Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Prism and the God-Light

During the quiet of summer, when the sun shines brightly on everything I look at, I keep wanting to find words to express the gratefulness I feel for the people and nature around me. The words of Rabbi Rami Shapiro, which I recently became familiar with [Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent: Sacred Teachings—Annotated & Explained (Skylight Paths Publishing: 2013) xvi.], seem to capture this gratefulness I feel at those moments.

Shapiro says that we can “practice shifting our awareness from a limited self-centered self to the infinite divine Self.” He concretizes this by providing a metaphor which describes this reality.  “Everything is a facet of the one thing. Think in terms of white light shining through a prism to reveal the full spectrum of color perceivable by the human eye: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each of these colors is part of the original whole and cannot be separated from it—turn off the light source and the colors disappear. Now apply this metaphor to the world around and within you. Everything you see, think, feel, and imagine is part of and never apart from the same Source.”

May the practiced shifts in our perception of what and who we see before us become a magnetic force that allows us to more readily recognize the unfolding and transforming God-Source-messages we receive each day.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Call to Holiness

Photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB

Our daily breaking news reports often invite despondency! And I? After too many minutes of angry responses, I turn to Pope Francis for his ability to see the bigger picture and to suggest ways to get back into balance:

  • "We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. Include the excluded and preach peace" (news.va, 9/24/2013).
  • "When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world" (World Day of the Sick, 2014).
  • "Be amazed, dear young people; let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. Be amazed at what is true and beautiful, what is of God" (via Twitter, 1/27/2014).
  • "...becoming acquainted with other people and other cultures is always good for us; it makes us grow. And why does this happen? It is because if we isolate ourselves, we have only what we have; we cannot develop culturally, but if we seek out other people, other cultures, their ways of thinking, other religions, we go out of ourselves and start that most beautiful adventure which is called dialogue...This dialogue is what creates peace. It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue" (Address to junior high students, Tokyo, 7/21/2013).
  • "There is no fruitful work without the Cross. We do not know what will happen to us, but there will be a cross, and we need to ask for the grace not to flee when it comes" (Morning Meditation 9/28/2013).

How do we identify ourselves when asked? Pope Francis, in his recently published Gaudete et Exsultate, exhorts us to hear our call to holiness in this modern world. He is deeply indebted to incarnational spirituality and theology; i.e. God is alive everywhere and lives in everyone and it is in the Beatitudes that we have our "calling" or "identity card!" Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure of heart; blessed are those who hunger for justice, etc. Can we be not only "blessed," but also "happy" in following these directives? The Gospels are about the abundance of life; they challenge us, no doubt about that! But they are also farsighted, insightful, interdependent, complex and yes, increasingly under threat here in our common home (Laudato Si, 2015). But we are not alone! St. Paul also gives me lively motivation to work with my bit of personhood; "Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?" (1 Corinthians 5:6). I need only give my little bit! Finally, Senator Cory Booker says it in ten two-lettered words: “If it is to be, it is up to me!” (On Being.org, 7/29/2018).

So, how can I sit around and mope??

Renée Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Overcoming Obstacles

Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB

Pope Francis can’t be beat! Recently, he traveled to Krakow, Poland, to participate in the World Youth Gathering, with upwards of 1 million people. It was a Sunday when he addressed the gathering and the Gospel was that of Zaccheus (Lk 19: 1-10). We remember, of course, this Roman tax collector of ill repute who exploited the people; he is a persona non grata in our minds. He was short of stature, full of unprofessed shame and yet he wanted to see Jesus and so climbed a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus as he passed by. But to his utter amazement, Jesus saw Zaccheus, called him down from his lofty heights and asked if he could come to his home.

That can happen to you, too, Pope Francis said to the youth. It can happen all of a sudden, in a moment, or gradually, when two hearts somehow meet one another. But Zaccheus had to overcome some obstacles in meeting Jesus, just as any of us—young or older—need to assess and overcome our own personal obstacles. There are three such obstacles which Pope Francis addressed with reference to Zaccheus and to most of us.

First, smallness of stature. How many of us don’t feel worthy to approach Jesus or do not realize how much Jesus loves and counts on us for who we are: precious and beloved children of God. That is our real stature. He waits for us to come to Him as we are!

The second obstacle to overcome in our meeting Jesus is the paralysis of shame. Zaccheus was a public figure, a man of power. He knew that in climbing a tree, he’d become the laughingstock to all. Yet as Pope Francis said, "Zaccheus mastered his shame because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful." The Holy Father's advice to the youth was: "Don’t be afraid to say YES to Jesus with all your hearts...and say a firm NO to the narcotic of success at any cost and to the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort."

The third obstacle that Zaccheus had to overcome in his coming to Jesus was the grumbling of the crowd, the criticism and judgment of the crowd wondering why Jesus wanted to dine in Zaccheus’ house. To the youth, Pope Francis said "People may judge you to be a dreamer because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between people, one that refuses to see borders as barriers. Don’t be discouraged. With a smile and open arms, proclaim hope, be a blessing for our one human family which here you represent so beautifully!"

Jesus wants to stay at our homes, too, dwell in our daily lives of studies, friendships, hopes and dreams. "Take all of these to Him in prayer. Don’t forget the encounter you have had with God here these days. He wanted you to be here and has come to meet you. Now walk with Him, talk with Him." And Jesus would surely say: "Be My beloved son and daughter—whether young or older, rich or poor, popular or living in the shadows, Catholic or of another religion. I am calling YOU. We can be great friends and do great things together!"

Thank you, our dearly beloved Pope Francis! You can’t be beat!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It Was A Miracle

"Mary and Jesus Surrounded by Angels"
Painting by Thomas Carey, OSB

Earlier this spring, I was driving to a meeting in St. Cloud. It is our custom at the monastery to pray for safe travel whenever we get into a car, so my travel companion said a spontaneous prayer to give us a safe journey, adding "may the angels protect us." As I turned onto a side street, I noticed two cars parked alongside the curb and two adults visiting and slowed down a little more. All of a sudden, a toddler appeared. She starting walking into the middle of the street, right into my path. As I braked, the car came to a complete stop, and there we were with a child ten feet in front of the car. Feelings arose from within me: anger, frustration, fear and shock. I honked the horn and she stopped walking and looked at the car. One of the adults, turning around and seeing what was happening, came and picked the child up. I drove on thinking to myself "What just happened?" and said a prayer of thanks. Later on, as I told the incident to others and replayed it in my mind, I thought, "Only God could have stopped the car in time," and I realized the angels we had prayed for had a bubble around the little girl and a bubble around the car. In my mind and heart, we witnessed a miracle and a child was saved. Next time you get into your car, remember to pray for a safe trip as we do at the monastery, asking the angels to protect you.

If you would like more information about our monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB