?

Renee Domeier, OSB

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lessons from the Pope

During his recent visit to Brazil, CNN broadcast an entire Mass being celebrated by Pope Francis as he joined thousands of people gathered to celebrate World Youth Day. Crowds of up to 3,000, 000, came to hear him. He is a man who can draw an audience.

The new Pope has already touched the hearts of many through his simplicity and genuine concern for those who are poor and disadvantaged. Already he is affectionately known as the "parish priest of the world" and "the slum pope". People love him because he loves them.

Pope Francis touches so many people's hearts, not because of of his office, but because of who he is as a man, how he tries to live out his beliefs and remain faithful to the gospel he proclaims. His high-profile position means that he attracts media attention, and that's great because his message of compassion gets out to many people. But, what is really important is his personal conversion to the gospel, his commitment to it and determination to live that conviction in his daily life. For me, this provides a real meditation. My commitment to following Christ is personal, it centers on my inner conversion and how I manifest that in my life. What's important is not how many people recognize that, but that I am faithful to my call and try to live out the love and compassion of Christ each day.

Karen Rose, OSB