Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Advent Awaits

"Night of Silence," written and published by Daniel Kantor, is one of my favorite Advent hymns. Although often described as a Christmas carol when paired with "Silent Night," it was written for the Advent season. Daniel Kantor wrote the piece when he was a student at the University of St. Thomas in 1981 and explains the text “was inspired in part by the north woods of Wisconsin and the sparkle of freshly-fallen snow in the moonlight of a subzero winter’s night” (music.ihmbrooklyn.org).

This song deeply touches my heart because it describes the meaning of Advent in both music and words. One has only to listen to it and feel the depths of despair, darkness and a longing for light to lead us to hopefulness for the future. This is the season of Advent, waiting in the bone-chilling cold, darkness enveloping our souls, waiting…waiting for the dawn of a new day where we will fully share with God the joy of His promise, redemption through the birth of His Son.

As Christians, we know the story of our Savior’s birth, yet our seasonal church calendar causes us to remember again and again the darkness we live in without God’s mercy and promise of redemption with Christ’s birth. Advent is a time of self-reflection, anticipation of God’s promises. It reminds us of moving to the Light, God’s Light, where we will experience the timeless breath of His love with the gift of His only Son.

I hope you will listen to "Night of Silence" and "Silent Night" and find it as deeply meaningful as I have during the Advent weeks ahead. Wishing you Light in the darkness.

Mary Baier, OblSB

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Photo: Karen Streveler, OSB
You and I can probably name several people in our lives that seem to spontaneously give expression to gratefulness. When receiving a message or gesture of gratefulness from them, it exudes a not-so-subtle energy that reminds us of something or someone for whom we too are grateful. Sometimes we even act on that insight and sometimes it just doesn’t work out at the time. However, the power of that thankful gesture remains planted somewhere in our brain to be visited at another time or place. As a result, when future occasions for gratefulness arise within us, we actually might more readily pick up the phone, email access or, on unique occasions, actually find our dusty pen and writing material to send a card or letter to the person that awakened this gratefulness-space within us.

Recently, my family helped me celebrate the 60th anniversary of my monastic profession. One of their church friends had also heard about this, so she sent me a card. In it, she first commented on my celebration and then said what a delight in her life she felt to be able to regularly connect with my brother and sister-in-law. I wasn’t quite sure whether her comment about me or her comment about them was the greater gift. This friend probably has no idea how her consistent gracious words and actions affect other people. It seemed to personalize the recent comment of Heda Bejar who said, “The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose."

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monastics First and Foremost

Photo: Nancy Bauer, OSB

Have you ever wondered how a Benedictine monastery functions? Or what kind of person would choose to enter a monastic community when there are so many opportunities “in the world”? Or perhaps you ask what it means to be “in the world” but not “of it.” Indeed, who would find it reasonable to follow the bell calling one to prayer seven times a day, no matter what one must leave undone to traverse the farm or orchard, kitchen or scriptorium to pray for 15 minutes with the other cowled or coiffured members of the community? At St. Alcuin’s Monastery, there are Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline, a rhythm of prayer that necessarily intersperses the work and holy leisure of this 14th century horarium described in Penelope Wilcock’s 9-volume series entitled The Hawk and the Dove.

If Brother Robert chafes when he hears the 3 o'clock bell calling him and his 30 brother monks to prayer as yet another “interruption” that keeps him from finishing the harvest, it is understandable until his loving and kind Abbot John reminds him what Robert already knows: he is a monk first and then a farmer, or cook, or orchard caretaker, or calligrapher, or whatever other work any of his brother monks has been assigned.

These 31 monks are exquisitely described by Wilcock, each curiously individual, who in their human struggle to be faithful, bring one another into community—not easily, but humbly enough to keep on learning, changing, forgiving and being forgiven until faith and faithfulness make each individual an integral part of their beloved community, able to withstand idiosyncrasies and gradually to be stitched together with love. It takes willingness and courage to say “Yes” again and again and again...but that’s what makes St. Alcuin’s monastic community a “beloved community,” a treasure hidden in a vast field of 14th century England. Human frailty eventually mollifies into a blessed divinity and creates the full image of Christ.

You will love and learn from Penelope Wilcock’s The Hawk and the Dove! I finished my second reading of all 9 volumes. I may return to the library again soon; St. Alcuin’s Monastery describes a sense of belonging, of home, for me!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What Dad Taught Me

This past June, I attended a course at the Monastic Institute titled "Passions and Prayer." Through the course readings, lectures and discussions, I learned or was reminded of many liturgical signs that I have recently taken for granted. One liturgical sign that had a renewed impact on me was the Sign of the Cross. Learning once again that when one makes the sign of the cross, she/he is showing an act of their faith, I immediately remembered a memory of my dad as he was laying in his hospice bed. One day as I was sitting in the living room with him, he began making the sign of the cross, repeating the gesture many times. Every so often, he would seem to become stuck and begin again. He knew what he was doing; I simply watched and pondered what this could mean.

During his life, dad was a man of few words; however, in this simple profound gesture, he was teaching me what he believed; words were not necessary. For me, as an observer, he was demonstrating that his love of Jesus was strong. He was living his faith until his last breath, which came quietly in the morning hours on November 25, 2016. Dad has been gone for two years now, yet this lesson of faith continues to teach me.

If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose, director of vocations, at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Lisa Rose, OSB