Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thankfulness Born of Tears

          My brother has been an invalid for 20 years. During this time he has been able to feed himself with his one good hand and walk from room to room with a walker. His family worked out a schedule and helped him with all other needs. His pain has led to depression and addiction to his pain medication. About two months ago he simply gave up and could no longer feed himself, walk from one room to another, or even want to try. All he could do was scream for the pain medication. 
          His “residence” has changed from Christ Hospital to Drake Care Center, where he made minimal progress. Currently he is at Mt. Washington Care Center. When I visit him, it is difficult not to burst into tears and run from the room. How painful it was to see my only brother so very clear in mind and so totally helpless in body. I managed to contain the tears until I got back to the monastery and let the tears flow. 
          Having visited him several times, I no longer feel depressed but am filled with gratitude. I thank and praised God that I can get out of bed by myself, stand up, walk, and take a refreshing shower. I experience deep gratitude that I can get my hand to my mouth to enjoy a cup of coffee. I feel truly alive, positive and take nothing for granted. There is a new pleasure in going down the steps to chapel to pray with the community. I am shocked that I have taken for granted so many of God’s gifts. When I ironed the linens used for Eucharist yesterday, I praised and thanked God for my ability to iron for the Lord. I asked God to open my eyes and grace me with a moment to moment gratitude for God’s overwhelming goodness to me in my senior years. I ask the Lord that this grace of gratitude may be ongoing. I made a mental picture of a poster that reads, “Live with an attitude of gratitude.”Then I wrote that quote on my heart.
        Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

John the Bapist (Feast: June 24)

John the Baptist bearing witness
(ca. 1600-1602) by Annibale
        What was John the Baptist like? How many years did he spend “in the wilderness”? The gospels say he grew and became strong in spirit living in the wilderness until he appeared publicly. The locusts, wild honey, and camel’s hair garments suggest one who lived simply, from the land, as he listened to the Holy Spirit with whom he was filled at his birth.
       John spoke convincingly enough to have followers who believed his message. He does not seem to have lacked courage, “proclaiming the good news with many exhortations”. Even Herod liked to listen to him.
       The angel Gabriel described Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son as having the spirit and power of Elijah, as being the prophet who will turn many to the Lord and make straight the way. Yet John is not filled with his own importance, but declares “He must increase; I must decrease. I am not worthy to untie his sandal.” Courageous, charismatic, humble.
       In the wilderness the word of God came to him. He was to speak the word for a short time only. Jean DaniĆ©lou says that “He had first to be gripped completely by an interior vision and possessed inwardly by the Lord…in such a way that [the word] can be handed on to others.” Let us pray to be gripped by that same spirit, so as to hand on that same word.    
       Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The End of a Perfect Day

          A couple of weeks ago I entertained the members of Mother of God Parish RCIA Team at St. Mary’s, the small house where I live on the St.Walburg Monastery grounds. As all events go that have a good bit of preparation, I had a lot of details to take care of. I believe my guests had a good time, we enjoyed our friendship, conversation and food. The weather was perfect, the cats well behaved. As I cleaned up after everyone else had departed, I was satisfied – with the party, with life, with myself. The phrase my grandmother frequently used to say came to me: “The End of a Perfect Day”.
          I am not sure that I ever used those words before. And, naturally, with them, Granny came to mind and I had a bit of a one-way conversation with her. What was her criteria for having a perfect day? She really seemed to have a lot of them. Maybe the good days and the good friends and the good times seem more perfect and more precious when you get older or wiser, or come to appreciate that all is God’s gift. Lately, I have been reviewing my days through what may be Granny’s criteria, and I am finding that I use my grandmother’s expression a lot more.
         Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


          Spring is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Each year I have waited and watched for the first violet and the first daffodil. This spring, however, something changed. It was the grass that caught and held my attention. I stood in front of our monastery and looked around in amazement and delight at the greenness of the grass. I don’t remember ever having seen it look so green. When I casually mentioned that to a friend she gave me a book about St. Hildegard of Bingen, a highly gifted and holy Benedictine woman who lived in the twelfth century. 
           One of Hildegard’s terms may have given a name to what I was sensing. For greenness she uses the Latin word viriditas which is a dynamic and energetic word. According to Hildegard this viriditas enters into the very fabric of the universe. The world in the height of the spring season is filled with it. Even “the smallest twig on the most insignificant tree is animated with viriditas.” (God breathed the breath of viriditas into Adam and Eve, of course, but that is subject for another blog!) Finally, Hildegard writes, it is the sun that brings the life of viriditas into the world. That thought is beautiful to me and immediately my mind transfers “the sun” into “the Son”. 
            Our monastery, like Hildegard’s, is enclosed by trees of all shapes and sizes and shades of green. All are rooted deeply, except for the newly planted saplings, in earth covered by a blanket of green. We sisters find it a blessing to gather in chapel four times daily to praise the Creator from whom all greenness comes.
        Sr. Justina Franxman, OSB