Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Claiming Easter

Exultation of the Cross on Good Friday
Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB
I've been living at Saint Benedict's Monastery now for about nine years. I come from England, so answering God's call to this place meant leaving behind those near and dear to me and things that I was familiar with. I don't regret the choice, but I still have moments of intense homesickness when I feel it isn't possible not to live back at home, not to be with those people on a daily basis, for the rest of my life.

Christmas and Easter have always been particularly difficult times for me. They are, of course, rightly, the times when we are obliged to be with the monastic community. Well, what would a monastic community be, if they didn't celebrate the major events of the liturgical year together? So, no complaints about that. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

However, this Easter, I've noticed a change. Some of it's to do with the fact that if I went to England now, I couldn't fall back into Easter as it was when I left. People there have moved, died and churches have evolved. So this year, I couldn't keep thinking, "If I were in England, I would be doing this now, with this or that person." Well, I could think that some of the time, but not all of it.

The other thing is that this is the tenth Easter I've spent at the monastery and there's now a familiarity about the sequence of how we spend it. There are certain things that I love, like the sung Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and the three-part sung Gospel on Easter morning. Where changes have been introduced, I've been part of the process and, as that's happened, I think I've developed a sense of this becoming "my" Easter. It seems I'm reaching a point where I can look back over the Easters of my life and appreciate all of them for what they are. I've stopped comparing them and finding the present wanting in relation to the past. Instead, I'm grateful for Easters past, and I wouldn't change them for anything, but I'm also grateful for the Easter of the present and grateful to realize that, wherever, and however, and with whomever I celebrate Easter, it still carries the same message - the triumph of love over death.

Karen Rose, OSB

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"I can rise and shine, just not at the same time." FB quote, unknown

“Good Morning” one bright eyed sister chirped to me with a big smile as she met me on the way to prayer one morning. Still trying to wake up, I nodded my head in response…the most I could do at that time of the day. I don’t know what it is, but no matter how hard I try, I can never make it to bed before a very late hour. This would not be much of an issue except that our community prays at 7 a.m.! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love our Liturgy of the Hours, but 7 a.m. comes too quickly for me. During Lent I tried extra hard to get up early so that I could be at prayer at 6:45 a.m. instead of rushing in at 6:57 a.m. or later. This was quite a challenge for me, but on most mornings I did succeed. I do have to say it was a good feeling to be ready to chant or recite our psalms when the bell rang promptly at 7 a.m., than trying to figure out what song we were going to sing and what pages we would recite from. But mornings are still a challenge for me. It amazes me when many of our sisters say they get up at 4 or 5 a.m. I just can’t see it. But then again, most of them are gone to bed when I am getting my second wind at 9 or 10 in the evening. Most sisters laugh when I tell them I was working out at 9 p.m. or just starting a movie at 10 p.m.

And the funny thing is, have you ever noticed that if you wake up and it is 6 a.m. and you close your eyes for “5 minutes” it is 7:45 a.m., but if you are at a meeting, school or work and it’s 1:30, close your eyes for 5 minutes and it is 1:31? Well, that’s the way it goes for me anyway.

While mornings are a bane for me, I am always grateful for the day when I get up. I remind myself I am here to sing praise to God with my sisters and that is my incentive to get up each morning when I want to stay in bed. And until we move our morning prayer to 10 a.m., I will continue to find ways to make mornings a more joyful time for me.  Who knows, my next blog may be inspired by me waking up at 4 a.m. with the larks. Until then, I will keep tending to the owls. 

Submitted by S. Tammy Shoemaker

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What Would Jesus Do?

Photo by S. Karen Streveler
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”. John 1:14. Our God loved us so much as to become human, live among us and die for us. What a magnanimous, powerful and loving deed!  How can I ever fathom such incomprehensive love?

Jesus was put to death on a cross experiencing rejection, humility and excruciating pain. Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. John 17:19” And the words that came from the cross were “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

God will never stop loving you, me and every person in the world just as we are.  I can respond to that love by reaching out to serve others. 

Moreover, Jesus taught us how to live. When caught in a dilemma, I can now say, “What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD)”. For example, I’m in a situation where I don’t know because I am driving to the hospital to be with my dying father when I am the first to come upon an accident where immediate help is needed. WWJD?  Or, I am visiting a group of friends who constantly carry on with gossiping about others. WWJD??


Sister Janet Thiegles

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How Did Jesus Do It?

I’m trying to connect a loving God with the events of Holy Week and Easter.  How did Jesus do it?


Jesus learned to listen when God spoke to him through his mother, inviting him to begin manifesting a love-miracle at Cana when he thought it wasn’t the right time.  Jesus had to ignore the criticisms of the Pharisees when they told him he couldn’t lovingly heal on the Sabbath.


Jesus, as the Son of God, had his Father’s DNA. Over and over he listened and chose to obey his Father’s love invitations i.e. trust in God’s mysterious plan, no matter how difficult that might turn out to be.  Then he shocked us by telling us that we too are “children of God” with God-DNA.


He didn’t hide his anguished-listening in the garden. He even asked God to “Let this cup pass from me…, but not my will but Thine be done.” His listening meant “letting go”. He knew he would be betrayed by one of his own, that his death would break the hearts of his loved ones, and that a life of daily revealing the God-message to his people had failed.


Was his last and hardest “letting go” forgiving the atrocities of those who were deaf to Godness and thereby humiliating and disappointing all those who loved and believed in him?


Jesus’ final “letting go”, through forgiveness, celebrated oneness with the-Father.  His choice allowed Resurrection to happen.


We’re children of God.  We share Jesus’ God-DNA.  How is God inviting each of us to listen to and lovingly act on God-nudges?  What letting-go-invitations will open our ears and hearts to lovingly lose our plans, forgive and allow Resurrections to manifest?

S. Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

National Catholic Sister's Week

The month of March is National Women’s History month. It is a time to recognize women who have made a difference in society. National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) is also being celebrated from March 8-14th.   During NCSW sisters are being recognized for their contributions to society. Through their work, dedication, and leadership within their own communities many sisters have led the way for future generations of sisters. Sisters have also lived and ministered in many hospitals and schools leading the way for other women through their leadership roles. At Saint Benedict’s Monastery we are celebrating NCSW with the College of Saint Benedict students and staff. On March 9th we will celebrate the unique relationship between the sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery and the students at the College of Saint Benedict, through an event titled Celebrating our History with Stories, Conversation and Dessert.  We will remember the history of when the sisters established the college. They saw the need to educate young women and built the college. The dream they had has grown over the past 100 years into a strong institution of higher education for women. In the college’s early years it was the sisters who taught and staffed the majority of positions within the college. Today our daily presence is limited because fewer sisters are currently working in the college. The goal of this event is to recognize these amazing sisters who believed in the higher education of women, and to keep their dream alive. For more information contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Sister Lisa Rose, Vocation Director