Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Year’s End School Concert Reflection

Yes, God!
Yes, you live.
Yes, you live here and now in your children,
who radiate joy and almost glow especially
 in singing, “I see leaves of green, red roses, too ……..
What a wonderful world!” 
Afterwards, second graders ask: Why the tears, Sister?
They understand that I love their singing;
as does everyone in the audience.
They do not yet, of course, realize their real shining (Merton).
Some day, I hope they do.
Grace them and youth everywhere, O God, with the hope, courage, and all that they need to grow up
                     to live, love and help transform/bless the future for generations to come -
                                          That in all things God may be glorified!

Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mourning the Egyptians in Exodus 15

One particular Charles Schultz cartoon has remained with me through the years. Linus runs up to Charlie Brown, excited over a football game he has just seen. An unbelievable play with “just three seconds to go won the game for the home team. The fans went wild. They were so happy…hugging and rolling on the ground and screaming. It was fantastic!” Charlie Brown looks at Linus and asks in the final frame: “How did the other team feel?”

The other team in Exodus 15 are the Egyptians who have been cast into the sea.
At the Easter Vigil we sing with enthusiasm:
Let us sing to our God…gloriously triumphant.
Horse and chariot you have cast into the sea.
The floods closed over them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.

In the article “Remembering the Egyptians at the Easter Vigil” (Bible Today, Mar/Apr, 2017), Fr. Craig Morrison, OCarm explores the treatment of the oppressor in the Bible and the violence brought down on those who were not the home team. He cites the Jewish tradition of remembering at the Seder meal the suffering of the Egyptians. In the Talmud “the angels wanted to sing praise to God for the victory over the Egyptians. But God rebuked them, reminding them that the Egyptians are also creatures of God.”
I find it a revelation to do prayerful reading of scripture while being aware of my attitude toward the “other team”. During this year’s reading Pharaoh’s doubts came through to me, and I noticed that he asked of Moses: “Pray for me”. I could hope that a more wholesome attitude would carry over into other situations in which it is tempting to dismiss the “other team”.

Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jesus’ Sense of Humor

My favorite story in the New Testament involves two friends, grieving over the death of Jesus, and they are on their way to a nearby town, wondering how on earth could all these bad things have happened? They had such high hopes! And it ended in disaster, a horrible execution, the most vicious one that the occupying Romans could devise.Since most people traveled on foot in those days, it was not unusual for a friendly stranger going in the same direction to join them.
           The stranger was curious to know the news of the day, but the friends were amazed that he hadn’t heard, because it was big news! Even strangers would surely know, for so many travelers had come in for the big Passover celebration. However, they proceeded to tell him, as he questioned them further. He seemed pretty knowledgeable, quoting the prophets of the Old Testament that this was all meant to be; it was part of God’s plan. Who was this man? They were puzzled, yet they could feel a wonderful sense of joy welling up in them as he spoke.
   They approached the town, and were hungry. Surely the stranger was hungry as well, and would he join them for the meal? And it was during that meal that they suddenly realized Who He was, and at that moment He was gone! (Luke 24: 13-24)
I like to think of Jesus with a twinkle in His eyes as He lovingly questioned them on the Way, understanding their grief, caring about them and gently leading them on -  on to the Truth, giving them new Life as they shared the meal. Yes, He is indeed the Way the Truth and the Life! We can discover that for ourselves as we too welcome the stranger, share a meal, and learn what the poor have to teach us.
It seems to me that Jesus’ sense of humor showed up many times in His new resurrected life. He was enjoying it on every occasion, every encounter. He called her name, “Mary!” and she knew! No more tears for her; she had good news to tell and off she ran to do His bidding. (John20:11-18)                                     
To the apostles gathered together he surprises them with a spontaneous visit. They’re so scared he has to assure them: He’s real and he’s hungry! How about a little something to eat? Ghosts do not have a real body. They don’t need any food! (Luke 24:35-48)
He knew about Thomas’s declaration of a need for proof, and I can see Him teasing Thomas, “Come here and take a look, my friend. Now you can believe.” I wonder if Thomas was not only full of awe, but maybe even a little embarrassed, for he was not really scolded by his kind Master, just invited to come closer. (John 20:26-29)
And then there is another encounter with a stranger, fixing breakfast on the shore for the weary fishermen, who were up all night, with no results. How thoughtful of Him! (John 21:1-14)
              This Jesus is just so lovable, and He lives on in His resurrected life, inviting us to share the grief of others, to spread the good news, to feed the hungry, to find Him in so many ways as we practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. How many ways can we find Him today? He’s waiting, hiding, teasing us, daring us to come on and do it!

                                                  Sr. Mary Carol Hellmann, OSB

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring cleaning and the Rule of St. Benedict

          “ I put away my winter clothes this morning.  What a chore!” and “I cleaned the ceiling fan today.” These two comments made during lunch last week caused me to reminisce about good old fashion spring cleaning. Without coal furnaces and open windows, the emphasis is no longer so great. But some really old memories gave me cause for enjoyment. Helping my grandmother to put the lace curtains on the curtain stretcher was a treat.(Can you tell I was young?)  She only had two rugs that had to be taken outside, hung on the clothes line and beaten.(Thank God for more powerful vacuums and steam cleaning.)  My favorite was helping my parents to clean the coal dust from the wallpaper with this play-dough-type eraser. ( It was tricky to not leave stripes so I think we children probably got to do the wall behind the couch!)
          And then my brain jumped to the related wisdom as found in the Rule of St. Benedict. Some quotes follow.
  • ·         “regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar.” (Chapter 31)
  • ·         “ Whoever fails to keep the things belonging to the monastery clean or treats them carelessly should be reproved.”  (32)
  • ·         “The utensils required for the kitchen service are to be washed and returned intact” (Ch 35)
  • ·         “Idleness is the enemy of the soul.  Therefore the brothers should have specified periods of manual labor” (Ch 48)
  • ·         “additional help should be available when needed” (Ch 53)
  • ·         “a brother may be assigned a burdensome task. . .should he see that the weight of the burden is altogether too much. . .he should explain patiently . . . the reasons why he cannot perform the task” (Ch 68)
And one for the person exchanging clothing:
  • ·         “clothing distributed to the brothers should vary according to local conditions and climate. . . they are to wash it. . .(Ch 55)

Happy transition from winter to summer!

            Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reading Into the Abyss of Suffering

            The joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection followed an active and deeply appreciated Lent for me. Having celebrated these sacred ties many times in the past, I feel especially grateful in these my later years for this one! Shortly before Lent began, Rev. Kenneth Overberg, SJ gave us a day on the “Mystery of God and Suffering” which provided me with many new ideas. He also made available to us copies of his book Into  the Abyss of Suffering which became my special Lenten reading.
            This book is fascinating in its explanation of the different gospel representations of events  in the life of Jesus. Details in incidents in the four Gospels differ—more explanation given to some than to others. The basic truth Fr. Overberg emphasizes is that Jesus Christ became totally human in all things except sin. His suffering was part of his humanity. The gospels were written from a “post resurrection perspective” so that the things which the gospel writers witnessed were seen in different ways from different points of view. Our experience also influences the way we see the gospels in a special way. But reading the events of Jesus’ life in the gospels gives an appreciation of that writer’s experience. Mark was first to write, followed by Matthew and Luke and then John whose gospel is quite different.
            The book of Job was good reading to accompany Fr. Overberg’s thought and images and a help to understand the acceptance of suffering. Job is cited and seen as a real “sufferer” but I had a hard time with parts of the book—not the beginning and the end!
            Fr. Overberg’s book has only six chapers but each is full of new ideas to challenge the mind. I found myself doing more and more Scripture reading especially in trying to answer the questions he poses at the end of each chapter. I had to read chapter several times and had to work to get answers.
            Throughout Into the Abyss of Suffering there was much to think about and I shall continue to keep Fr. Overberg’s book at hand, food for heart and mind!

        Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Abandonment of God

          The Scripture readings for Palm Sunday set the tone for the Journey through Holy Week each year.  They are so powerful.   But the Word that struck me this year was the Psalm that was cantered so well by our Sr. Stella Gough. It was Tim Manion’s Ps. 22, “My God, My God,” 1984, OCP edition. 

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
                                           (repeated after each verse)
All who see me laugh at me.
They shake their heads,
they shake their heads.
You trusted in God;
let God deliver you,
deliver you, if God loves you.

Closely, now they press me ‘round,
and pierce me through,
they pierce me through.
You trusted in God;
let God deliver you,
deliver you, if God loves you.

All is taken, all is lost.
Be near, my help.
I trusted in God,
May God deliver me;
O deliver me as you love me.
I long to stand in the midst of your people,
and sing your name.
Give God your laud,
Cry out your praises,
and hold fast,
hold fast to your Lord.

        This is surely a Psalm that Jesus had prayed and sweated with as the time grew closer to his suffering and death. He knew Abba’s presence always. And after realizing his mission following his baptism and trials in the desert, the words of the Prophets and the Psalmists spoke to him more and more directly of what was in store for him.  How did Jesus cope with the feeling of “Abandonment by Abba,” expressed in this Psalm?  It could only be through his great love and trust in Abba, and knowing of Abba’s great love for him.  “May God deliver me, O deliver me as you love me.”  And because of that great love between Father and Son, in the Psalmist’s words, he calls us to “Give God our praises, and hold fast to our God.” 
        When the hard times come, this psalm can be my prayer to put myself in the hands of the one who loves me, loves everyone through the most difficult times - on to the Glory time.

Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB             

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Eyes of Christ

          During this Lenten season at the Monastery in our Liturgy of Hours readings, we have listened to Jeremiah the prophet. One day the reading from Jer. 5:21-23  “Pay attention to this foolish and senseless people who have eyes and see not, have ears and hear not” struck a chord within me sending me to search this farther in Scripture and readings.
          These readings focused on the eyes of Christ which sear into our very being. I have a wooden Icon hanging in my bedroom of Jesus Pantokrator based on the 13th century Serbian Hilander Monastery icon at Mt. Athos in Greece. It has been a stabilizing force in my life for many years .Gazing into these sad and beautiful eyes, especially when in distress, fills me with the depth of his love and intense compassion.
            The face of the Icon expresses the depth of God’s immense compassion in our chaotic world with an ever increasing violence and hatred among the adults and children of His family.
          As  this gaze persists reaching  into my heart and soul, that begging look is gently leading me to look  with a similar gaze into the eyes of each person I meet to see the Christ within this person in order to spread this merciful compassion and mercy.
          Remember also that Jesus said: “ To have seen me is to have seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am one in the Father and the Father in me. “
          Henri Nouwen throughout many of his books stresses that there is no longer any difference between Jesus and those He loves. We are part of the intimacy that Jesus shares within the communion of the Trinity.
          Now we must be ready to share this same love for all.

          Perhaps as we enter into the Holy Week mysteries, through scriptural imaging, we could place one’s self in each event as a participant and gaze into the eyes of Jesus and feel him gazing into yours. Notice that Jesus is not focusing on his suffering but on those around him.
                Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB