Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What a Litany!

       As the feast of All Saints was approaching, I wanted to think of a special way to celebrate it this year. The first thing that came to my mind was the Litany of Saints. I remembered hearing that litany at the annual Easter Vigil ever since I was in the seventh grade! 
     I discovered that the litany was used in Rome as far back as 590 and that it is one of only six litanies authorized by the Holy Sea for public services. An abbreviated form is used at infant baptisms. A longer form is used at the election of a New Pope, at the blessing of an abbot, the dedication of a Church and at some religious professions.
     As I read the Litany of Saints, I began to feel overwhelmed. I felt as if I was trying to count the stars in the universe or the sands on a sea shore. The litany includes three intercessions to Mary, and at least 50 saints are mentioned by name. Then saints are grouped into categories, e.g.,  all ye holy monks, holy priests and  levites, holy bishops and confessors, holy doctors, holy martyrs, holy virgins and widows, holy men and women, angels, archangels, apostles, evangelists, innocents, patriarchs and prophets. 
     After looking at all the categories listed, I realized that one of the categories includes all of us who strive to live a holy life and our holy deceased loved ones!
Only a graced and Spirit-filled author could compose such a comprehensive litany.
When I pray the litany I’m going to add the names of some holy people that are part of my life. I enjoy that idea, but I may need to pray the litany in parts. 
      Writing this post became a gift for me as I have never before experienced identifying  at such depth with the entire Communion of  Saints.
     Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Festivals of October

         The leaves are slow to turn this year, it seems. Taking a day off to meander about the commonwealth, we were graced by a beautiful day with deep blue skies and mostly green leaves. No frost yet should have been a clue. Scenic Byway Route 68 South brought us to Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, the site of one of the last battles of the American Revolution. Nearly 70 Kentuckians were killed by the British and Indian tribes in the 15 minute-battle on August 19, 1782. Kentucky was then part of Virginia.
         At my brother’s family’s recent Pumpkin Fest, I learned that one can watch a video of selected fireworks before purchasing. No doubt there are even reviews online. Tony’s firework finale was spectacular. While I was at Pumpkin Fest, the community was enjoying an Oktoberfest meal. No fireworks, but homemade pretzels and a variety of October-styled beer. 
         The theme for Halloween party costumes this year is “Art Masterpieces”. Prior years’ themes have been Old and New Testament characters, Benedictines throughout history, Disney characters, and Aesop fables. The party is a yearly display of creativity, humor and the ability to come up with something at the last minute. 

         One day soon there will be a frost followed by splendid leaves all about. If that day is also warm and sunny, we may seek out another scenic byway.
                        Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Religious Communities Against the Death Penalty

       Almost two decades ago Sister of Divine Providence Alice Gerdeman, now Director of Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cincinnati, approached me to begin a conversation that led to the loose association of those of us in vowed life who have active ministries in the state of Kentucky and who have a passion about justice and a felt responsibility to address the needless and merciless killing of people by legal execution.
      In 1996 we organized Religious Communities Against the Death Penalty to educate our own communities about capital punishment, to promote healing for victims and families and to pray with and for all those who are involved in carrying out the death sentence. On May 22, 1997, a little over 2 months before Harold McQueen was executed by the people of Kentucky we began was has become an almost yearly practice of visiting and praying with the men on death row at Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville KY.
       We are now planning for our 2013 Fall visit where we will pray and chat with the men from death row who will be coming to chapel where we usually gather in a group. Our conversations are always inspiring. We have come to know some of the men pretty well over these years as we recognize them as God’s children who have made horrible mistakes.
       We also hold the victims of murder and their families (cf: www.mvfr.org) in our hearts as we pray in the sure confidence that Jesus calls us all to assist in the process of reconciliation with one another.
I feel incredibly blessed to be involved in this ministry of support and reconciliation. It is amazing what a wonderful choice it has been for me to become a Benedictine sister because it is this vocational path that has brought me to this point.
                           Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sunshine and Shadows

Sunshine and Shadows
Green warmth of summer; crisp colors of autumn.
Mist rising on a Smoky Mountain morning;
Smog blanketing the Cincinnati skyline.

Six month old teasing with her smile;
Delighting her new parents.
Sweethearts nervous as they await
the celebration of their 75th wedding anniversary.
Single mom babysits by day, works at McDonalds by night.
Her five little ones hardly aware of why.
Kentucky Benedictines enjoy the hospitality of the Benedictines
who live in the backyard of the Windy City.
Teen-age girls work at the Monastery.
Some serve the meals; some gently tend the sick.
Ninety-eight year old dies, so filled with life;
Twenty-two year old dies, life too much.

Hawks screech on their perch;
then glide majestically on the thermals.
The scent of new mown hay; a favorite of my mother.
A soft breeze; the tinkling of the wind chime.
Zinnias color the garden; adorn the table.
The hum of life as heard;
from the country front porch.
Sights, sounds, scents that change with the seasons.

The anticipation of a wonderful gift fulfilled.
A smile and a wave; you’re okay!

Thank you, Lord, for another day.

Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB

Thursday, October 3, 2013


       As some local readers may know, there’s currently a lot of road work, with one-lane traffic in Cincinnati, and in this instance, on Liberty Street in Over the Rhine. As I sat at a red light last Friday, I saw a man and woman and behind them, a small, frail-looking lady pulling her hand cart, start across the wide street.  My eyes checked out the traffic up ahead, the pedestrians on the sidewalk and the nearby houses.  Glancing back at the crosswalk, I realized that the woman with the handcart had fallen to the ground in the construction lane.  At the same instant, I saw two people, one black, one white,  move toward the intersection.  The woman hurried out into the street before the man got to it. She was at the woman’s side as the light turned green.  As I stepped on the gas, I knew I had witnessed the Gospel in action.  And it made my heart sing. 
            Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB