Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Communion of saints

              The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality notes that “the wider communion of saints unites across the boundaries of time and space. This communion includes those at the margins as well as those in the mainstream of Christian Traditions.”
               The canonized saints as well as the unlisted saints make up a large canopy over us that strengthen and encourages us to create the path/way that can lead each of us individually to reach the full communion of saints within the Body of Christ. A uniting factor is an uncompromising commitment with a willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of reaching a perfect relationship with God within the communion of the Trinity.
               Some of the variety of Saints in October liturgies are:
               Oct. 1. St. Theresa of Lisieux who in 1873 wrote “I am only a very little soul who can only offer very little things to Our Lord.”
               Oct. 15. St. Theresa of Avila (1515) wrote volumes on the stages of prayer with a great sense of humor. Once her travelling carriage turned over and she fell into streams of muddy water, exclaiming to God; “How could you let this happen?” God replied, “This is how I treat my friends.” Her answer: “No wonder you have so few of them.”
               Oct. 17. St. Ignatius of Antioch (107) wrote on his way to Rome to be martyred by the being to beasts. “Let me be fodder for wild beasts if that is how I can get to God. I am God’s wheat and I am being ground by the teeth of wild beasts to make a pure loaf for Christ.”
               As we reflect upon these saints and many more, let remembere the Letter to the Hebrews 12:1ff. “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes on Jesus, the leader and perfection of faith.”
                              Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Prize

     Several weeks ago a group of sixth grade girls from a local Catholic school invited us to a Tea in honor of the Year for Women Religious in the Diocese of Covington. I was delighted with the idea. Someone asked, “Are you going?” I said, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
     A group of us, almost twenty, were welcomed by smiling girls happy to greet us. We were ushered into the school where we were greeted with more smiles and led to a spread of delicious cookies and drinks. After a while we were invited to play Bingo. The cards had autumn and Halloween designs. The callers were free spirited and unentangled by rigid rules. When one Sister said that her card did not have a pumpkin under B-6, the callers discussed the problem among themselves and announced that as long as we had a pumpkin on the card, it would count no matter which column it was in.
     The part of the game that touched most was the prize. When we got a bingo, one of the hosts would come to our table with a bag of candy. She would reach into the bag and take out one small, cellophane-wrapped green Jolly Rancher and graciously place it on our card. As the game and distribution of the prizes continued, I became more and touched by the simplicity of it all. I thought to myself, “No wonder God loves children.” I shared that thought with others as we left the Tea and the thought of it remains with me still.
     On Sunday, the day after the Tea, we heard St. Mark’s Gospel (chapter 10:14-15), “Let the children come to me … for the Kingdom belongs to such as these.” and “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” I kept the Jolly Rancher that I had won in a place where I could see it and remember.
     Sr. Justina Franxman

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn’s Gift

Of the four seasons,
some of us resonate most
 with autumn.

October!  With its final burst
 of nature’s color,
its cooling air-touch,
its brilliant clarity
in sun-rinsed days
and sparkling nights
that  make you  want to linger outdoors
to listen silently
to what it is
 that we are seeking 
 in all its fullness

until our restless hearts
are stilled,
 and with quiet gratitude
we can move on,
 graced into winter.

Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council

     My whole religious life has been lived in the milieu of the Second Vatican Council. I professed my vows 50 years ago in August, 1962. The opening session of the council was convened October 11th of the same year. Reading my well worn and highlighted copy of The Documents of Vatican II from 1966 still sets my heart on fire with the presence of the Holy Spirit in word and message. This anniversary of the council helps me to realize that the event and its resultant theology and guidance have powerfully permeated my life and ministry through all these years. I know that everyday and in every way, what happened at the council influenced me to be who I am today.
Here are a few of the highlighted texts in my copy of the documents:
  • “Christ is the light of all nations…. By her relationship with Christ, the Church is a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind.” Dogmatic Constitution on The Church #1
  • “For it is through the liturgy, especially the divine Eucharist, that the work of our redemption is exercised.” Constitution on The Sacred Liturgy # 2
  • “The Fathers and Doctors of the Church held this view, teaching that all men are obliged to come to the relief of the poor, and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. If a person is in extreme necessity, he has the right to take from the riches of others what he himself needs.” Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World # 69
  • “Government, therefore, ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the people and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare…. Religious bodies are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.” Declaration on Religious Freedom #4
     Join me in blessing God Who gave us more than we asked for or could have imagined through the wisdom of Second Vatican Council.
     Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Seasons of Monastic Life

          I love the changing seasons. There is a unique beauty in each of them. Autumn literally blew into our part of Kentucky on September 22. The trees have just begun to change color. The sky was a brilliant blue and the air had that autumn nip to it.  It’s time to start to get out the long sleeves and the warmer clothes.
          In Saint Benedict’s rule he allowed for the seasonal changes. As the hours of daylight increased or decreased, the daily schedule was adjusted. The monks were to pray and take their meals by daylight. Even the austere menu of two cooked dishes was enriched by a third dish of fresh fruits and vegetables in season. The monks also received clothing that took into account the variation in temperature. In Chapter 41 it says, “From Lent to Easter, Vespers (Evening Prayer) should be celebrated early enough so that there is no need for a lamp while eating, and that everything can be finished by daylight.”
          Saint Benedict also made special provisions for the young and the old --a kind of spring and autumn of life. This summer I spent seven weeks in our infirmary recuperating from foot surgery. I always knew that we were blessed with good people to work in our infirmary and our kitchen.  The nurses and aides tried their best to meet each individual sister’s needs. The kitchen staff supplied us with more than just two cooked dishes plus dessert. I was especially impressed by the high school and college age girls who aided during the summer. Their care and respect for each sister was genuine and delightful.They were a joy to have around.  Even on “bad days” the girls had a cheerful smile specially designed for that particular sister. They were truly a breath of spring awakening a smile from the sisters of autumn.
       Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB