Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Pattern of a Vocation

The Pattern of a Vocation
First there is the Call!
Then the Discovery of the Call!
And finally the Response!
      In the Gospel for last Sunday, Mark (10:46-52) tells the story of Jesus on his final journey from Jericho to Jerusalem with his disciples. A blind man, Bartimaeus, sitting on the side of the road, hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth coming by, and cries out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stops and says, “Call him.” Then the disciples called to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”  He sprang up, throwing aside his cloak and came to Jesus. Jesus says to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Dear Teacher, I want to see.” Jesus tells him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he receives his sight and instead of going his way, he follows Jesus on His Way, becoming a disciple. 
     The story of Bartimaeus discovering his Call as a disciple of Jesus is so clear in this Gospel.
Each of us has a similar story of our call, our vocation.  
     On Sunday October 18, our Benedictine Oblates had the opportunity in our Reflection time, to consider their call to be an Oblate as a vocation. Just as God calls some persons to be monastics, others are called to live the monastic practices in their everyday life, as an Oblate We listed many of these:
  •  awareness of silence;
  • daily duties well done;
  • simplicity;
  • solitude in prayer;
  • obedience to God and God’s agents on the way;
  • humility;
  • respect of persons and all God’s creation;
  • hospitality;
  • stability to this family;
  • being open to wisdom;
  • seeking God;
  • preferring nothing to the love of Christ.

St. Walburg Monastery Benedictine Oblates October 2015
         Oblates offer themselves to God to live these practices. Oblation means offering self to God.  It is a continual work to live this life well.  We need the support of others on this journey. 
          In quiet prayer each of the Oblates reflected on his/her call; discovery of the call; and the response. Then they all had time to share their stories with the others around the table.  This was the first time that many of them have taken time to reflect on their call and share it.  They found the experience very meaningful.  Following this time, the Oblates assembled in Chapel with the Sisters for Noon Day Prayer, which included the Ritual of Renewing their Oblation as an Oblate of St. Benedict with this Benedictine community.  Together we are travelers on the way to everlasting life in union with Jesus.     
          On Sunday, November 1, we will celebrate with all the saints in heaven and on earth, those who follow Jesus on the way.
                                                                            Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Remembering Pope Francis in America

     A real historic moment in our history was when Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24,2015. Besides the Congress, the Supreme Court and the members of the president's cabinet were present.The pope said that he was "most pleased to address you in the land of the free and the home of the brave."
     Francis began by addressing the Congress and those present by citing four famous Americans and their accomplishments to society. They were: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. They are three sons and daughters of this land.
    Francis urged Americans to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. Every life is sacred. He said society can only benefit from the abolition of the death penalty. He offered encouragement for rehabilitation. He spoke of welcoming immigrants, stating that we are descendants of immigrants ourselves.
   The pope urged that we keep in mind all those around us who are in a cycle of poverty. Part of the cycle is the creation and distribution of wealth, and he urged the development of an economy that Is moderate, inclusive and sustainable--one that seeks the creation of jobs in service to the common good.
    He said that we need conversation on the environment. We must re-direct our steps, we can make a difference. He urged Congress to play a courageous role: protect nature, combat poverty, put technology at the service of that which is more human and more social. Congress can make a big positive contribution in the years ahead
 . The pope also spoke of the richness and beauty of family life. I am sure we will be hearing more on this as the Synod on Family Life comes to a close this month.
     Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Deer, the life of trees and memories

       On a recent bright and sunny afternoon, I was staffing the monastery front desk, looked up and saw three young deer munching acorns fallen from the standing oaks lining the walk to the monastery door. One, two then three, cars passed at intervals; the deer absorbed in their feast did not budge. But soon the steady parade of cars arriving to pick students distracted the deer; they took off for the tree covered hillside
        Here in Kentucky trees have been in the forefront lately, particularly the ash tree. Everywhere we see stumps of these trees. Not too long ago a visit to our cemetery shocked me. Many dead trees had been cut down; stumps and logs covered the cemetery. The abundance of stumps and logs had been too large for the maintenance crew to clear away quickly. It took some time but now the cemetery is clear, green, beautiful again with a few healthy young trees. A short distance beyond, behind a wall of trees, is a regular mountain of logs. Periodically someone will call for permission to take one or two, perhaps to create a bird bath in their back yard.
       A road trip between local hills reveals several large patches of dead trees, mostly ash. It will be interesting to see what falls brings when the live trees will no longer be obvious—but what will next year show?  My absorption seems to be with dead tress! I must come back, however, to those mighty oaks which line the walk to the monastery entrance. They are, a great source for memory, gratitude, beauty.
       I remember as if it were yesterday that long ago day, September 8, 1944, when my parents and two very young brothers brought me to St. Walburg Monastery to be postulant. The present oak trees had not been in the ground too long but had many branches and lots of acorns. We walked up steps, met Sr. Domitilla and Sr. Germaine, and I went through the steps of becoming a postulant. Then my family left, going down that same walk, my young brothers in tears. I look at those large oaks today and think of the years in between.The oaks bring many memories of all the happenings in community and family life that have occurred during the years. The oaks have been there through it all.
       May our newly planted trees have healthy ground and weather, and our community of St. Walburg Monastery continue to serve God and the Church through our Benedictine life. All this from a three deer visit to the front lawn!

                                    Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jubilee and Gratitude: One in the Same

       Pope Francis designated 2015 the year of consecrated religious life. The first of his three stated aims is for us to look to the past with gratitude. Gratitude is what I experience as I celebrate this Jubilee.
       I am grateful to my parents, John and Aileen and my siblings for the love and life lessons I learned and experienced in belonging to the Bankemper family. I feel especially blessed and grateful to God for calling me to the community at St. Walburg Monastery and giving me life among such wonderful women. I have so much appreciation for the members of the community both living and deceased, who have loved, mentored, challenged and forgiven me over these many years.
       My first profession was in 1965, the year the Vatican II Council ended. It was a time of change and huge changes were on the way.  In light of the Gospel and contemporary times all religious were called to study their origins, examine the meaning and purpose of their lives and update practices for present times. As Benedictines we were founded “to seek God in community, to live under the Rule of Benedict and a prioress.”  Along with countless communities our community heeded the Council’s call and since that time has engaged in examining every aspect of our lives; through ongoing in depth study of the Rule of Benedict, reclaiming our monastic heritage, revising our psalter (prayer books) even to the right sizing of our tables in the dining room to allow everyone the opportunity to hear and participate. 
       Throughout the many changes, a commitment to ministry has been a mainstay. My own involvement in meaningful ministry continues to be a priority. I love my work as a psychologist and the many persons I have had the privilege to serve. I feel especially blessed for the past twelve years of facilitating groups at Cancer Support Community and the Women’s Federal Prison Camp in Lexington.
       It is difficult to describe how much these groups have influenced my life. They bid me to appreciate the one precious life with which I and all of us have been gifted; to recognize that it is an accident of birth to the families and situations into which one is born: that all of us make mistakes, some serious, yet all of us need forgiveness and healing. Pope Francis designated 2016 as a year of mercy.  I hope his message will seep deeper into my being and allow me to walk in the shoes of those who suffer, particularly with the women in prison.
       The color and beauty of my life would be less without the richness and fidelity of friends. I am thankful for their fidelity in both the good times and the difficult ones. I feel especially blessed and grateful to God for calling me to St. Walburg Monastery and giving me life among such wonderful, giving women.
      Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB