Thursday, March 28, 2019



A little over three weeks ago, many heard these words: “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Thus began Lent.

What if you heard—

"Creator God, biblical poets tell us you fashioned us from the clay of the earth giving us life from your own breath. On Ash Wednesday, many hear ' dust you shall return,' let us begin to reflect what it means to be reduced to stardust which is smaller than clay, smaller than dust, but larger than life…"?

For almost 20 years, we leave church with glittering foreheads and a joyful anticipation of Lent. Of course, you don’t need glitter to have a joyful experience. Joy is more than laughter and being happy. However, since we have united the findings of science and biblical poetry, many persons talk about how Lent has changed for them because we use stardust as a starting point and not ashes.

“I don’t think of giving up something anymore. I ask myself what I can do for someone make their day shine.”

“It’s just a way for me to be aware that we are an Easter people.”

“Oh, I still need to repent but there’s a difference now. It’s more a half full glass.”

“At first I thought the earth was going to swallow me up for blasphemy but I know, I believe God loves what we’re doing. Glitter crosses on our foreheads—what a hoot!”

If you might be skeptical, please watch Rev. George Coyne, a Roman Catholic priest and scientist, tell us how upon physical death, we are reduced, not to dust, but to stardust.

Pat Pickett, OblSB

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Adult Coloring


When I first heard of “adult coloring,” I was intrigued because I remembered coloring as a fun activity from childhood. I liked doing it with others or by myself. My sister and I may even have had coloring contests. At the local craft store, I found tons of supplies. What did I want? I thought about crayons, but decided to go with colored pencils. I soon found out, however, that for my tastes, the colors were not bright enough. Again, I tried to engage my sister, but she brushed me off saying that she had passed the stage of coloring. I was not deterred, however, and went back to the store to see what else they might offer. Of course, they had books that were much more sophisticated, but what was more intriguing were the gel pens.

Ready for my new experience, I started coloring some mandalas. These designs gave me a sense of creating something more beautiful than just a simple picture. The designs came alive on the page, but even more so I became relaxed while doing them because I went into a sort of trance. Being totally absorbed in choosing colors, staying inside the lines and mixing and matching odd colors, I realized that the relaxation happened because the activity is totally and completely unrelated to my usual routine. I was definitely having fun, and yet I was not totally satisfied because in many ways, I was only doing a slight upgrade from childhood coloring.

Well, God never lets me down because almost immediately I met another Benedictine sister who told me about Bible journaling. No, it is not Bible study in the “old” way, but rather adding color and art to it! If you use the internet, you can find all sorts of possibilities until one suits you. However, I liked the idea of using an actual Bible, so I bought one and now am much more delighted when I have colored a design or picture on the extended page beside Psalm 139, while I whisper my favorite line from it: “Oh, Lord, you know me, and you love me.”

Now, I am meditating in a much more satisfying way.

Mary Jane Berger, OSB

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Touch of Spring

Photo: Karen Streveler, OSB

At this point when our calendars mark the spring equinox, the skies are emptying out lots of of snow upon Mother Earth. I also received an email entitled "A Touch of Spring" with the subtitle, "We're all ready for a bit of spring." I love snow, but this time the irony was more than I could resist. I was delighted, opened the attachment and found an interactive piece before me.

Using the mouse, I could click as often and wherever I chose on a completely black screen. Frankly, I went a bit wild! At one little click, I could present to the black screen a multitude of flowers, spring flowers. In a matter of seconds, I felt as if I were a creator of beauty. Soon I had a veritable flower garden! Fresh spring green leaves and stems, sky-blue flowers, yellow daisies, bubble-like and graceful fronds, orange, purple, peach blossoms popped up wherever I chose to place them. Some were double-petaled, tall and proud; others bent over slightly, forming a graceful welcome to my eye. There were larger flowers, the size of a quarter, and tiny ones, the size of an earring. Sometimes there were different kinds of flowers rising out of the same stem. One was in the form of a cross; all the rest shouted out "New Life" or "Resurrection" or "Come alive; yes, YOU too!" There were even firecracker blossoms. If I stayed in the same spot on the screen and clicked multiple times at that spot, I marveled at the wonderful overlapping colors, textures and designs. Everything seemed to fit; everything was full of light.

A TOUCH OF SPRING? Oh yes! Yet there was more. For me, it was a reminder of how God must have delighted in creation...and still delights in that creation, every new season. It's no surprise, then, that God saw that it was good, that it was very good!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The LIGHT of God's Presence

Photo: Karen Streveler, OSB
Recently I read a commentary on how we can find God in our ordinary places. It made me think a bit about how often I see God among some of the persons I connect with every day. Many of us have been delighted to discover God in familiar or unexpected persons and places. It got me starting to think of what I might be invited to consider as a Lenten change of heart. I started going through the litany of Lenten possibilities: patience, listening quietly to criticism without retaliating or losing my temper, choosing time for kindness over being so task-oriented that I’m really am not available for a small gesture that might make a world of difference for one lonely person.

I realize that I’m more than a bit hesitant to honestly name one specific attitude or behavior which is “less than how I want it to be.” If I’m willing to do it, it likely needs more specificity about what the opposite behaviors/attitudes would concretely look like. That’s where the persons around me that possess those transformed behaviors/attitudes might give me a small road map for guiding my desire to change. I can keep watching for it in persons around me. After I’ve I see it, how much courage would it take to stop them soon after I’ve witnessed it to make a simple comment to them about what I saw and why that made a difference for me? Maybe each time I name that behavior/attitude in another, it will become more embodied in me. Then both me and the other person may have received more “LIGHT for the path” forward.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Final Judgement


Matthew 25:31-36 - The Final Judgement

This passage has always bugged me. Do you have any scripture passages like that? Actually, I very often find these have the most to offer, the most to help me see what I am blind to.

First off, there is the king who’s handing out harsh, clear-cut sentences, ruling from his throne like a cruel despot. Then there is the business of goats and sheep. I know I am more like an old goat than a sheep. Both the sheep and the goats are oblivious, like they’ve been sleepwalking. How could they, we have missed Christ among us? This is a parable. It is using figurative language to make a point: treat everyone as Christ. Be attentive to their needs. In doing this, we enter the kingdom of God. Treat everyone, even the “least,” especially them, as Christ. These are the ones we most likely overlook or take for granted: the clerk in the store, the neighbor who doesn’t act like a neighbor. Let’s give ourselves a wake-up call: “See Christ in everyone,” not just in those who are “important.” It is part of obedience, learning to hear and to heed Christ in the ordinariness of daily life with the most ordinary people. The more we listen to these “least,” the more we hear the call of Christ. This is how we “enter the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.” Enter the kingdom now!

Charles Preble, OblSB

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Indigenous Peoples Have It Right


The indigenous peoples have it right! Mother Earth has existed primarily to care for her multi-cultured inhabitants since the beginning of creation. But what has happened for centuries, and especially during our present decades and lifetime, must surely make her feel invisible, marginalized, abused, very weary of her children, incapable of continuing on and on, ad infinitum!

Our Creator God must also feel invisible, marginalized and overwhelmed with humankind’s lack of reverence, gratitude and reciprocal care of Mother Earth who has not only nurtured, given an abundance of life, air, riches, beauty beyond measure, but who is misunderstood, used up and abused without mercy!

If we are overwhelmed by images that break our hearts, situations that seem unredeemable, how must Mother Earth, Mother and Father God bear the pain of such knowledge in the light of their  infinite love? A popular song of many years ago keeps singing in my head. Do you remember it? Please sing with me: 

“Where have all the flowers gone/ long time passing...? When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?”

Renée Domeier, OSB

Thursday, March 7, 2019

St. Luke, My Superhero

The Gospel of Luke has never resonated with me as have Matthew, Mark and John. Yet, hearing it again at Mass the Gospel of Luke (6:27-38) sparked a flame that led to a fire in my soul. It caused great reflection in me. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus provides His Father’s expectations for us to be His followers. I decided these expectations are not for the spiritually weak.

One expectation Jesus spoke of is “ your enemies and do good to them, and lend, expecting nothing back…”. How many of us worry about high returns on our money in today’s world? This seems to be an opposite view of the capitalistic theme in our society, don’t you think?

Then, Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…”. Is this God fooling with us? Or how about this one: “Stop judging and you will not be judged.” How does He expect us to reach this high bar when judging others seems to be the order of the day in the world we live?

In this Gospel by Luke, Jesus spells out specifically what God wants in His followers and it stands in direct opposition to what much of the world around us practices. What does The Rule of St. Benedict offer to confront these confounding discrepancies? According to St. Benedict in Chapter 4 of the Rule, “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way, the love of Christ must come before all else.” Note it does not say “our” way of acting, it is a singular pronoun. That means “me.”

When the world around “me” beckons me to follow the easy path of injustice, self-indulgence, judging others and betraying core principles of the Gospel, it is up to “me” to go back to the teachings of the Rule of St. Benedict and the Gospel. All we need to know about walking the path of Jesus and being His follower is laid out for us. Both Luke and St. Benedict gave us the road map for eternal life. Easy? Not so much. We will fail and when we fail, we must be willing to “forgive,” forgive ourselves and others. Then, we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, as my Dad use to say, and continue on His path. Isn’t God’s wisdom greater than our own? Thank you, St. Luke, for the awakening.


Mary Baier, OblSB

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Welcome, Lent!

Photo: Nancy Bauer, OSB

As we move through the season of Lent, it’s interesting to remember how this season got its name. “Lent” comes from the old English-German word “lencten” which means "springtime." The hours of daylight are “lengthening.” It’s a time of renewal, of new beginnings. Lent lasts 40 days, reminiscent of the 40 years the people of Israel wandered in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. We’re also reminded of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert as he prepared for his saving ministry which brought redemption and new life to the human family. Lent is a time of preparation, new beginnings. Farmers begin to study the seed catalogs and plan their vegetable gardens. This is a time to welcome new life, to get a fresh start after a long, cold winter.
How can Lent be a time of renewal for us? We can spend quality time reflecting on the daily Scriptures and faithfully offering our prayers for the needs of the world. We can make use of opportunities to serve others, contributing to efforts to help those in need. Maybe we can drop in on a friend or relative who might enjoy a visit. Celebrating Lent can renew our faith and boost our joy as followers of Christ.   

Margaret Michaud, OSB

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Accountability to Prayer

A question recently posed to a group of people gathered for a discussion was, “Who holds you accountable to prayer?” My first response was, “I do.” As I continued to ponder this question, I realized how incomplete my first response was; I had only answered a portion of the question. I came to a better understanding that I am also held accountable to my community, to participate in our daily prayer as we gather to pray Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist every day; to be in the Oratory or chapel for community prayer is a sign of my presence to the other sisters. We are accountable to ourselves to be present, yet also to one another. Our community prayer is our foundation. The more I pondered the question of prayer, I realized prayer is more than our foundation; it is our way of life, a way of life that I have chosen to be part of. For me, it is this way of life that holds me faithful to my prayer. The scheduled time for private prayer or communal prayer is central for me. I cannot do it on my own. I appreciate the community of women who surround me every day with the same desire, the same accountability to prayer that I have.

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

Lisa Rose, OSB