Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hope Through the Love of Christ

(Girls, God and Good Times Camp
Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB)
I love the season of summer. I love it for a combination of reasons.  There seems be a more relaxed schedule; there is the hustle and bustle of the noise of children outside playing; and there is the unfolding of the beauty of the earth seen in the many flowers, plants and trees. The gardens are full of little sprouts of hope that desire to bear fruit. I am amazed that these little seeds sprout not knowing what the future holds for them. They could be wiped out by the nibbling of cute little critters who are eager for some fresh nourishment. A rain cloud could decides to ping down hail that tears and flattens them. The heat of the sun could scorch them and a human creature forget to water and nourish them. Yet even when they confronted with adverse conditions, these sprouts are resilient and, with some tender loving care, come back to life with a daunting, generous hope of becoming a part of the sustaining beauty of the earth.

I think of the book of Ecclesiastes where it says there is a season and time for everything. Shauna Niequist, in her book, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, states that there is a season for wildness and a season for settledness and this is neither. This season is about becoming.  Hope is about becoming in whatever season we find ourselves.  I do have to admit I am a slower, but impatient, learner at times. The season of becoming and unfolding can be awkward, clumsy and lack coherence.  Yet we Benedictines are given a way to understand the season of becoming through the Rule of St. Benedict, where he stresses the love of Christ as the focal point. The love of Christ is the center of our growth process.  We put hope in Christ and in becoming no matter where we are or how clumsy the process. 

If you find you have little critters of criticism nibbling at your hope of becoming, clouds of voices pinging down doubts of unfolding, or are feeling the sun’s scorning rays of discouragement, then press on in the love of Christ. In Benedict’s Rule, verse 74, Chapter 4, called “The Tools of Good Works,” he admonishes us to not to despair or lose hope in God’s mercy.  That hope may often be found in another person with a watering can, who gently waters your spirit back into the season of becoming.  Ask yourself whether today you are the watering can or the sprout needing nourishment? 

May we all find our anchor of life in the hope of becoming through the love of Christ.

Trish Dick, OSB

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Nectar of Godness

Quieting our being to allow centering prayer to happen is not always easy.  Quiet can so readily give space to unresolved circular thoughts and feelings.  It reminds me a bit of sitting near a hummingbird feeder and noticing the whirring of the bird’s wings.  The rapidly moving wings and the perfect stillness of the rest of the bird’s body presents an amazing contrast.  It seems as though it would take a significant amount of nectar-energy to sustain this simultaneous wing movement and quiet body floatation.

(Photo by Kippy Stuhr)

As we are quieting ourselves for centering prayer, we may begin to notice our brain whirring like the wings of a hummingbird. While we long to connect with the quietness of our body, our brain-wings are simultaneously busy at work. Fortunately, if we can acknowledge our whirring thoughts and feelings and candidly but gently let our brain know that those are “not needed right now”, we can create within ourselves connected moments of inner space for Godness. In this sacred space, the nectar of God’s presence can slowly nurture and transform us.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

“Every sunrise is God’s greeting; every sunset, His signature.”

(Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB)
This morning I experienced God’s personal greeting!  I sat by Watab Lake, in the inky darkness, waiting. 

God is never late; it was 5:55, Central Standard Time.  And at that moment, through an opening in the overcast sky, the sun began to rise, as Emily Dickinson says, “a ribbon at a time”. 
As if there had been a reveille call, the purple martens exited their wooden house to sing to the sun. 
A wild duck perched herself on a post to my left. . .
and stayed there for more than half an hour looking and listening. 
After taking a belabored flight, no doubt stiff from too much
standing on a tiny round space, a blackbird took
the stand.  
There’s more.  The slight wind not only moved the waves downstream, but played with the leaves on most of the trees.  They were happy too:
such stability of place! such freedom to move within
their circumscribed orbits!
 Not like the dozen birds who wafted easily from one branch to another, never hitting their heads but alighting-- with grace—atop
the branches. I remembered one of our Schola
directors telling us to sing chant that way: “on top of the note, like the birds approach their destination; and therefore, not flat, neither distorting the chant nor
hurting ears sensitive to pitch!

