Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Think about it

         In our infirmary on the nurses’ desk, there is a small blackboard which has a new saying every day. This one caught my eye. “Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.” My immediate thought was, “The first word in the Rule of Benedict is ‘listen.’” Later I thought, “The Rule has a chapter on silence.” Finally, I thought, “This would be a good topic for my upcoming blog.”
          I believe it was Carl Jung, the noted psychologist, who said, “People pay $100.00 an hour just to have someone listen to them.” To be a good listener we must give our full attention to the one speaking. That is, we must silence all the voices inside and out. We ought not to be planning dinner menu for the next day or what we will say when the person is finished talking or what have to do at the office the next day. It takes discipline to be attentive and to recognize and still our inner voices.
          At worship and at prayer it is necessary to have inner silence to be present and active. Again, from experience we know how difficult it is to still the inner voices that keep from listening and participating. We have to let go and keep returning to the inner silence. (One writer says that he makes distraction part of his prayer.
          Even to enjoy fully a spring day we need to be inwardly still so that we can hear the sounds around: the birds singing, the branches swaying and the crickets doing whatever it is that they do!
          Regarding our relationship with God, Scripture says simply, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

          Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it. 
          Sr. Justina Franxman, OSB

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Death, Separation, Process, New Life

       On a recent sunny afternoon I took a leisurely walk to our cemetery. There I found the recently cut down remains of some very old, tall, ash trees infected and killed by the emerald ash borer.The huge sections of the tree trunks were waiting to be hauled from the cemetery hillside. I pondered the sight of the Sisters’ graves with the large sections of trees scattered among them. The life circles in each immense piece of tree trunk seemed to epitomize the circles of gravestones on the hill. 
       The sight spoke to me of death and separation as well as process and new life.  I recalled memories of these departed Sisters and prayed for and to them. I also wondered about the future of those immense trunks. Might their wood be made into something beautiful or useful or even unique one day? Upon leaving the cemetery, I couldn’t help wishing that it would be so. 
                              Sr. Martha Walther, OSB  


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Verbs of Easter

Candles              The Candle          Music
    distribute        decorate                  tune
    hold                bless                       practice
    light                light                         chose
    share              incense                   reject
    illuminate        place                      download
    extinguish       revere                     remember
    store                store                      copy

Water               Night                      Bread        
   flow               rend                        raise
   pour               illuminate               knead
   bless              conquer                 shape
   circulate         banish                    rise
   symbolize      destroy                   bless
   sprinkle          sanctify                  break
   trickle             bless                      share
Word                 Voices                Movement    
    listen               lift                       direct
    speak              raise                   practice
    explain            soften                 explain
    practice           respond              question
    sing                 harmonize          facilitate
    chant               synchronize        bow
    pray                 whisper              cease
    interpret           exult                   rest
            Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Patron Saints


  The Easter Vigil will be this Saturday evening, April 4. Over several months I have been helping our parish RCIA candidates to prepare for celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion for the first time. One person has still not chosen a patron saint as is customary and, of course, that poses the question of, “Why does one need a patron saint?”
       We talked about having a friend who is with God and who can be a patron, a helper as we deal with the issues in life. That led to the group raising all the special and usual patronages: St. Jude for impossible causes,  St. Joseph for selling your house, St. Monica when you want your children to embrace their faith.  But afterwards, for myself I came to wonder “Who do I pray to?”  I love St. Dorothy, but need other voices to intercede for me too.
       What seems right for me is to ask the Holy Spirit and all those who love me to help me. The insight to address my prayer in this way was my Ash Wednesday grace I guess because I really meant what I was asking for – a change in my self, not something exterior. If you are like me, sometimes you pray for the grace to do something, but your whole self is not really “into it”. This feels like I am calling upon the whole Cloud of Witnesses to stand for me – in support and also to hold me to the task ahead. I think I’ll be paying more attention to the naming of Saints in the Litany at Easter Vigil this Saturday, because they are likely paying attention to me too. 

         Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Feast of the Annunciation

Sometimes I say it would be easier to write a blog if someone gave me a topic. Given today’s feast I feel a topic has been given to me, yet I have been in a dither. “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with Thee,” the angel Gabriel said to Mary. Such sacred words for reflection and spoken by an angel at that! Yet how often I have uttered them routinely over the years! Joan Chittister, quoting the ancient rabbis reminds us “The first time a thing occurs in nature (in life) it is called a miracle. Later it becomes natural and no attention is paid to it.” Lord, deliver us from allowing this to happen with the sacred events we ponder in Scripture and in our prayer life.
It is not likely in our personal experience that God speaks to us through an angel, but how else would Mary or anyone else understand or believe such news? What a wonder it is, however, that God does speaks to us. Do we not experience God communing with us through another person, a dream, or an event?  May we be filled with gratitude that all believers are filled with God’s grace even on a daily basis. Is not the angel’s message to Mary what may draw us to ask God’s grace and guidance throughout the day?
The Annunciation   Fra  Angelico 1343
“The Lord is with Thee.” The Lord is also with each of us! Pondering this grace, we may be sure that our every moment is blessed. God is with us in the Eucharist, in each person we encounter, in the air we breathe, in the environment we live. God, please grant us the grace to experience this in all we see and in all we touch, and in all of existence.
“Blessed art thou among women.” So true of Mary in her unique blessedness as the Mother of God. We, too, are blessed, so very blessed. Thank you God for saving us from the experience of so many women suffering from human trafficking, living in poverty, being persecuted for their belief in you, living in a refugee camp, or being denied refuge in the United States. How can we name all our blessings? May we remember to offer thanks to You every day.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Joseph, Model of Faithfulness

On Thursday, March 19, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph.When I think of St. Joseph, I am reminded of his faithfulness. This faithfulness was to God and to Jesus and Mary throughout his life.  He endured this faithfulness in spite of many hardships.

He had to find shelter for his family in Bethlehem, and he endured the flight into Egypt.  He sustained his family by his trade.Truly St. Joseph reflected the faithfulness of God in his life.

When I think of St. Joseph’s faithfulness, I am reminded of our vow of stability as Benedictines.  St. Joseph is a good model for us. Stability is faithfulness to our monastery and our life.  It is faithfulness to our work and duties that we have in our life.  It is faithfulness to our prayer and work as Benedictines, our Ora et Labora.

When I think of St. Joseph, I think also that he is a good model for families and that his virtues are needed today. As the Church reflects on the Synod on Families, St. Joseph is very relevant. St. Joseph, pray for us.

         Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Silence and Word

“A word is dead when it is said, some say
I say it just begins to live that day.” 
   Emily Dickinson

          Emily Dickenson, a master of words, would probably agree with St. Benedict’s advice that we should choose our words with care. Has anyone ever encouraged you: “Take heed of what you say”, or Speak from your heart”?  How many times have you heard, “A wise man (woman) is known by the fewness of his (her) words”?

          St. Benedict understood the power of words and of silence.  He lived three  years as a hermit before his journey moved him along a communal path.  He was well grounded in silence; silence that leads to awareness and deepens communion with God, with others.

          In chapter 4 of his Rule, he refers to speech: “Never give a hollow greeting of peace….speak the truth with heart and tongue” (RB 4 2:25, 28), and,”Do not grumble or speak ill of others.”(RB 4 39-40) And again, “Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech”.  (RB 4 51)

          In chapter 6, Benedict speaks of restraint.”I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue.” (Ps. 38)   He condemns vulgarity and gossip and malicious speech.  But more to the point here, he upholds an environment in the monastery conducive to seeking God.

          In community, we know that it takes deliberate times of brief or prolonged practice to walk in the silence that leads to awareness.  This third week of lent our communal  reflection topic is speech.   May the Word live on and flower in each and all of us as we continue our journey!     Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB