Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Why Are You Sad My Heart?"

“Why are you sad, my heart?

Why do you grieve?

Wait for the Lord,

I will yet praise God my savior.” Psalm 42


Cyclone damage to the Monastery (1916)
Events these past few weeks answer the psalmist’s questions about why my heart might be sad or why I might be grieving. Hurricanes and earthquakes have brought death, injury and devastation to so many; the nuclear threat from North Korea has escalated; millions across the globe continue to face the horrors of terrorism and civil war.  These events also make me ask another question, “Why does a loving, forgiving God allow these things to happen?” I don’t know. I don’t have secret hotline to God through which my questions and doubts are answered.

In saying that I don’t know, however, I have the inkling of an insight. In common with most of the world, I don’t know why God lets these things happen, but it makes me very conscious of my common humanity. I know that I’m fortunate not, at this time, to be directly affected by these disasters, but I’m very conscious of suffering in my heart alongside the many victims throughout the world. And that gives me an understanding of what it might mean to love my neighbor as myself. It is right that I should feel sad and grieved.

The next two lines of Psalm 42 start to mean more to me. I don’t understand the mind of God and I don’t need to. My call is to wait and allow God’s love to flow through me, whether that’s by providing practical help to victims, making a donation or supporting my brothers are sisters who are hurting through prayer.  

One of the great gifts of the psalms is that they encompass the whole of human experience. Psalm 42 is one of my favorites because it doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions that challenge our faith; it doesn’t pretend that life is always good but acknowledges that, at times, we are disturbed and disquieted. It also ends with advice: “Wait for the Lord.” That’s where we are at this moment, waiting for the Lord, continuing to pray in hopeful trust for light in our darkness.

Karen Rose, OSB

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"On Being"

(Sisters working with Habitat for Humanity)
Recently, Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of well-known anthropologist Margaret Mead, was interviewed on Krista Tippet’s program On Being. An over-reaching concern was how to change not only ourselves, but our world! In order to change our world—and she confidently quoted her mother—“never doubt that a small group of people can change the world.” Mary Catherine Bateson explained further what may be included in what is experienced as “evolutionary development. Above all, though simple in words and admittedly demanding in action, is the first requirement, the need to be “observant participants” with the kind of joyful participation we see in children, all their senses open and alive to learning something new and then bringing it to Mommy so she too can see!
Observe. Judge.  Act.

The Apostles were observant participants! Having learned from Jesus a new way to be and do, they excitedly and wholeheartedly spread out to share the Message around a Mediterranean world!

Likewise, the American Revolution attests to the same required process that resulted in the wisdom of learning together, sharing ideas, perhaps modifying them and finally with—yes!—a spiritual foundation, spreading out to help form our democracy!

How, then, might we individually change our confusing and confused world?  What do I observe? Read? Believe? With whom do I ally myself? When was the last time I affirmed, disagreed with or promoted the status quo?

“Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world!”

Renee Domeier, OSB

Monday, September 11, 2017

Black Folk Religion: God as a Liberating God

I keep recognizing how much other cultures have to teach me.  A recent confirmation of that happened when I listened to an interview by Krista Tippet with Ruby Sales, civil rights veteran and public theologian. [“on Being”, August 17, 2017].  It helped me again acknowledge how many persons of color continually put their lives on the line to move social justice into the foreground of our awareness.  Ruby, who grew up on black folk religion, described her concept of black folk religion this way.

(Photo submitted by Martha Maloney)
“When I talk about Black Folk Religion I’m talking about a religion that came out of ordinary people during enslavement in the fields of America. We saw ourselves as a Beloved Community. It meant that we wanted to have justice because we loved everybody in our hearts.  Our songs were about God as a liberating God.” Ruby came to recognize and embody what God-justice, God-talk, God-love, and God-right-relations looked and felt like as the words rang in her ears.


Is it possible that the lyrics of these traditional black folk songs might help save America from itself by giving us a Beloved-Community-vocabulary in our time?


Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What does a Forever Commitment Mean?

Have you ever wondered how a commitment will stick for some people and not for others? Well here is a simple story about a lifelong commitment. When my two nieces were married last year, I was able to witness the marriage commitment of all the married couples who attended the reception. During the reception, the Disc Jockey began what he called, “The anniversary dance." After he invited all the married couples to the dance floor, the music started. When he called out a number that matched the number years they had been married they had to leave the dance floor. Of course, the first couple to walk away was the newly married. It was fun to watch and celebrate with each couple as they walked away. The count began with one year, three years, five years, seven years, ten years and fifteen years. Slowly he got up to fifty years, fifty-five years, and at this point, the only two couples on the dance floor were the grandparents of the newly married couple. At sixty years, only one couple was dancing, my parents. The count continued, sixty-one, sixty-two, he finally asked, “How long have you been married?” Everyone in my family called out “Sixty-four years.” At which the DJ responded, “I have never had a couple on the dance floor that long.”

(Tamra Thomas, OSB, Perpetual Profession, July 11, 2017
Photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB)
So what does forever mean to you? At Saint Benedict’s Monastery, we make our forever commitment on our profession day. If you would like more information about our monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB