Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fifty Years of Monastic Profession

     On August 3, 2013 at St. Walburg Monastery, we celebrated Diamond and Golden Jubilees at Evening Prayer. Prior to the celebration, Sister Mary Catherine, Prioress, asked each of the jubilarians to reflect on 50 or 60 years spent living her profession in this Benedictine community. At the ceremony we were invited to share our reflections with all who were present at the celebration.
      The reading for Evening Prayer was Eph. 3: 14-21. This reading speaks of being firmly rooted and grounded in love so that we will be filled with the fullness of God.
      As one of the Golden Jubilarians I was led by Spirit to give testimony as below. I hope it gives you a glimpse into the power of living in this community in the School for the Lord’s Service as St. Benedict calls the monastery.
     As a senior at St. Henry High School in the spring of 1960, I attended a vocation retreat at Marydale Retreat House. Father Evanston, the director, asked each retreatant individually, “If Jesus stood before you today and asked to come, follow him as a religious sister, would you consider saying yes?” To this question I gave a resounding NO. Then on August 22, 1961, after hearing a persistent call to enter religious life by Jesus, I entered St. Walburg Monastery longing for God and stability and naively thinking to escape the trials of life.
     Today I stand before you knowing that I am deeply rooted and grounded in the love of Christ and in this amazing group of Christ-centered women whose lives, love and affirmative support through the years have provided the rich soil allowing this growth to occur. Our life in prayer, work and communal living heave bonded our lives firmly together in intertwined rootedness as we faithfully seek God together until we arrive together into the eternal kingdom of God.
     Without this rich soil I know I would have been too weak to answer if God said, “Today I set before you life and death. Choose.” Today I give a resounding YES to choosing to serve God anew in this Benedictine community.

            Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Praying for peace on 9/11

     As we mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania I am asking myself if anything has changed.
     In many ways we are still dealing with terrorism, worrying about terrorism and praying about terrorism. 
     On Saturday we at St. Walburg Monastery joined with Pope Francis and thousands of Christians to pray for a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria. We prayed for an end to violence and war. We prayed for a culture of cooperation, a culture of dialogue. We continue to pray that the first moves toward a peaceful removal of chemical weapons in Syria will occur. I am hopeful that yesterday's news that President Assad of Syria will end the chemical attacks will be true. It is a step--what can be considered a big step toward less violence and suffering. 
     We thank God that our prayers are being answered in this way. 
     Join us in our continued prayer for the victims and the perpetrators of terror. May God bring comfort to those who suffer and a change of heart to those who bring suffering to others.
     We can have peace. We pray we will have peace. 
      Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Do My Words Give Grace?

     Every other Friday at Night Prayer we hear this instruction from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 4:29  “Speak the truth to each other, for we are members of one another…. Speak only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”
     And each time I leave the Chapel with those words echoing in my mind and heart.  My words are to give grace to those who hear.  Grace is God’s life, to be passed on by my words.  How mindful am I of the words I speak? - so unmindful at times. 
     God’s Word spoke creation. God’s Word became one of us, and showed us how to live and die and rise again.   Jesus’ words definitely built up the human race again, giving us grace - His Life.  The last two days Luke gives us examples of Jesus’ words making a difference to those who heard him:
     Luke 4: 16-30 When Jesus read from the Scroll in the synagogue….”all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”
     Luke 4: 31-37 Jesus rebuked the unclean demon and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”  The people were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word?  For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and they come out. And news of him spread everywhere.” 
      Our work is to imitate Him – through our words, giving His Life to those who hear us.
St. Benedict, being aware of how ones speech can build up or tear down another, has some warnings in the Holy Rule calling us to be alert and responsible for what we say:
Ch. 4:28 “Speak the truth with heart and tongue.”  51 “Guard your lips from harmful and deceptive speech.”  Ch. 7:56 “The 9th step of Humility is that we are to control our tongue and remain silent unless asked a question.” And when at the Work of God he says in Ch. 19:7 “Let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our mouths are in harmony with our voices.”
     In the Psalms we hear other reminders of mindfulness in our thoughts and our speech:
Ps. 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, my rock and my redeemer.”  Ps. 139:4 “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord, you know the whole of it.” Ps. 49:2 “My mouth shall speak wisdom.”  Ps.106: 48 “Let all the people say, ‘Amen,’ Praise God.”

     Reflecting on this important instruction from St. Paul has helped me to be more alert and pray that my “words may give Grace to those who hear.”
       Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB