Thursday, January 24, 2019

Do You Remember Your First Confession?

Chicago. St. Xavier’s Academy. Grade 2. Sister Michon, R.S.M.

Having difficulty with the question of Original Sin, I wasn’t buying it that Jesus was sent to save everyone because Adam and Eve ate some dumb fruit off a tree. I dug my heels in. I wanted an answer.

My second grade teacher eventually sent me to the priest who would be our first confessor. He was a gentle man and kinda looked like how I pictured God. I remember saying, “I’ve committed a lot worse sins than Adam and Eve and God isn’t sending Jesus to save anybody!” He asked me what was so terrible. “I clonked Bobby on his head and broke my mom’s pearls cause I was mad at her.”

“Are you sorry?” I think I said, “Yes.” He asked me if he could say the Act of Contrition with me. Then, he asked if I knew what penances were (here it comes, I’m going to get a whole rosary). Of course, I knew what penances were. We’d been studying all that since Christmas!

“All right,” he said, “Go home, give your brother a hug and tell your mom you’re sorry.”

“That’s it? No Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s or Glory Be’s?”

The question about Original Sin has been a struggle all my life. Perhaps that’s why I became a scripture scholar. Reading Matthew Fox’s delightful, yet profound, book, Original Blessing, I discovered I was asking the wrong question. During this Ordinary time before Lent, treat yourself to this blessing!

Pat Pickett, OblSB

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Beyond Comprehension

I always said
That I would never get over it.
Such love!
To think that God would become human
And even die on the cross for us.
How utterly profound!

How wrenching, too, when humans suffer
Hundreds, adults, children.
Not in God’s plan.

So tangible
It makes me visualize
What God has done for us.

How can I fathom!
That same God I will one day see.
You love me so much.
How absolutely stunning!
How can I thank you, God!

Janet Thielges, OSB

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Toward A Hopeful Future


It’s this time of year, when we recognize that something is ending and something new is happening. In this time-space, it’s possible to more clearly recognize what hope is all about. If it’s true that “you can’t change the world from the rearview mirror” (Anita Roddick), then what will it take for us to invite ourselves into the future? 

There’s a certain advantage in having a rearview mirror. Honoring and nourishing our gifts and exploring and attending to our wounds can reveal strengths we never realized we had. We can choose to name both past qualities that have been life-sustaining, as well as those emerging from past wounds. Fortified with this recollection-data, our ever-growing inner strengths may become stronger, and our future choices may become more honest and realistic.

So, as we slowly recognize that we have an ever-opening teachable heart, it may be a bit easier to look out the front window at the next chapters of our life. We might even hear ourselves saying, “The older I get, the more like myself I become.” Who can’t love persons who are authentically themselves, warts and all? Allowing our “teachable heart” to grow sounds like a hopeful future to me.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Value Tree

The tree mural, painted by Kayla Gustin

Sister Ardella Kvamme now looks at a new scene outside her office at Saint Scholastica Convent. However, it’s not outside her window, but outside her door in the hallway! A mural has been painted by our wellness director, Kayla Gustin.

The scene is a beautiful tree that goes from floor to ceiling and has branches that are far reaching down the hallway. The painting is not only lovely, but also purposeful. The idea grew from an initial meeting of a committee formed to further integrate our mission and values at Saint Scholastica.

Throughout the year, we will use the tree to participate in various activities in which a Benedictine value will be featured alongside the tree. For starters, both sisters and staff were invited to complete a sentence starter that was printed on a paper apple and related to the featured value. Those apples were then hung on the tree.

This is a visible way we can further our mission where we live, and we will be able to see how those who work with us share the same values.

This blog was adapted from an article that appeared in the fall 2018 issue of Benedictine Sisters and Friends.

 Janelle Sietsema, OSB

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Artists at Work

Sister Patricia Ostrander painting a peacock

Did you know that there is an artist within each of us? Did you ever consider what might be the expression of an artist within yourself? It’s that special “extra” that touches the heart AFTER we have done the job of sculpting, painting, composing, washing tables, tending to the needs of a child, a client, a poor person, a colleague at the office, a guest at our restaurant or whatever may be our 8-to-4 job at the office or wherever we make money for livelihood. It’s that moment of eye contact, a smile, calling another by name or giving a  “thank you” when we didn’t need to do any of those extras! It’s that gracious handling of time or an object, that special something that goes beyond service rendered to touch the heart of another! Each of us is capable of touching the heart of another because each of us is equipped with an artist within ourselves longing to express itself!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Christ Child, A Refugee

"When the magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child and destroy him.'" Matthew 2:13

Photo: Laureen Virnig, OSB
The Holy Family was much like any other family. Mary and Joseph had just celebrated the birth of Jesus. How joyful it must have been when the wise men came to worship the Christ child, bringing gifts to celebrate His birth. Yet, as all families, this joy gave way to worry and fear. How did Joseph and Mary feel when they were directed by God’s angel to leave their homeland and escape with their small child to a land foreign to them? What is apparent in Matthew’s story is the fact the Holy Family became refugees. Christ, God’s son, was a refugee seeking asylum in a foreign land to avoid persecution.

How timely is Matthew’s biblical story today? As Benedictines and Christians, what does this story mean to us? For me, it prompts the following questions: As a Benedictine, do I recognize the plight of refugees? Am I able to see the “face of Christ” in all persons regardless of race, social backgrounds, religion or country of origin? Do I model Benedictine hospitality to those less fortunate than myself?

St. Benedict instructed in the Rule to to receive guests with charity and humility. Esther de Waal, a well-known Benedictine, asks us two essential questions: Did we see Christ in them? Did they see Christ in us? These are simple, yet profound, questions for us to ponder in this new year.

Yes, the Holy Family was much like all families. Life filled with joys, sorrows and challenges. Let us hope in the new year we, as Benedictines, live our values for the world to witness blessing our families with Christ’s truth and light.

Blessings in the new year.

Mary Baier, OblSB

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Labyrinth

I have had the opportunity to pray and walk a Labyrinth several times over the past 20 years. I love the journey or significance of walking into the center of the Labyrinth, into the center of my own personal prayer journey, into my heart. When walking the circular path in the silence of prayer and solitude, no words are needed. It is a very healing experience. The walk for me is a prayerful journey into the depth of my heart and my relationship with God.

My most recent labyrinth walk was in North Dakota, at Annunciation Monastery. The labyrinth was larger than any I had walked before. It was constructed of stones varying in size. This arrangement of stones made it a unique and beautiful path. As I entered the path, I was feeling a little anxious. I walked slowly, letting my feet guide me, allowing the experience of prayer to begin.

Arriving at the center, I sat down and looked around at the beautiful landscape of North Dakota. My prayer was simply the sound of the wind and silence. My daily prayer is usually a mixture of silence and words. The silent pause between each psalm at Liturgy of the Hours (LOH) is important. LOH is an important part of our daily prayer.

If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at

Lisa Rose, OSB