Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Breaking of Bread

From a twelfth century author, name unknown:

"Their eyes were opened
   and they knew him  when he broke the bread."
By breaking understand the virtue of humility, by which Jesus
 -- even he who is the bread of life--
broke diminished, and emptied himself.
And by emptying himself he gave us knowledge of himself.

If you want to know him,
break yourself as he did.
because anyone who claims to abide in Christ ought to live as he lived.

Break yourself, then, by the labor of obedience,
        by the humiliation of repentance.
Bear in your body the marks of Jesus Christ
         by accepting the condition of a servant, not as someone superior.
And when you have emptied yourself,
         you too will know the Lord through the breaking of bread."

Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Struggling

         Recently, I acquired a job for which I feel unqualified. It isn't something that I CAN'T DO.It just takes much effort. So it's a challenge. No, it's a struggle.So where does that leave me?Struggling.Asking friends for a lot of help.    
        The struggle is not so much the point as the insight it's given me.
        All of my adult life I've been a teacher. I love teaching. I love being with young people of all ages.It has always been a thrill to see the expression on a student's face when he/she got the concept of the lesson. Some of course, got the point right away. Others struggled, perhaps even for a long time.
        My experience now is similar to the students who struggled.They, too, felt unqualified for the job. Looking back I question my patience as a teacher; my respect for each student. Just as I am relying on others' help to complete my job, I hope that I helped each student in his/her struggle. I'd like to think that I had patience with each child.I 'd like to think that I respected each child as a unique person.I'd like to think that I treated each student kindly. And, I'd like to think that I nurtured a confidence in each student  that assured that child that he/she could do the job.I hope "struggling" paid off for these young people.This is what I hope they remember.This is what I need to remember as I now struggle.
Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May and Big Changes

     May is always a fun and interesting month for me. Having been in education for 43 years, I've always enjoyed wrapping up the year and seeing the seniors graduate and move on to college and their future lives.
     This year has been somewhat different because I'll be leaving teaching for the job of treasurer of our Benedictine community. I've been working with our current treasurer, Sister Rose, for several years to prepare for this new position. It will be very different for me but I'm hoping to do a good job and learn even more as the year progresses.
     Yesterday the staff and students at Villa Madonna Academy surprised me with gifts and a brief program. I was totally shocked and touched by their generosity and creativity. I've spent 40 of the 43 years in education at Villa. Even though I'll be in a new position I plan to stay in close contact with the alumni and the Villa community. They have enriched my life for so many years; I can't imagine my life without them.
     For those of you who are experiencing big changes in your life, I now know what that's like. All I can say is that God is good and will always be with us. While we don't know what the changes will mean we know that we are not alone. Our friends, family, community and the Lord Jesus sustain us each day.
     God bless you summer and every day of your lives.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Running the Race with St. Benedict

Last Saturday was the 140th 
running of the Kentucky Derby. Nowhere does St. Benedict
mention the Derby  in the Benedictine Rule.

Of course not!
He wrote his Rule many centuries before the first running of the Kentucky Derby.

But on second thought, he did have some sense of an important race taking place.
He may not have had the “The Run for the Roses” in mind, but he surely wrote plenty
 about running a race and crossing the finish line.

Right In the very beginning of the Rule, in the Prologue, he has his monks at the starting gate
 biting at the bit.

He instructs them:
run -- while you have the light of life;
run  -- by doing good deeds;
 run -- and do now what will profit you forever;
 run --  with your hearts overflowing with
             the inexpressible delight of love.

Then he enlightens them on some of the tricks of the trade:
how to be aware of others in the race
            how to set the pace
how to avoid trouble spots
how to stay focused
how to stay in the race

Benedict doesn’t seem to care about who crosses the finish line first.
He just wants everyone to give their very best.

The only competition he really supports is found in
 Chapter 72 of the Rule:
Earnestly competing in obedience to one another
they should each try to be the first
 to show respect to the other.

Benedict awards no wreath of roses or claim to fame at the end of the race.
But he does promise that those who cross the finish line will know the

 inexpressible delight of love and will receive everlasting life.
      Sr. Betty Cahill, OSB