Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Living the Eucharistic Readings, May through August

       I have become accustomed to using the Scripture readings for Eucharist as lectio divina. Although booklets are available, easily handled and most helpful, I prefer to start with my ancient well-used Bible. Often in the Eucharist readings, selected verses are joined with some large sections understandably omitted. But the reading is very clear and coherent. By first using my old Bible, I can get a bigger picture.
      With the Easter season ended and feast days having special readings, the Old Testament readings from June 28 until August 25 traveled through Genesis (13 readings), Exodus (13), Leviticus (2), Numbers (3), Joshua (20, Judges (3) and Ruth (1). They took me from Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt until Ruth’s movement with Naomi back to the land of promise. This year’s readings made a great tour of ancient places at ancient times to think about.
      The Gospel readings for these same days were from Matthew. Tightly adhering from day to day with few skipped passages, I could travel on a short time segment of Jesus’ earthly journey. Some days the first and second readings had a relatively common theme such as feeding the people. On August 3 St. Walburg Monastery celebrate golden and diamond jubilees—Srs. Sharon Portwood and Joan Gripshover (50), Sr. Mary Carol Hellmann (60). It was a true coincidence that the reading for that day was a description of the Jewish Jubilee Year with its almost unbelievable restoration of property, freedom and identity. During this time period I also had the opportunity to attend a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. A delightful experience with song and dance—and a bit of omission!
      Benedictines pray Liturgy of the Hours four times each day. Although this has been a part of my life for many years, lots of the psalms spoke to me a bit more loudly each day as they recalled the blessings, trials, struggles, sins of God’s people that had been proclaimed in the daily readings.
      On Monday of this we began the letters of St. Paul in the Eucharistic readings, continuing with the Gospel of Matthew. My reflection on the first reading will necessitate a bit of reorientation.

     Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Formative Phrases

          Recently we had a community gathering where we discussed a bumper sticker proclaiming Less judgment-- more curiosity. (A large part of the conversation was around whether the correct spelling of judgment was with or without an e after the g!)
Listening to the conversations about how to move from judgment to curiosity, I thought about the idea of “formative phrases” and that prompted me to reflect upon the other “formative phrases” in my life.
       I am aware of a number of formative phrases in my life. Of course, St. Benedict’s Listen with the ear of your heart and Prefer nothing to the love of Christ are two of the most important in my monastic life as well as many passages from Scripture. But the five that bound forward almost without thinking about it are the ones below:
       Lord help me to remember nothing will happen to me today that You and I cannot handle together. This was a consoling and helpful phrase at a time in my life when I wasn’t sure I could handle life. I’m not sure who the original author was but I have it on a plaque that attributes it to Thomas Merton.
       You not God as we think you
       Furnace of silence
       Difficult friend.
This is a phrase in a litany type prayer by Huub Oosterhuis from the book Your Word is Near. Oosterhuis' prayer style and phraseology have had a strong impact on my own prayer style.
       Live your questions now and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along someday into your answers. Rainer Marie Rilke
       For surely I know the plans I have for you, says God, plans for your welfare … to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29: 11  Even though I can never remember the exact chapter and verse, this phrase has given me hope and comfort.
       I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. Anne Lamott I'm still reflecting on the mystery and truth of this.
      All of these phrases have sifted down into depths of my soul and formed me in my relationships with God and others. What are your formative phrases?
      Sr. Deborah Harmeling, OSB

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

To Really Hear

I often tell parents with whom I work that instructions need to be repeated three times before a child hears it once.  This summer it has become apparent to me that I too sometimes need to hear the same thing three (or more) times before it takes root.  In my experience, this is even more so when it comes to my relationship with God.
On three separate occasions in the past two months I have been reminded that God loves me, God is faithful and my task is to practice fidelity to the monastic way of life.  This I’ve lived and known but I heard it in a different way.  Why?
First, I had to step away from the busyness to even realize the clutter which needed to be cleared.  There is so much to see, hear and do that it becomes easy for me to lose my focus in small ways which accumulate.  Each time I heard “God loves you; God is faithful; and to practice fidelity to the monastic way of life” it penetrated deeper.  I heard the words with my ears, then in my thoughts and somewhere during the third time with the ear of my heart. 
Only then did I really hear and embrace in a new way what I have known…that which calls me to God and gives me the strength and courage to practice fidelity to the monastic way of life in community through prayer and work.  May we each find ways to really hear God’s love and faithfulness in our midst whatever our task.

Sr. Kimberly Porter OSB

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Guess Who's Here!

          We had a community retreat last week led by Sr. Karen Joseph, OSB, from our daughter house in Ferdinand, IN. A number of her quotes and phrases struck me. One of them was this: We are always guests in the house of the Lord. When I heard it, the first thing that popped into my mind is that here, in this community, in this monastery, I live in the house of the Lord. I am a perennial guest. 
          I let my mind wander about what this might mean.  Here are a few musings:
If this is God's house, then God is the host who sees to my needs and wants me to feel at home.
If this is God's house, then all of us here are guests; this adds another aspect to the complex realities
       of relating to each other.
If this is God's house, then nothing is really mine; it all belongs to God.
If this is God's house, everything here is holy and must be treated with reverence. 
          I was realizing how integrally all this relates to St. Paul's theology of our being the Body of Christ and how much it sounds like Benedict's Rule. Then my mind took another turn.  I realized that everywhere is God's house ... this city, this state, this earth, this cosmos. God is the universal host, and in every aspect of my life I am a guest. 
          Now, if I apply my earlier conjectures to this line of thinking, I come up with questions:
Does the way I use the earth and its gifts change if I see them as belonging to God?
Does this realization affect my perspective and responsibility re contemporary issue like government
      (local, state, national and international), ecology, economics, justice, etc., etc., etc.?
Do I have a different accountability to others if all of us equally are guests in God's house? 
          One realization emerging from these mental meanderings is that if everywhere is God's house and all of us are guests, I should be able to use this awareness to experience God in any place, time, or circumstance. This Host is all-embracing and always present in some way within me and in each person I meet. All of us are guests at the same "house party" because the Host who invited us loves each of us with equal intensity. 

          The challenge for me in all this: Within the people and situations I encounter, can I find elements of the divine love that brought us together? When I find people really difficult, does it help to remember that we are equal guests of God on this planet? Will it help me to remember that in no circumstance will I have to guess who's there with me? It should. God the Host has welcomed me. I am here! God is here!
          Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB