Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Year of Consecrated Life: November 30, 2014 - February 2, 2016

One year ago this month, Pope Francis, in addressing the Union of Superiors General in Rome, announced that 2015 would be a year dedicated to consecrated life. The year would begin on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and end on the Sunday for consecrated life on February 2, 2016 - in effect making it a year of 15 months!

I love the expression "all in God's good time" and it is a little bit how I feel as we enter the season of Advent and launch the Year of Consecrated Life on Sunday. Here at the monastery we have planned a few events throughout the year and have partnered with the College of Saint Benedict and the diocese of Saint Cloud. Three themes have been identified as the focus of this year:
  1. Praying with gratitude for our Sisters who have paved the way for us here in central Minnesota and supported us in our lives as Benedictines
  2. Embracing the future with hope
  3. Living in the present with passion
Since the Year of Consecrated Life is a world-wide event, you will no doubt be hearing or reading about it wherever you find yourself.

About now a question is probably beginning to take shape in your mind; something like: "That is all very nice but how does this affect me in my very busy everyday life?"  It is true.  If you do not have a personal connection with a sister, a brother, or a priest, or if you did not attend a Catholic school or college/university chances are that this year will not touch you directly but if you are reading this blog you do have some interest in or curiosity about the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. I invite you to take on as a "project" this year to connect with one sister here at the monastery. Sister Karen Rose, OSB, is always happy to hear from people who comment on our Facebook and she is very quick in responding to those who write.  Why not come for a visit if you are in the vicinity of St. Joseph, MN?  We offer wonderful hospitality.  This is the time of the year when we are grateful for the many blessings we receive from our friends and, so, as a "thank you" we promise to hold you in prayer and would be grateful if you  would pray for our fidelity and perseverance in the life that God has called us to.

Hélène Mercier,OSB

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spirit of Gratitude

In our country we celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November but actually there is a spirit of gratitude in the air throughout the month!   What is it that arouses gratitude in our hearts, not unlike the spirit of Christmas that arises long before December 25th?  A 14th century monk wrote that we only need a scrap of time to move toward God and that maybe our ways of coming toward God  some days are all scraps! (Cloud of Unknowing)  Couple that idea with Meister Eckhart’s “If the only prayer we ever offer is ‘thank you’ that is enough!” And we can understand why the spirit of gratitude already felt this November is appropriate all year long!  There are so many reasons why we can be grateful, day in and day out!

Since our community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of our Sacred Heart Chapel, we have found many ways to mark that centennial event!  Recently we gave a concert.  One piece of music was the rendition by Gwyneth Walker of e.e.cummings’ ageless poem: 

i thank you God for  most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

After hours of practicing this song in which the first line is repeated at least a dozen times, the message and the melody stick to one’s mind—day and night! “I thank you God for most this amazing day. . .”  Day after day, year after year, we have been recipients of amazing gifts, amazing people, amazing happenings, amazing revelations from an amazing God!  How can we stop from singing? From being grateful?  Happy thanksgiving, today and forever!

Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hungry for Hope?

Green beans are up!

Are you hungry for hope?  I recommend you sit near some young green beans plants.  It’s a wonder in early summer… one morning the beans are barely poking through the ground, and by the end of the day they’ve grown 3 inches.  I’m not exaggerating!  I’ve often thought it would be fun to position a camera with a timer by the beans.  It would be thrilling to watch a day’s worth of photos of the beans growing!  They are strong, persistent, determined, and eager. 
Now that it’s early November, the bean plants have done all they are going to do for the year: grown, produced endless fruit, fed the soil with nitrogen, dried up and been plowed under. Yet their spiritual lessons remain with us.  Are you hungry for hope?  Sometimes I need to see other people’s strength and persistence to remember my own. And sometimes I need to work as part of a determined and eager team to re-energize my own potential. As I dream of our next garden season at the Common Ground Garden, beans and all, I am grateful and thrilled for our communal determination to continue the Benedictine tradition of sustainable agriculture in Central Minnesota.  

Kate Ritger, OblSB
Common Ground Garden Production Manager 

Thursday, November 13th is Give to the Max Day, an opportunity for donors to give on-line to their favorite non-profits.  This year the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict are raising funds for the Common Ground Garden.  Donated funds will help us upgrade the electrical connection to our barn, expand cool storage space, improve working and education space, and dream toward a winter greenhouse.   
Thank you for your support and for sharing our hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vote Today!


Nearly six weeks ago I was one of the Nuns on the Bus with Sister Simone Campbell of Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby, promoting our right and privilege to vote.  Vote in what?  The 2014 Mid-term Elections.  Have you voted yet?  Today is the day!  It was necessary for us nuns to run around MN and promote this election because too few people are voting - thus ,too few people are making political decisions. And too few people contribute to campaigns and the “big bucks” are taking over.  So I urge, encourage, challenge you to exercise your right and enjoy your privilege to VOTE TODAY!  

Check out this crazy, delightful  YouTube .     

We're not telling you who to vote for but asking, as the Catholic bishops have urged, to go to the polls and vote for the people whom you believe  will do the best job.

Kerry O'Reilly, OSB