Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Divine Dialogue

(with apologies to Plato, Socrates, et al)
God:   Have you seen any of my prophets around here? I need some.

Ima D.Sciple: Who are you looking for? Where do you think they might be?

God:   Who knows! I put my Word in their mouths a while back; I hope they didn't forget about that.

Ima D. Sciple: What do you need? Can I help?

God: I need some witnesses. Today so many people are upset; they see their world falling apart around them. They've lost trust in institutions of any kind – church, government, business… They’ve stopped reaching out to anyone who thinks otherwise and focus only on themselves and their problems. "We need someone with answers," they say. Then some charismatic, self-proclaimed expert comes along and says “I can solve all your problems. All we have to do is….,” and they eagerly jump on board.

Ima D.Sciple: Your Son was surely charismatic.

God: Yes, but he never said his answers were simple or painless; quite the opposite. And he warned about people who would come saying they had all the answers, but who were really wolves in sheep's clothing.

Ima D.Sciple: Is this why you are looking for your prophets?

God:  Definitely. My Son knew that when people were feeling lost or beaten down, they needed hope, but not the cheap hope that promises easy, painless, and just–around-the-corner solutions that are usually too good to be true. Rather, they need true hope that requires work, struggle, and often collaboration with others who share the same vision.

Ima D.Sciple:  This is where your prophets come in, isn't it. They know hope isn't cheap; it costs.

God: It cost my Son his life, and he paid it so everyone could have honest hope. I need witnesses to remind others of this bigger reality. They will remind those in trouble that problems are solved not by calling people names but by calling them forth, not by alienating but embracing them.
When people are so desperate they can't think through the "easy" answers to spot the risks; when they accept doing violence to others so they can have their own way; when they ignore the life-threatening needs of others to fill their own less acute needs; these are times and places my followers need to wake up to their calling.

Ima D. Sciple: Can't you do something? After all, you are God!

God:  So was my Son, but remember how he left things. We decided to give our disciples opportunity and resources, then leave the rest to them. Our gift to them is to be co-creators of the Kingdom. If they do their job, through them justice, peace, and harmony will weave through the human fabric. The world will be transformed.

Ima D.Sciple: And here I am. I guess I have some decisions to make, don't I?

God: You and many others, but if you decide, together you will re-make society to better reflect love, which is the true nature of God. Remember, we are with you through it all.

       Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Between the Rooster and Keys

              A rooster and key(s) are often present in sculptures and paintings of St. Peter. These symbols represent both the struggle and the glory of Peter’s life. These images resonate with me and after some reflection I have come to think of them as being on a continuum. Each day brings with it an opportunity to move forward in love towards God, to become more fully the person whom God is calling me into being. Or I back away through my thoughts, words or actions by denying God, self or others. Even in my moments of denial I know that God is there, ready to forgive and draw me in closer once again.
                It is in the small daily choices that I move along the continuum.When I lend a helping hand, listen compassionately, share generously my skills, or find a common ground with another person I move closer to God and create a positive impact. In my impatience, anger, fear or indifference I trend towards the denial, my own version of Peter’s rooster.

 It is in these moments of denial, I pray for a gut reaction or stirring of compassion which startles me and moves my denial towards love. I also pray for the humility to allow myself to be forgiven and loved into fully being. In our humanness we learn and grow  It is in our humanness that we realize we are wired for connection with each other. May we all grow in our awareness of our connectedness and move towards our own keys which bring forth compassion, love and healing for us all.
Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

To Follow St. Benedict

       In his Rule, St. Benedict counsels his followers to "pray and work." He further advises them to "love one another in charity" by practicing "good zeal with the most fervent love."
       As I pray and work in God's world today, Benedict reminds me "never to despair of God's mercy and to desire eternal life with all passion of the spirit."
      How do these words affect my life now? In my daily life as a Benedictine sister I am challenged to pray and work in a monastic community, to be present, to communicate, to serve, to love and live out my Benedictine profession.
       I am grateful to God daily for this call, and I hope to celebrate it for years to come.
       Sr. Martha Walther, OSB

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Memory and Message of God’s Grandeur

       Today is the anniversary of Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ death in 1889. Seeing a reminder of this fact brought to mind a poem of his that was shared with our class in high school many years ago. Perhaps you had this experience too:

God’s Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things:
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy ghost over the bent World broods
with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

       This is probably the only poem of Father Hopkins that I half-way understand. Like abstract art, it conveys to me reality through the feelings, the images he names with such care. This piece makes me feel awe at the beauty and indestructibility of this World (NB: He capitalizes the word in the ending verse unlike the beginning verse.) At the same time the realism of “man’s smudge” and “smell” does not allow me to avoid my responsibility of caring for creation.

       Thank you, Gerard Manley Hopkins for the beauty and hope you have given us!
       Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Founders Day

       Today (June 1) we honor the Benedictine women who arrived from Erie PA to establish a Benedictine community in Covington, Ky. (We usually celebrate the feast on June 3 but this year we transferred it to June 1 because the Feast of the Sacred Heart falls on June 3.)  Three sisters arrived at St. Joseph Parish on June 3, 1859. They were the third group of Benedictines to establish a community in the United States. It may be interesting background to note that the first Benedictines to arrive in the United States from Eichstatt, Germany in 1852 settled in Elk County, PA. In 1856, a group from Elk County established a monastery in Erie, PA, the community of our direct origin. 
       On June 3, 1859, three sisters from Erie, PA, arrived at St. Joseph Parish. These sisters lived in a rented house on Bush Street with few possessions and only a genuine trust in God to sustain them. It is hard to imagine the hardships they faced in a new land with a new language, and little preparation for teaching the children of Covington’s German immigrants’ girls’ school.  How grateful they were that the parishioners of St. Joseph Parish came to their aid with food and clothing. 
       Only two months after their arrival Mother Alexia Lechner (pictured below) was sent as prioress. We give special honor to her as we celebrate our Founders Day. In addition we celebrate the many forebears who planted the seeds and tended the foundation of the monastery we dearly love and call home today. 
       The first reading for today’s Mass from the book of Hebrews honors our forebears well by comparing their faith to that of Noah, Abel, Abraham, and Jacob. We ask God for a similar faith and ask their intercession as we seek to respond to God’s call today. We ask that God continue in us the good work God began in them.        
        As I wrote this blog, I began to feel closer to Mother Alexia and our early forebears than ever before. I attended elementary school at St. Joseph Parish where the founders of our community arrived. It was from the Sisters at St. Joseph School that the first seeds of my vocation were sown. Praise God—a personal reason for me to celebrate!

Sister Victoria Eisenman, OSB