Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Feast of the Annunciation

Sometimes I say it would be easier to write a blog if someone gave me a topic. Given today’s feast I feel a topic has been given to me, yet I have been in a dither. “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with Thee,” the angel Gabriel said to Mary. Such sacred words for reflection and spoken by an angel at that! Yet how often I have uttered them routinely over the years! Joan Chittister, quoting the ancient rabbis reminds us “The first time a thing occurs in nature (in life) it is called a miracle. Later it becomes natural and no attention is paid to it.” Lord, deliver us from allowing this to happen with the sacred events we ponder in Scripture and in our prayer life.
It is not likely in our personal experience that God speaks to us through an angel, but how else would Mary or anyone else understand or believe such news? What a wonder it is, however, that God does speaks to us. Do we not experience God communing with us through another person, a dream, or an event?  May we be filled with gratitude that all believers are filled with God’s grace even on a daily basis. Is not the angel’s message to Mary what may draw us to ask God’s grace and guidance throughout the day?
The Annunciation   Fra  Angelico 1343
“The Lord is with Thee.” The Lord is also with each of us! Pondering this grace, we may be sure that our every moment is blessed. God is with us in the Eucharist, in each person we encounter, in the air we breathe, in the environment we live. God, please grant us the grace to experience this in all we see and in all we touch, and in all of existence.
“Blessed art thou among women.” So true of Mary in her unique blessedness as the Mother of God. We, too, are blessed, so very blessed. Thank you God for saving us from the experience of so many women suffering from human trafficking, living in poverty, being persecuted for their belief in you, living in a refugee camp, or being denied refuge in the United States. How can we name all our blessings? May we remember to offer thanks to You every day.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Joseph, Model of Faithfulness

On Thursday, March 19, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph.When I think of St. Joseph, I am reminded of his faithfulness. This faithfulness was to God and to Jesus and Mary throughout his life.  He endured this faithfulness in spite of many hardships.

He had to find shelter for his family in Bethlehem, and he endured the flight into Egypt.  He sustained his family by his trade.Truly St. Joseph reflected the faithfulness of God in his life.

When I think of St. Joseph’s faithfulness, I am reminded of our vow of stability as Benedictines.  St. Joseph is a good model for us. Stability is faithfulness to our monastery and our life.  It is faithfulness to our work and duties that we have in our life.  It is faithfulness to our prayer and work as Benedictines, our Ora et Labora.

When I think of St. Joseph, I think also that he is a good model for families and that his virtues are needed today. As the Church reflects on the Synod on Families, St. Joseph is very relevant. St. Joseph, pray for us.

         Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Silence and Word

“A word is dead when it is said, some say
I say it just begins to live that day.” 
   Emily Dickinson

          Emily Dickenson, a master of words, would probably agree with St. Benedict’s advice that we should choose our words with care. Has anyone ever encouraged you: “Take heed of what you say”, or Speak from your heart”?  How many times have you heard, “A wise man (woman) is known by the fewness of his (her) words”?

          St. Benedict understood the power of words and of silence.  He lived three  years as a hermit before his journey moved him along a communal path.  He was well grounded in silence; silence that leads to awareness and deepens communion with God, with others.

          In chapter 4 of his Rule, he refers to speech: “Never give a hollow greeting of peace….speak the truth with heart and tongue” (RB 4 2:25, 28), and,”Do not grumble or speak ill of others.”(RB 4 39-40) And again, “Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech”.  (RB 4 51)

          In chapter 6, Benedict speaks of restraint.”I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue.” (Ps. 38)   He condemns vulgarity and gossip and malicious speech.  But more to the point here, he upholds an environment in the monastery conducive to seeking God.

          In community, we know that it takes deliberate times of brief or prolonged practice to walk in the silence that leads to awareness.  This third week of lent our communal  reflection topic is speech.   May the Word live on and flower in each and all of us as we continue our journey!     Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude

       As yet another snow storm approaches I am trying mightily to maintain or hone my “attitude of gratitude.” 
        One of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings begins “i thank You God for most this amazing day…” I have always tried to keep that thought through the events of each day. I often continue the line in my mind with the other things for which I thank God. Some days it’s easier to do than others. 
       I had knee replacement surgery at the end of January and throughout my recovery I was always grateful for the nurses, aides, therapists and others who cared for me at the hospital but most especially in our infirmary. To know that I could get help when I needed it (or before I even knew I needed it) was a real blessing. For all those loving people I am forever thankful. 
       As my sister battles cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy, I have to work harder to be grateful. Seeing her suffering and the uncertainty of the outcomes of the severe treatments is teaching me that my gratitude must widen to include the difficult and sad. Knowing that there is a greater plan than my own gives me hope. I wish for only good times but try to be open to what happens now as well as what I hope for. 
       I encourage you to join me in saying, “i thank You God for most this amazing day” and …
       Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB