Thursday, January 22, 2015

Do YOU Hear the Call?

The Church’s liturgy, Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, this past Sunday was ALL about hearing a call.
  • Morning Prayer—we heard the call of Moses who answered, “Here I am.”
  •   First reading at Eucharist—the call of young Eli who responded, “Your servant is listening:.
  •  John’s Gospel—Jesus’ invitation his first followers to come and see. They came and called more to come.
  •  Evening Prayer—Paul urged us to consider our call.

     I was a bit defensive at the end of my morning lectio. I wanted God (and you too) to know that I did hear a call in my youth. Coming to experience Christ living among the members of our monastery and learning to serve others is the best decision I ever made. Reflecting on Paul’s urging to reconsider my call today, I say happily that I’d do it all over again. The marvel of being called didn't end on the day I entered. Thank God!  


PS: The community is hosting a "Listen Retreat for Single Women"weekend on February 27-March 1. Contact Sr. Cathy Bauer at 859-331-6324 or email her at for more information. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Volunteering at Mary Rose Mission

         Mary Rose Mission located in Florence, Kentucky does a wonderful and needed service—befriending and feeding the needy and hungry. Sr. Cathy Bauer who had already volunteered there invited me to accompany her in early September. At the time Mary Rose Mission served evening dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. My visit on Tuesday, September 2, was for me a new, rich, informative and realistic experience. A grateful 119 adults and 20 children were served dinner by a devoted group of steady volunteers—teens to retirees-between the hours of 4;)0 to 6:00 pm. An opening prayer welcomed early arrivals and a closing prayer after the departure of guests and cleanup ended the meeting. My assigned job was EXIT. That meant I engaged guests in a bit a conversation and asked if they had any special prayer requests after they dined and were headed for the door. My responsibilities began a bit later than some of the others so at my post at the door, I was able to watch the other volunteers carrying trays, clearing tables, helping the elderly, and washing trays. All was done steadily but leisurely, one at a time, in groups or family units of all kinds. This was my heart warming, heart moving first experience at the Mary Rose Mission. I learned much about our guests and their concerns and needs—two long pages worth—and this were the intercessions at our closing prayer. I had a “new” experience at this “old” time of my life. I looked into the faces of the homeless, the desperate young, the lonely old, young families and handicapped—all children of our God who had been fed and comforted. So far I have four visits to Mary Rose Mission. Sr. Rosemary McCormack joined Sr. Cathy and me in January. We will be going on the first Tuesdays of the month. Mary Rose Mission is adding Thursday as another serving day in January.
 Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

For more information on Mary Rose Mission or to volunteer there, go to

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Following a Star: Epiphany, graveside, and beyond

        It was a cold Jan. afternoon as we stood around the open grave. A periodic wind carried the words of the Hebrew Kiddush as it persuaded onlookers to snuggle deeper into their coats. Most eyes were on the white, wooden coffin adorned with the Star of David and poised to be lowered into the ground.
       While I stood there, I became aware of the great diversity that love, history, and prayer were holding together. In the group there was blood mother and adoptive mother, connections broken and rebuilt.  There were believers and non-believers, Jews and Christians, relatives by blood and by legal agreement. There were those highly educated and those less so. This cluster of mourners, family, friends, acquaintances or strangers to each other, had been drawn together by Helen, the strong, diminutive woman to be buried, and her equally strong granddaughter, elegant in simple black. 
      In liturgy the day before, we had celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, and here I was, in the midst of another epiphany. Yesterday it was the magi crossing borders; today it was Helen’s family and friends. Once again love was reaching across boundaries to bring people together. It made me realize how often this happens in our daily life and how many times we don’t even recognize it, much less nurture it.
       There’s a lot about diversity in the news these days, usually focusing on how dissent brought about some kind of sadness or tragedy. Aren’t the stories about terrorism or transgender teens examples of differences leading to conflict? Then there are the personal, smaller differences on topics ranging from politics and religion to driving directions and TV choices.
       It’s safe to say these are common contentions, but do we ever look below their surface? When something is “obvious,” why doesn’t everyone agree?  On the other hand, how is it that we, who in our culture cherish individuality and independence, are surprised at a lack of unanimity on a topic? It’s as though our head tells us everyone’s different, but our daily expectations are grounded in the belief are that it is our “truths” and interpretations that count. How do we deal with this?
       The gospel writers quote Jesus in one place saying he came not to unite but to divide; in another place Jesus is praying that all be one as he and the Father are one. Early Christians had to struggle for unity through many interpretations of what Jesus asked of his followers. Today there are millions of people who worship one God while being at war over how it should be done. Apparently division is common and oneness is not easily achieved. Is community the ideal? What can we do to make it more real now? 
       Helen’s funeral gives us a clue. It was love that reached across all sorts of boundaries to bring a disparate group of relatives and strangers together.  It is love that enables a husband and wife or siblings to find the wisdom and patience to deal with differences. It is love in the form of respect and willingness to understand that can lead to tolerance, whether in families, cities, or nations. Then there are those moments where we see people reaching out to others. Take note each time; it is a holy gift. Sometimes there is an opportunity to honorably avoid conflict. Take it; this too is a holy gift. When we see political leaders trying to follow an elusive star that could make the world a better place, give thanks and support.                Two Jewish people, thousands of years apart, Jesus and Helen, give us epiphany clues for healing a broken world and celebrating the beauty of diversity. Like the magi, may we allow the diversities within and around us become a bridge for love and understanding that will lead us and others to wholeness.
                Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Have a Listening New Year