Oh, what a lovely morning! What a glorious greeting from our God!  What will the next hours open up to me? 

I’ll keep on looking and listening.  Tonight I’ll be grateful to read God’s signature in the sunset!
Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The Alchemist"

Luminous Lodge Retreat
In the book, “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Caelho we meet a shepherd boy named Santiago. The story tells the reader about Santiago’s search for a hidden treasure in a faraway land. As he embarks on the journey, he sells his sheep and the adventure begins. He meets a variety of people along the way; some rob him of everything he owns, while others teach him the skills of survival in a strange land. Eventually he meets the Alchemist, who teaches Santiago to be true to himself. The Alchemist teaches him that in trusting and believing in himself, he can become his true self. He tells him it is there in his heart where he will find his treasure. As Santiago learns from the Alchemist, he is transformed. He learns to look beyond what he can see to the things he cannot see. He learns to look into himself, into his heart, and listen to what is most important to his life. Santiago finds his treasure through love, love of self and love of life through transformed eyes. So where is your hidden treasure in your life? Here at Saint Benedict’s Monastery we journey with one another through community living and listening to one another. We help one another find our own hidden treasure, as together we seek God. If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

In Gratitude-BWSC Erin's last BLOG

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.
The women's year of service is coming to an end. This week Erin Carey shares her final thoughts about her experience.
My days left at Mount Saint Benedict continue to dwindle as the last nine months are coming to a close. Many people are curious about what I thought of my experience. It’s a difficult question to answer without a little perspective from the experience, but here is what I have learned, appreciated and gathered so far.

From Saint Benedict’s Education Center: One of the teachers at Saint Benedicts has a refrain in the morning of saying “Look. Listen. Smile,” to the refugees to bring their attention to the lesson. It is a  simple mantra that I’ve come to appreciate. It has a centering effect on the refugees and on me, reminding me to take the time to stop and take in what or who is before me with open ears and a smile. The refugees respond with grins and a few laughs. The mantra reminded me to first greet each person as a person before we begin work.


From the Neighborhood Art House: Before classes start at the Art House the children gather together for announcements and to say a pledge:


May my mind think no harm.

May my lips speak no harm.

May my hands do no harm.

May the children of tomorrow

bless the work I offer.


I pledge allegiance to the earth

and all its sacred parts,

its water, land and living things

and all its human hearts.

I pledge allegiance to all life

and promise I shall care

 to love and cherish all its gifts

with people everywhere.


The pledge’s words taught me a nonviolent, global perspective is possible in all things, including art, music, and dance. I love the intentionality of starting classes with this broad and peace-seeking perspective.


From community: At the beginning of community celebrations the sisters sing a mantra:


 “Glorify God. Cherish Christ. Listen to the spirit. Reverence one another. Uphold all.“

(Teachers and Fellow Volunteers
Photo submitted by Erin Carey)


To me, it is a summary of what  monastic life is all about. Glorifying, cherishing, listening, reverencing and upholding take forms in the sisters’ relationships with each other; the care taken in helping an older sister; the teamwork of a dish team or a group to decorate the dining room for holidays; the presence shown to all residents of Erie: children, migrant workers, refugees, the homeless, and the poor; the hospitality shown to me and other women who come to live monastic life for a little while. I am so thankful to have been in a group of women that glorifies, cherishes, listens, reverences and upholds. I believe it is women religious guiding the church and the world into new ways of being and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit at their feet for a little while. The community prayer for vocations begins with the line: “We believe that Benedictine monasticism bears fruit for the world.” After living the life for a little while I can agree one hundred percent. The fruits from examples of awareness, peace, stability, love and acceptance are abundantly given here and I am so grateful.

MANY thanks to all in Minnesota, Iowa, and Erie who have sent prayers, encouragements and love to me. I am touched and grateful for the richness of the opportunity I was graced with the last nine months. I’m looking forward to continuing to unravel the meaning of this experience for years to come.


In gratitude and love,