Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CirclingTthoughts from Lectio and Spiritual Reading

                 As I “move on in years” I find it more and more difficult to give recognition to the source of my thoughts—hopefully it s God! Each Lent/Easter season our faithful librarian places in convenient spots books, pamphlets, short articles to sign out or read in place. Unable to give particulars, the following are some rambling and unconnected thoughts which came to me from these materials and a few others during the Holy season leading to Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.
                With Bible readings in my daily lectio, particularly the Old Testament, I was very conscious of the One God as seen by the Jewish people and the prophets—the One God with the pervading promise of a Messiah, not clearly the Son. The birth of Jesus, son of Mary through the Holy Spirit, was the beginning of the concept of Trinity—mystery as it is—shown throughout the New Testament in the words and acts of Jesus from birth to death, resurrection and ascension and in the letters of the Apostles.
                Then after the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus we know that his body remained in the grave for three days. What was going on in those three days? I thought much about this after reading somewhere that Jesus doesn’t return to life but breaks through to a life nobody ever lived before, so different that it’s hard to describe or imaged. What happened in those three days? Jesus went to wherever those prophets, Jewish people, believers had gone awaiting salvation He opened the gates of heaven to these and to all of us who would follow hi. When I die, will all this become clear and open, all that happened before?
                I read that St. Faustina, a Polish saint, was favored by God with visions. In one she was told to have a picture of Jesus painted with the words, “Jesus, I trust in You.” After reading that, I then understood a picture I look at each morning. It is a picture of the wounded, glorified Jesus, bright rays flowing from the heart and the words “Jesus, I trust in you.”
                At our learning session about Islam I heard that Islamic history begins is Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the “sent away” wife of Abraham, marking the relationship between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Much food for thought in this relationship.
                God has created me for some special service. This I know that John Henry Newman said. It’s my mission—stick to it whatever and I will please God. Dismiss all anxiety from your mind. In prayer and thanksgiving present your petitions to God who will never forsake you.
               Circling thoughts cling to me from the blessed days of this past liturgical season. I appreciate Robert Wicks, Nathan Mitchell, J. H. Newman, Pope Francis, Michael Casey and the reflections in Word Among Us. Each day’s readings from these writers have helped me and many others in their journey of faith.

                                                Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Joys of May

       This is a crazy time of year in my world. It marks the end of the school year, and even though I retired from teaching last May, I still feel the excitement of graduation and all the celebrations that surround it. 
        At our sponsored school, Villa Madonna Academy, the excitement started with the junior-senior banquet two weeks ago and the prom.  Sunday was the Alumni Brunch with over 140 alums returning to campus to see old friends, former teachers, and to honor the Outstanding Alumni winners this year. In addition, Carole Lonneman, who has been the counselor for 50 years was honored. The 50-year and 25-year reunion classes were also feted. . It was quite a day! 
        High school graduation itself will be on May 22 at Mother of God church in Covington. It is always such a beautiful tribute to the graduates and their families. Seeing how much the graduates have grown in their four years of high school is amazing. Hearing of their many accomplishments and scholarships won makes all of us proud. The greatest joy for me, though, is hearing the speeches of the valedictorian and salutatorian(s). Invariably they cite the Benedictine values of hospitality, peace, community, prayer, stewardship and respect that form the foundation of their educational experience at Villa. Knowing that they are grounded in these values they will be able to move forward in their education and their careers, making a positive contribution to society. Educating the whole person, not just their intellect is a lofty goal, and it is edifying to hear that these students realize that is being accomplished in them.        
       I’m sure many of our readers will be celebrating with the graduates among their family and friends. May each of the graduates  be blessed as they continue their lifelong learning and growth.
       Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

10,000 steps and Loving One Another

This spring I have been making a concerted effort to increase my activities.  One way is by consciously tracking my steps.  My results vary from just meeting my goal of 10,000 steps a day to days of falling short or delightfully exceeding my goal.  It has created unexpected opportunities to connect in different ways with friends and family.  In being more mindful of my steps I have found myself increasing my activity, making different choices, and starting again each day.  I’ll come back to this in just a moment.
Since hearing the Gospel on Sunday, I keep coming back to Jesus’s commandment to the apostles then, and to us now, to “love one another.”   A commandment Jesus embodied in his living and his dying.  I find this commandment easy to follow when it involves people I want to serve or whose company I am glad to keep.  The challenge of loving another for me is in the moments of misunderstanding, differences, hurt, or challenge.  Those moments which I am called to sacrifice, to love beyond what I want or think I can.
In the midst of being overwhelmed by the implications of really living this commandment it occurred to me that it is done one step, one choice at a time.  It is the conscious choice to love another, to allow ourselves to sacrifice, and love beyond our perceived limits that leads us to embody this commandment.  It is the perseverance to keep working at it, not alone but all together. 
As we continue to celebrate this Year of Consecrated Life may we both within and outside the monastery walls continue to witness in our daily steps to this commandment to “love one another.”

Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I am the Vine, you are the Branches. Live in me as I live in you.

       Each year as we are presented with Jesus’ Word, identifying himself as the Vine, and our being united to Him as branches of the vine, I am reminded of a hoya plant that has been around our monastery well before I entered 60 years ago.
      Sr. Thomas Noll was the gardener extraordinaire in our community. She had started and tended the large hoya plant that lived in the bay-window of the prayer room at the Guest House forever, it seemed to me. Its dark green, waxy leaves were always green and strong. I never saw a dead leaf on it. The vines grew long, down to the floor and up again, round and round, on and on. It bloomed infrequently with the most beautiful pink beaded fragrant flower that oozes a honey like juice that the ants loved.  Sister would break off pieces for Sisters who were interested in starting one.
       I asked for a piece when I was asked to go to Harlan County as Pastoral Director at Holy Trinity Church in 1987. The start got roots, got planted and grew to be a big healthy plant that lived in the front room window of the prayer room of the Parish House for the years I was there, and I offered starts to others. I even took it to Church one Sunday in the Easter Season when this Gospel was read, as a prop for a reflection I was asked to give. I have continued to have a plant or two from that original plant with me wherever I have lived, and continue offering starts to others. Many of my friends and family now have one as well. Jesus the Vine lives on and on through us, the branches, giving life and joy to all.

       Last week when I was at the St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, NE, for a conference, I was fascinated with the collection of art work displayed throughout that wonderful conference/retreat center.The Missionary Benedictine Monks who built this center come from a German foundation, and have been all over the world.  One of the works that caught my attention, especially since we were preparing for this Gospel on Sunday, was this large Makonde Easter Candle Stand.  It was carved from mahogany by an artist of the Wamakonde Tribe of East Africa. Jesus is the Vine with all the other figures on this Tree of Life organically connected to Him. As I passed that statue on my way to chapel each time, I found it had become my special “Word” for Lectio during that week
           I am called to praise God for the gift of Life in Christ and to continue to remain in Him with all the others. Alleluia!
         Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB