Thursday, December 31, 2015

Words, Words, Words….at the End and the Beginning of a New Year.

       In today’s Gospel reading from John’s prologue, we hear, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God…and the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. In tomorrow’s reading from Luke we will hear, Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart
Today being the last day of 2015, I gave time this early morning to ponder over words—those I’ve said, read, regretted, waited or dreaded to hear. My morning offering of words to you are those I read several days ago and have lingered in my mind: Laid in the soul’s bosom this Word will increase the understanding, sweeten the behavior and temper the whole frame of mind and way of life with a pleasing and wholesome gentleness ( Guerric of Igny). 
       My deepest hope for 2016 is PEACE.
                   Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What shall we present to you, O Christ?

What shall we present unto you, O Christ,

For your coming to earth for us?

Each of your creatures brings a thank-offering:

The angels--singing;

 the heavens--a star

The wise men--treasures;

 the shepherds-- devotion.

What shall we present unto you, O Christ,

for your coming to earth for us?

May the blessings and graces of Christmas
be with you and those you love.
The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hearing Again the Old Familiar Story

Interior of St. Francis Seraph Church
at another Christimas Event
     Yesterday at St. Francis Seraph school in Cincinnati, Ohio, we had a traditional Christmas program in church, with many parents and relatives in attendance. It was delightful. Drums, the piano, and voices of children from kindergarten through grade eight resounded in the friary church. A huge, magnificent Advent wreath hung from the ceiling above the center aisle, reminding everyone that we’re anticipating Christmas again, in line with a long tradition of more than fifteen hundred years. A near life-size stable left of the sanctuary completed the display.because of love for us. 
The familiar story, though old, was still received with expectation by the youngest generation. It is a love story, that of God becoming one of us
    As adults, we may not always appreciate all the extra work that the season brings with it in our culture. However, despite busy schedules, we can remind ourselves to pray as we go or to turn off the TV, car radio or cell phone sometimes in order to just be silent.  We can smile at another shopper, pray for the people waiting in line (and for all the drivers on the road!) Doing ordinary things with love and mindfulness can increase our awareness of God. Like a child in its mother’s or father’s arms, may we allow ourselves to be carried and nurtured.  And then, go and do likewise for others. Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
                                     Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Retirement Fund for Religious Collection

       This past weekend I had to pleasure of speaking at Sts. Boniface and James parish in Ludlow on behalf of the many elderly religious men and women in the United States who are in need of financial help to provide for their healthcare and daily living. 
       The bishops’ conference established the Retirement Fund for Religious over 25 years ago and Catholics throughout the country have been extremely generous. In the Diocese of Covington, 75% of what is collected is given to the communities here in the diocese. The remainder is sent to the NRRO (National Religious Retirement Office) office for distribution where needed throughout the US. 
       Women and men religious have given their lives for the benefit of all of us in the church, through working in Catholic schools, hospitals, parishes and service agencies. For many years they received little or no stipend. They didn’t really mind actually, because they were not working for money but for the passing on of our faith and traditions. As the number of religious earning a salary or stipend has decreased the needs of the older community members has increased. Healthcare costs are rising, as all of you know very well. 
       After working in education for over 40 years myself I am now the treasurer of our community. I see firsthand what it costs to care for our retired sisters while we maintain our ministries, and know that we need the support of the Retirement Fund more and more. 
       As you consider your contribution to the collection next week I ask you to remember a Sister or Brother who has been an influence in your life—a teacher, a nurse, a counselor, a spiritual guide. 
       Whenever I reflect on this I remember my fourth grade teacher, Sister Fidelia. She was the organist as well as our teacher and we had a small organ in our classroom. Before our school day began we sang hymns and read from Scripture, much longer than other teachers did, I’m sure. I’m not sure that the education standards of today would be thrilled with her approach, but that spiritual beginning was part of what formed me as a Catholic and as a Benedictine woman. I know many of you have had similar remembrances. 
       At Evening Prayer every day at St. Walburg we have a special intercession for our benefactors. They sustain us in so many ways. In this season of thanksgiving and grace, we are sincerely grateful. 
       I trust that this year’s Retirement Fund collection will be as much a blessing for all of us as it has been in the past.
            Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Be Present to the Moment

       Christmas is less than one month away.  Preparations consume our time and energy.  Many things are a mess in USA cities and internationally.  I need not remind you.  Crises is looming everywhere.  There is anxiety in our bones. What to do? 
       As I was reading something arose that I have known for a long time.  I am grateful for the nudge.  “Be present to the moment.”  For example, when I am washing dishes, I am washing dishes—aware of the soap bubbles, aware of the warmth of the water, aware of the smudges, aware of the swirl of my hand and the possible pressure needed, aware and perhaps in awe of the clean shine.  So If I do it right, when I am driving, or writing, or cleaning, or praying I am engaged in just one activity.  It is not an ideal world and this does not always work, our thoughts wander back to the pressures.  But for the time that we can remain focused on the task at hand I find that a certain calm ensues.  Praise God! 

       As we enter into Advent, I am resolving to make more of an effort to be present especially at Eucharist.  Thus I am aware that I am in this worshipping community.  I am here and no place else.  I am attentive to the words, to the hymns, to the actions, to the presence of God.  ( I know God is present in each of us at all times including the times of stress and of panic.)  But for the time being there is no stress, no panic just the people gathered for worship.  
                         Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB