Wednesday, April 1, 2020

DIY Blog

As I remain monastery-bound for another indefinite period I thought I would give our readers a DIY task—make your own personal blog! Cop-out, you say? Maybe! I’m not proud!

Directions:  Complete the following statements.

1.      I am enjoying my time at home by…

2.      I especially like being with…

3.      I wonder what _________________ is doing now?

4.      I am sorry that I am missing…

5.      I wish I could…

6.      I hope that we…

7.      I am so grateful for…

8.      I pray for ________________ especially.

9.      When this “shelter in place” is over I hope…

10.  I believe that if we all do our part, we will…

God bless all our readers and all those who are working to make us safe and healthy.

                     Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Mary’s Fiat and Ours

     In a reflection on Mary’s fiat, Fr. James Martin S.J. states that “the feast has tremendous significance because it marks the very starting point of the incarnation.” I also think that its significance is reflected in the fact that it is celebrated daily around the world every time someone prays a Hail Mary or 53 of them while praying the rosary that recalls the Annunciation and all the mysteries in the life of Mary and her Son.  
     I found it delightful reflecting on today’s Gospel reading as I pondered how the call of God is reflected in the events of each one’s life. “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” We. too, know that God is with each of us.
     My reflection on this feast reminded me that God has a plan for every life and reveals it in some way. I became aware of this when my father died of a massive heart attack when he was 41 and I was 13. I immediately quit all my lessons in tap, toe, acrobats, ballet, drama and piano. My study to become a professional entertainer died the moment Dad died.
    I believe the Spirit fell upon my 8th grade teacher, Sr. Rita Kettman, O.S.B. when she heard that I was going to Holmes High School, and she called to tell me that she could arrange for me to go to Holy Cross High School for Parish tuition-- $3.00 per month. “Yes, we could afford that.”
     I loved all the Benedictine sisters who taught me in elementary school, and working so closely with them on school projects in high school, I loved and admired them all the more. In my junior year. the Spirit led me to consider a vocation to religious life and soon I knew that God was calling me, and I was sure. I praise God that now at 91 yrs. old, I am still very sure of my vocation.
     When reading Scripture stories and reflecting on how elements apply to my life, I am sometimes overwhelmed in the ways God has entered my life. On this feast I pray with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices with God my Savior.”

    Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Prayer for Unity & Deliverance

Divine Healer – God of Wisdom & Wonder,

Listen to your people who cry out to you.
Ignite the spark of new energy within us.
Help us to support one another,
with special care for our children, our poor, our elderly.

Protect our medical personnel, our emergency
workers, our extended communities and
your people around our planet-home.
Give wisdom to our leaders.

Come to our aid. Comfort the dying.
 Embrace the grieving.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Transform our hearts,
that our lives may gift others and give you praise.  Amen.  

                 Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB                 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Hope/New Life

What a weird winter this has been! Temperatures are above normal: snowflakes scarce, sunny days promise spring, worry that it’s too soon, rainy and dark days, kids playing outside with no coats. What does it mean --global warming?
At the time of my last blog (July 2019), we were sadly remembering the loss of our eight mighty oaks sheltering the sidewalk to our front entry. At that time I compared the remaining trunks to the tombstones of some of our Sisters, giants whose lives and work made lasting impressions in our lives and in the history of our community.
A few months later, there appeared eighteen young saplings planted out in front. Someday they will form two “groves”, nice shady places to talk, to welcome visitors. They’re twice my height and have a protective screen around their trunks to stop the hungry deer from stripping their bark. But – is it my imagination, or wishful thinking, that tiny red buds seem to be emerging from their young branches? A promise of new leaves! The first signs of daffodils, irises, and “Ghost” lilies are sprouting in all their regular places. I hear the timorous song of returning birds.
I think of Sr. Eileen making profession of first vows this past Saturday. And I think of one visitor in particular, a woman who expresses interest in joining us, and the hopes the two of them give us for new life in our community. The reading (Matthew 17:1-9) for that ceremony, included within first vespers for the second Sunday of Lent, spoke of the Transfiguration that the chosen apostles were privileged to witness. “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” It was all so appropriate.
Instead of Peter’s proposed tents, let us build a welcoming community for new members, and a heartfelt prayer of gratitude, as we come down from this mountain of exhilaration.

         Sr. Mary Carol Hellmann, OSB

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Things I didn’t use to like

1.         Red beets: Mom made Harvard beets, and we pretended the sauce was lipstick, but the beets were not a favorite. I was probably 60 before being introduced to root vegetables. Roasted root vegetables and even just roasted beets have ascended to a top spot.

2.         Bluegrass music: Definitely wasn’t on my playlist. But then around ten years ago Sr. Rita Bilz needed a driver to a Ralph Stanley concert. She watched out of the corner of her eye to see my response. I was hooked. That was the beginning of many bluegrass band trips. I don’t think Rita ever heard a song she didn’t know.

3.         The Civil War: I went to Gettysburg once and crossed it off my to-do list. But I had noticed the quiet way people toured the battlefield. I went back a second time. Learned there was far more than killing and brutality to the war’s history and effects. Admitted my slim acquaintance with black history, the war’s cultural impact on women, differences between north and south, the roots of political strife and civil unrest. My education continues.

4.         Psalm 119: This psalm has 176 verses. In the Liturgy of the Hours it is always broken up into small sections and sprinkled among the hours. Because, as I once thought, it says the same thing over and over. Dear heaven, this ignorance is hard to admit in print. I am going to study it, to find out why it now has so much appeal for me, and after some work I will read what scholars say. In the meantime I will keep on praying it. And enjoying it.

         I am grateful to those who introduce the new, who open a door, who provide an experience that gives life in a surprising way. Jesus says he is the Gate. Then Jesus must be present in the cook who served the red beets, Sr. Rita who took a chance on a classical music lover, camping friends who’ve traveled from Gettysburg to Appomattox, and the sisters with whom I pray Psalm 119. Their gates are standing open.

                          Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

This time, oh God, change our hearts and thoughts

Have you ever felt stuck in your Lenten practices? Attempts that didn’t lead to a change of heart and ongoing conversion? Several years back I came across a very interesting Lenten resolution written by Keith Bierraum. One “Lent I gave up my right to be offended and to take offense. Every day, practically every hour, I blundered my way into realizing how much time, effort and energy is take up with defending myself and exacting whatever retribution is most easily available. I have given too much energy on feeling wronged or feeling righteous toward anyone who has let me down or disagreed with me. This led to letting go of my right to be correct and to correct others because I am right. What a relief.”

Though exacting retribution seems way out of the ordinary (or is it?), I believe Keith’s resolution is a worthy consideration. My experience suggests that most/many of us know firsthand what he is saying.  Much of life’s precious time can be swallowed up in feeling offended and nursing past hurts which leads to destruction of one’s quality of life and absorbs too many thoughts. Awareness, humility, discipline and above all prayer become the ingredients for shedding the need to hold the grudge.
After pondering Keith’s experience, I am reminded of Luke’s parable of cleaning the house to get rid of one devil only to have seven more return to the empty house. (Luke11: 24 -25) In the decision not to take offense at remarks deemed hurtful or mean, it is of import to decide how to “replace” the time spent resenting, bemoaning or begrudging etc. with open hearted prayer, and engagement in behaviors that promote well-being and growth.  The Church’s ancient plea to Lenten discipline calls us to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These praxis offers specific help to the seeker. All three offer opportunities to go out of self for the sake of deepening one’s relationship with God and God’s people. Think about what a beautiful world this could be if we nurtured and practiced forgiveness and loving-kindness.

Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Look at Benedictine Community Life

Community members are rooted in Christ by the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio.

Religious Life is a call to living in community. It is a day-to-day encounter with one’s sisters who have also answered the same call.

There are many personalities in community that we encounter day to day.  How do we relate to each other?  We learn very quickly what each person likes or dislikes. We try to promote the likes and minimize the dislikes. (This produces harmony.)

Religious life is a blend of talents or gifts that we share.  Each of us have certain gifts that enhance or compliment community. A few are good at planning liturgies, some have good singing voices
some are artists, others are good at baking or cooking, a few are good at moving furniture or fixing broken objects. It is good that we are not all good at everything because it helps us to depend on each other. (It is good to feel wanted, this produces humility).

Community life is also celebration. We celebrate each other’s birthdays, feast days and some holidays and holy days. Community members love parties and we do have our share of these as well as scheduled or unscheduled card games.

Community life reaches out to help others either collectively or by each of one’s ministries, either internal (at the Monastery) or external (within the broader Church or service organizations) serving in various ways.

Benedictine ministry is very conscious of hospitality and stewardship and these values are part of our charism. A Benedictine Community is never lacking in guests.