This time of year often feels bittersweet to me as I reflect on the experiences of the past year and celebrate the start of the New Year.  For me 2014 is marked by joyful moments, significant losses, acceptance and stretching of my limits, opportunity, grace and gratitude.  As I sit here and write I find myself both smiling and teary as the memories flash like pictures through my mind.  I find myself wondering where 2014 went and breathing a sigh of relief that it is done.
As 2015 starts I am abandoning my usual list of resolutions and am turning to Benedict whose first word in the Rule is “Listen.”  In seeking to listen, I hope to live with mindfulness and presence, not too far in the past or the future.  To listen carefully to God’s work in daily experiences, creation and the people whom I encounter.  I want to listen and be present so that I can savor the joy, experience gratitude and ride the waves of challenge.  I will listen my way into New Year and keep working at listening whatever 2015 may be bring.  Have a blessed and listening New Year!

                                      Sr. Kimberly Porter OSB

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Be the Tender Love of God

        The Gospel for Christmas Eve, the Benedictus, is a messianic, thanksgiving prayer, prayed by Zechariah at the birth of his son John the Baptist (Luke 1: 68-79). From the sixth century to this day the Benedictus is prayed daily by all who pray the Divine Office. Christmas Eve is a most apt time for this Gospel to be prayed for this is the time we praise God for delivering us from darkness and the shadow of death.
        Christmas celebrates the gift of God’s fullness to humanity. The promised, tender love of God dawns to life in the person of Jesus. He is the one who wipes away every tear and urges us to grow into the people God intends us to be.
A sung, translated version of the Benedictus by Bernadette Farrell’s verse five reads:
The tender love God promised from our birth is soon to dawn upon this shadowed earth, To shine on those whose sorrows seem to never cease, To guide our feet into the path of peace.
       The second part of this verse catches my attention. All over the world there are persons whose lives are filled with sorrows that persist and never cease.  Each time we sing this verse I am reminded of several women who have participated in my groups at prison. These women have identified with a horrific expression of “throw away people.”
       The first memory of one woman was literally being thrown in a trash can by her parents. Her story never got better. Reared in chaotic and often violent homes the sense of self-worth of these women was shattered from the beginning.  
       Though many of us have not experienced sorrows as deep as these women, most of us have known tragedy and wondered if and when we would recover. Christmas celebrates the dawning of a new day when the promised One will “deliver us from the land of gloom and guide our feet into the way of peace.” And, at the same time the Christ summons us to manifest the loving-kindness of God and reveal the Christ-light. We must speak his healing words, be his tender hands, and be his living compassion allowing it to “shine on those who sorrows seem to never cease.
      Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Wisdom

“O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, Who orde’rest all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.  Rejoice!  Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”- We sing in the famous Advent Hymn.
       Today, December 17, marks the beginning of the immediate preparations for the Feast of Christmas with the singing of the O Antiphons at Evening Prayer each of these 7 days. At this monastery we will chant a version translated by Sr. Colleen: 
“O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:
 come teach us to walk in the  paths of knowledge.”
       Who or what is wisdom, that we are calling on to COME?  “Wisdom” (Old English, witan, “to know”; Latin, videre, “to see”), is a gift of the Holy Spirit that, according to Catholic theology, is a special grace of the Spirit to help one practice virtue more perfectly.  Wisdom is a kind of knowledge in the sense that it allows one to understand God’s purposes and the divine will.
       In the Hebrew Scriptures, wisdom (a feminine noun) is God’s first creation (Sir 1:4) and is frequently associated with “fear of the Lord” – an expression that means reverence for the Lord
    .  In the New Testament, Paul identified Christ with God’s wisdom (1Cor 1:24) when he attempted to express Christian reliance on Christ crucified and to distinguish Christian faith from the empty wisdom of Greek learning.  Relating wisdom to God’s incarnate Word, as Paul does, and to divinity itself, as Sirach suggests, indicates that wisdom is not a human virtue or a skill that can be acquired through self-effort.  As the author of Proverbs put it, God gives birth to wisdom (8:22). While creatures can discover and understand valuable knowledge, wisdom always originates with the creator God.  (Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Richard Mc Brien, ed.)
“O Wisdom, who comes from the mouth of the Most High, reaching to the ends of the earth with tenderness and power, come and teach us the way of prudence.”
       In our Lectio time these days, let us create our own prayer to God each day, using these titles for Christ, as the symbols change in the big O on our Chapel banner:                                                                                     O Leader of the House of Israel….Come! 
O Root of Jesse….Come! 
O Key of David….Come!
O Radiant Dawn….Come! 
O Ruler of Nations….Come! 
O Emmanuel….Come!

                                                                                       Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Good News

Second Sunday of Advent: Gospel by Mark

       " As it is written in Isaiah......Behold I am sending my messenger ahead of you....
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
       WOW      Folks all around were coming to him and were baptized  in the Jordan river as they acknowledged their sins. But this prophet,John,  proclaimed to them. "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."  DOUBLE WOW !! !
                        THE GOOD NEWS of the LORD.

       Thomas Merton in his book, The Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, relates that all too often we get so used to hearing  the Scriptures read in Church that we classify them as " traditional theology" versus a startling current amazing news event  at which we perk up our ears and embrace this GOOD NEWS.

        During this Advent season, let us practice listening to the Scripture readings especially the Gospel. with renewed fervor and a WOWED hearing ear.
        Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB