Thursday, April 27, 2017

An Easter Experience

Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally. This week's BLOG is written by Bethany Purkapile.

Photo submitted by Bethany Purkapile

Easter in the monastery was truly an experience unlike any other. Beginning Thursday morning, the atmosphere alone let you know that something was happening - something big! Our evening started with Mass and the official beginning of Triduum. After Mass, individuals were invited to have dinner with us, but this wasn’t any ordinary meal; it was the Seder meal. One long table at the top of the room held Sister Cecilia (prioress), Father Raymond, Sister Glenna and the Monastic Council as well as some of our community members. There were multiple small tables spread out among our dining room, putting sisters, volunteers and community members together. The head table prefaced each aspect of our meal with a short introduction. Each table then passed around a small dish of Matzo crackers, eggs, parsley, lamb, and a cinnamon apple dish, blessing each as they came around. After dinner, the community entered into silence, which would last until Saturday evening. This was the hardest aspect of celebrating Easter for me. It wasn’t that I was homesick or that I wanted to be with my family, but that we had to be silent for three days (really it was two and a half). As an extrovert, you can imagine just how difficult this would be. All I wanted to do was to smile and say “hi” and be my bubbly self.
Saturday evening made being silent so worth it! The chapel was decorated with flowers and gorgeous ribbons of green, yellow and pink strewn from top to bottom. I couldn’t believe how transformed the chapel and everyone’s spirit was. By Sunday afternoon, although everyone was exhausted, reflecting on the past few days simply brought a smile to my face. Silence was hard, but looking back, Easter is a bittersweet holiday. Jesus was crucified for our sins, he died to save us and throughout the Easter holiday, that is what we are remembering. For three days, Jesus’ disciples and family mourned in silence from the time that he was crucified to when he resurrected from the tomb. For me, Easter had always been about the Easter bunny and eggs, not a symbolic holiday to remember what Jesus gave up for all of us. It was during this reflection time that I realized just how important and truly beautiful Easter is.
The last few weeks while I’m here are shaping up to be very busy! Next week my mom will be making the trip to Virginia to visit the sisters and me. We have a trip planned to DC, but I’m excited for my mom to experience a little bit of what I have experienced this year. After that I will only have three weeks left to wrap up my time with BEACON and BARN, plus all of the monastery events (birthdays, parties and even an 80th Jubilee!). Only 32 days left. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone. I’ve grown so much over my time here and although I’m ready to be home and in one place for more than a few months out of the year, I know it is going to be hard to leave Bristow. I’ve had so many great experiences and created such amazing friendships while here. It’ll be hard to put those all behind me and go home.
Sending my love,
Bethany Purkapile

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