Thursday, January 22, 2015

Do YOU Hear the Call?

The Church’s liturgy, Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, this past Sunday was ALL about hearing a call.
  • Morning Prayer—we heard the call of Moses who answered, “Here I am.”
  •   First reading at Eucharist—the call of young Eli who responded, “Your servant is listening:.
  •  John’s Gospel—Jesus’ invitation his first followers to come and see. They came and called more to come.
  •  Evening Prayer—Paul urged us to consider our call.

     I was a bit defensive at the end of my morning lectio. I wanted God (and you too) to know that I did hear a call in my youth. Coming to experience Christ living among the members of our monastery and learning to serve others is the best decision I ever made. Reflecting on Paul’s urging to reconsider my call today, I say happily that I’d do it all over again. The marvel of being called didn't end on the day I entered. Thank God!  


PS: The community is hosting a "Listen Retreat for Single Women"weekend on February 27-March 1. Contact Sr. Cathy Bauer at 859-331-6324 or email her at for more information. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Volunteering at Mary Rose Mission

         Mary Rose Mission located in Florence, Kentucky does a wonderful and needed service—befriending and feeding the needy and hungry. Sr. Cathy Bauer who had already volunteered there invited me to accompany her in early September. At the time Mary Rose Mission served evening dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. My visit on Tuesday, September 2, was for me a new, rich, informative and realistic experience. A grateful 119 adults and 20 children were served dinner by a devoted group of steady volunteers—teens to retirees-between the hours of 4;)0 to 6:00 pm. An opening prayer welcomed early arrivals and a closing prayer after the departure of guests and cleanup ended the meeting. My assigned job was EXIT. That meant I engaged guests in a bit a conversation and asked if they had any special prayer requests after they dined and were headed for the door. My responsibilities began a bit later than some of the others so at my post at the door, I was able to watch the other volunteers carrying trays, clearing tables, helping the elderly, and washing trays. All was done steadily but leisurely, one at a time, in groups or family units of all kinds. This was my heart warming, heart moving first experience at the Mary Rose Mission. I learned much about our guests and their concerns and needs—two long pages worth—and this were the intercessions at our closing prayer. I had a “new” experience at this “old” time of my life. I looked into the faces of the homeless, the desperate young, the lonely old, young families and handicapped—all children of our God who had been fed and comforted. So far I have four visits to Mary Rose Mission. Sr. Rosemary McCormack joined Sr. Cathy and me in January. We will be going on the first Tuesdays of the month. Mary Rose Mission is adding Thursday as another serving day in January.
 Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

For more information on Mary Rose Mission or to volunteer there, go to

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Following a Star: Epiphany, graveside, and beyond

        It was a cold Jan. afternoon as we stood around the open grave. A periodic wind carried the words of the Hebrew Kiddush as it persuaded onlookers to snuggle deeper into their coats. Most eyes were on the white, wooden coffin adorned with the Star of David and poised to be lowered into the ground.
       While I stood there, I became aware of the great diversity that love, history, and prayer were holding together. In the group there was blood mother and adoptive mother, connections broken and rebuilt.  There were believers and non-believers, Jews and Christians, relatives by blood and by legal agreement. There were those highly educated and those less so. This cluster of mourners, family, friends, acquaintances or strangers to each other, had been drawn together by Helen, the strong, diminutive woman to be buried, and her equally strong granddaughter, elegant in simple black. 
      In liturgy the day before, we had celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, and here I was, in the midst of another epiphany. Yesterday it was the magi crossing borders; today it was Helen’s family and friends. Once again love was reaching across boundaries to bring people together. It made me realize how often this happens in our daily life and how many times we don’t even recognize it, much less nurture it.
       There’s a lot about diversity in the news these days, usually focusing on how dissent brought about some kind of sadness or tragedy. Aren’t the stories about terrorism or transgender teens examples of differences leading to conflict? Then there are the personal, smaller differences on topics ranging from politics and religion to driving directions and TV choices.
       It’s safe to say these are common contentions, but do we ever look below their surface? When something is “obvious,” why doesn’t everyone agree?  On the other hand, how is it that we, who in our culture cherish individuality and independence, are surprised at a lack of unanimity on a topic? It’s as though our head tells us everyone’s different, but our daily expectations are grounded in the belief are that it is our “truths” and interpretations that count. How do we deal with this?
       The gospel writers quote Jesus in one place saying he came not to unite but to divide; in another place Jesus is praying that all be one as he and the Father are one. Early Christians had to struggle for unity through many interpretations of what Jesus asked of his followers. Today there are millions of people who worship one God while being at war over how it should be done. Apparently division is common and oneness is not easily achieved. Is community the ideal? What can we do to make it more real now? 
       Helen’s funeral gives us a clue. It was love that reached across all sorts of boundaries to bring a disparate group of relatives and strangers together.  It is love that enables a husband and wife or siblings to find the wisdom and patience to deal with differences. It is love in the form of respect and willingness to understand that can lead to tolerance, whether in families, cities, or nations. Then there are those moments where we see people reaching out to others. Take note each time; it is a holy gift. Sometimes there is an opportunity to honorably avoid conflict. Take it; this too is a holy gift. When we see political leaders trying to follow an elusive star that could make the world a better place, give thanks and support.                Two Jewish people, thousands of years apart, Jesus and Helen, give us epiphany clues for healing a broken world and celebrating the beauty of diversity. Like the magi, may we allow the diversities within and around us become a bridge for love and understanding that will lead us and others to wholeness.
                Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB