Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lord, help me to see!

          This year we have a summer garden, replete with the usual tomatoes, zucchini, carrots (in 5 colors!), herbs and peppers. Our most widespread and productive plants are the pickle cucumbers. Over the three weeks I’ve picked 30 or more a day, ranging in size from 3 to 5 inches long. Every once in a while I find a few that are a bit longer. This morning after I’d been up and down the tangled area twice I found one about the size of a butter squash! 
          I walked for some time saying to myself and others, “How did I miss something that large, right under my nose and close to my finger tips?”Next I wondered, “In any given day, what else do I miss?” This brought back memories of the time when I was struck by a car that I didn’t see coming. I was constantly asked why I didn’t see it. I’ve tried to answer the why many times.
          Tonight I’ve concluded that I’ll keep trying to answer the why questions, but I will put more effort into seeing—seeing who or what is right in front of me. 

         Lord, help me to see!    Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


          I have just retired from 50+ years of teaching. I loved my work but I knew it was time to say good-bye while my dignity was still somewhat intact! Little did I realize what a bushel basket full of emotions would ensue. When the first person  said “congratulations”, I was dumbstruck. 
          Now I can say “thank you” and be gracious about it.I do have more time to just “be” and that is awesome. But I know that retirement does not mean sitting around eating the proverbial bonbons. When asked, I usually say my new title is “help-as-needed”.  This past week, July 17, I got hit between the eyeballs by the story of Moses and a short commentary.  Moses approaches the burning bush and God tells him something like “I have heard the cry of the Israelites held in captivity.” Moses is probably thinking “Great! Now God will do something.”  Lo and behold, God turns it around and tells Moses he is the one who will be sent to free the people. Oh, my!!! But God also promises to be with Moses for the duration. 
          I am reminded and inspired by the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict. Among many things we are told that every time we begin a new work, we must pray to God to bring it to perfection. Secondly whatever we do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord. Also we have many good gifts given us by God. So with a deep breath, fervent prayer, knowledge of God’s presence and my many blessings, I embrace the unknown future. And I ask your prayers as well.

Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Grateful Heart

     I am not sure of the reason but especially in recent summers my awareness of a grateful heart has grown. And, this summer I am particularly grateful. 
     For the past ten years I have had the privilege of meeting weekly with men and women who are coping with a cancer and all that this diagnosis entails. Many in the group relate experiencing a desire to be with others who are going through similar experiences. In time individual concerns are expressed, group connections are made, bonds are formed, and community is created.
     In listening to them I experience a deeper appreciation for the preciousness of life and its fragility, being mindful of the beauty of each day and endeavoring then not to get caught up in the small stuff of life. Listening to their statements similar to “it is ironical but cancer taught me how to live;” or “if I hadn’t got cancer I don’t believe that I would have reconciled with my daughter;” or “I don’t take anything for granted” and “I try to live a full life as much as possible, and make every moment count” has had a deep impact in my life.
      With deepening awareness and commitment, I try to put into action each day what this group practices and Galen Guengeriich recommends “Breathe a prayer of gratitude. And give those you love an extra measure of affection. Life is fleeting and love is precious. Cherish both.”  
     Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Friday, July 12, 2013

St. Benedict—Feast July 11

St. Benedict (480 AD-547AD) lived in Italy. He was born in a town called Norcia (sometimes spelled Nursia), a village high in the mountains of northeast Rome. His parents were wealthy and sent him to Rome for classical studies but he found life in Rome too degenerate. He went to place southeast of Rome, called Subiaco, where he lived as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was looked after by a monk named Romanus.
               A group of monks discovered Benedict and asked him to be their spiritual leader. He agreed. The monks did not like his leadership in the monastery and they tried to poison him. When he went to drink the poisoned wine, he blessed it and the cup broke into pieces. Benedict left this monastery and began his own monastery in Subiaco. He eventually established twelve monasteries.
               In 529 he moved to Montecassino about 80 miles southeast of Rome and built a monastery there. It was here that he wrote the Rule for Benedictines. St. Benedict is called the “the Father of Western Monasticisim.
               St. Benedict’s rule speaks of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work). This is what identifies Bendict’s community. The prayer is the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) and the work is manual labor. The “Opus Dei” is a name for the “work of God” and this refers to the Divine Office.
               St. Benedict had a twin sister, St. Scholastica, who founded a community of women religious near St. Benedict’s monastery.
               St. Benedict’s Rule is practiced today by Benedictines all over the world. He died in 547 while standing in prayer. You might say that he died as he lived because he lived a life of continuous prayer!
               He has two feastdays: July 11 (the date celebrated by the Universal Church) and March 21 (an additional date celebrated by Benedictines). He is also called the Father of Western Europe.
      Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lectio Divina

       “Lectio Divina” or Holy Reading is a very early monastic practice. When I entered St. Walburg monastery in 1952, Lectio Divina was called “spiritual reading” and referred to a particular part of the daily schedule i.e., a half-hour in late afternoon. During that time an older Sister read from a spiritual book aloud in the community room/library to the whole community. Meantime, the hearers darned socks or embroidered or just listened. (At the time I thought the hand sewing was advocated so we wouldn’t fall asleep.) 
       Communal morning meditation was another daily spiritual exercise at 5:00 a.m. in chapel. It consisted of a Sister’s reading aloud from a spiritual book after which each Sister would meditate in silence for a half-hour. Quite a challenge for postulants! During my later years in community my perception and experiences of these two separate activities changed. As I studied and worked in various ministries I tried to integrate reading and meditation because both had the same goal, namely, love. 
       Recently I read a quote attributed to Dom Columba Marmion, 1858-1923, an eminent spiritual guide, author and the third Abbot of Maredsous Abbey, Belgium. The quote is: “Read under the eye of God until the heart is touched, then give yourself up to love.” These words really resonate with my daily exercise of lectio/meditation to open my mind and heart to the Word of God in scripture, liturgy, life experiences and conversation with Christ. It is indeed the prayer of holy reading under the eye of God which makes all the difference in my life of love. Sr. Martha Walther, OSB