Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Heart-Healthy Hugs

I got to wondering about the etymology of the term "hug." I found out the origins of the word are not known, but there are two theories about its origin. One used in the 1560s relates it to the Old Norse word "hugga," which meant to comfort. The other related it to the German word "hegen," which meant to foster or cherish, originally meant to enclose with a hedge. Both of those origins seem to have layers of meaning. To comfort, cherish and surround with safety seem to be needed at all ages. Research shows that well-hugged babies are less stressed as adults and elderly who feel lonely can feel less so by being hugged.

In certain parts of the world, the hug includes both the left-side and right-side hug and even one more for good measure. Somehow, the left-and-right-hug has a unique quality about it that appeals to me. The left-side hug is definitely sufficient, but when the right side is added, it includes a heart-to-heart connection. I call that a whole-hug.  

Today, when I walked around the corner, I found myself face-to-face with a friend. I automatically opened my arms as though inviting a hug. She immediately responded with a gentle hug. Then, I heard myself acknowledge, "My heart isn’t in a good space right now, so I needed that." That was a not-so-subtle code for "I’m a bit upset at the moment." I could feel my tension decrease a bit. I guess there’s a scientific basis for that. According to health research, hugs increase oxytocin and reduce blood pressure [BBC News. August 8, 2005].

May 2018 bring all of us an extra dose of heart-health in its many forms.


Sister Miriam Ardolf (left) hugs Prioress Sister Susan
Rudolph on her installation day. (Photo: Andra Johnson)

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Search for Peace

The monastery's "Peace Pole"
I can’t stop reading what Pope Francis, via Fr. Rosica, sends out to me almost daily! He speaks and writes a dangerous message to those of us who desire to be followers of Jesus Christ, and yet, his message is full of direction on HOW to fulfill not only God’s desire, but ours for PEACE ON EARTH! On January 1, the 51st World Day of Peace, his topic was “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace.” He wishes PEACE to all people and nations on earth! The peace which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds on Christmas night, the peace all of us long for, especially those who most keenly suffer its absence: the 150 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees, men and women, children, young and elderly, who are searching for somewhere to live in peace!

Pope Francis begs us, in a spirit of compassion, to embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands. But, how do we SHOW compassion concretely? It is not sufficient to simply have ‘bleeding hearts’ for the disadvantaged; they need concrete commitment! Again, Pope Francis answers that question saying: “Offering asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace they seek requires a strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.”

Welcoming, he writes, “calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people towards countries where they face persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights. Scripture reminds us that in showing hospitality to strangers, we may be showing hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebr. 13:2).” No easy task, but an outstanding possibility!

“Protecting involves the recognition and defense of the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security. He writes: “I think in particular of women and children who find themselves in situations that expose them to risks and abuses that can even amount to enslavement. God does not discriminate: He watches over the foreigner and sustains the orphan and the widow (Psalm 146:9).” If we were in their shoes, what would be our needs?


Promoting” entails our enabling the migrants and refugees to cultivate and realize their potential through education, learning English, being in dialogue with them, assuring them and ourselves that God “loves the foreigner residing among us,” giving them food and clothing, loving them as we recall that “we, too, were once foreigners (Deut. 10:18-19).” If not I, then my ancestors of yesteryear sought a home in this lovely country!


Integratingmeans both giving of our life blood and receiving the life skills and gifts of the other! We need to recognize the process of mutual enrichment and fruitful cooperation within our local communities when we are able to acknowledge the beauty of human development, even when there are likenesses and differences among us! St. Paul expresses it in these words: “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people (Eph. 2:19).”


Pope Francis emphasizes the fact that all of us have but one home and she is called Mother Earth! Family life, of course, is not always easy nor peaceful, but where else do we go when we are broke, cold, lonely, sick, hungry? We search for home, for peace, for compassionate family traits somewhere on our Mother Earth. What do we/you consider our family traits?

Renée Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Different Kind of New Year Resolution


Happy New Year. Many people like to make New Year’s resolutions that may focus on physical health, such as a healthier diet or renewing an exercise program. In the past, my own resolutions have had this concentration. Recently I asked myself, “Have you ever considered a spiritual resolution?” “One that will encourage you to deepen your relationship with God.”  So with that idea in mind, during Advent, I started a spiritual renewal program for myself. I decided I wanted to grow in my awareness of God throughout my day, every day. In choosing to commit to a greater awareness of God, I had to learn how to pay attention to my normal daily activities. “When was I paying attention or not paying attention to God who was interacting with me through prayer, people, or a variety of events?”  Every evening during Advent, I would recall my day’s activities and look for where I sensed the presence of God. I would then write in my gratitude journal focusing on where I encountered God. This exercise also gave me the opportunity to thank God for His presence to me. Because I found it to be a growthful experience for me, I plan to continue my spiritual resolution throughout the year. If you would like more information about our community, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.