Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Kingdom of God

        In the selections from the Gospel of Matthew that we are reading at Eucharist, Jesus proposes parables about the Kingdom of God for the crowds from the local experiences that they understand.          “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God? He says,
       “The Kingdom of God may be likened to a man who sowed seed."
       "The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed…”
       “The Kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed…”
         Jesus’ examples of how to understand the Kingdom of God stirred my imagination to look around me to see what local experiences could be compared to the Kingdom of God present in our midst.  I came up with two:
       The Kingdom of God is like the cucumber vines in our monastery garden which are daily producing such an abundance of cucumbers. They are multiplying so fast that we can hardly keep up with gathering them, cooking them, slicing them, pickling them, canning them, and storing them for consumption throughout the rest of the year. We love our bread and butter pickles.The cucumber vines have become a community building event.
       While sitting at the front desk doing my portress' duty the last few weeks, I have been watching many young people biking up to our front walk, or driving up and parking for a short time, getting out and working on their smart phones and iPads till they get a Pokémon-Go signal and capture a character, give a smile of success, and then off they go to the next site.
       The Kingdom of God is like the Pokémon-Go game that is energizing our young people to go out to designated sites, capture a character, and move on to search for more. Our front gate, the Monastery front entrance, and the lake by the infirmary are three of these designated spots. I believe more folks have located and identified St. Walburg Monastery building through this game than anything else. Let us hope that this game will continue to stimulate good sharing among friends and families locally and all over the world, and keep them searching for all the wonderful gifts and surprises God has in store for them.
       In the Give Us This Day July issue, Fr. Ronald Witherup, reflects on the Parables of Matthew:  “As you hear each parable, you might ask yourself:  what does it tell me about God and God’s priorities?  Not every parable has a moral about our life.Sometimes they tell us that God’s Kingdom grows secretly and mysteriously (like the mustard seed or the yeast), or that it contains every kind of person (the net) whom only God will judge when the kingdom finally comes.Jesus’ main advice:  If you have ears, then listen.”                                                                        

       To what can you compare the Kingdom of God around you?  
            Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB,

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Another Reading Recommendation from Sr. Andrea

            Our monastery library is excellent in quantity and quality of books. In my younger years I had read lots of them but as I age I find that I read less than formerly—mostly Scripture, short articles and books sisters pass on to me. Three of my most recent blessings are:
            The Abbey by James Martin, SJ, a favorite contributor to America Magazine, I wrote about this book in my last blog of March 8, 2016.

            Spirit of Fire : Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin by Ursula King. It contains a quotation that hangs in my room: Someday after mastering the winds, the wave, the tides, the gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of LOVE and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
            And the one I have just finished and must read again is When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers by Marcellino D’Ambrosio.
            As I progressed through the pages of this last book, I realized how little I really know about the very young Church, its history, its saints and how it moved into later centuries. The book is very readable but for me its time frame was difficult to follow as it included so many saints of similar names, and their stories moved back and forth in dates. The time frame covered in the book was mostly the second to third centuries. A listing of dates and events is included in the front of the book and is very helpful, but the text moved back and forth as the author presented various Doctors and Fathers of the Church.
            I found D’Ambrosio’s description of these early Fathers moving and very human, especially n the lives they led and their influence on the times. I was especially fascinated by Origin, Augustine, and John the Preacher with the Golden Tongue. Only in the last sentence of the chapter on him is the John the Preacher identified as John Chrysostom. I learned much from my first reading of When the Church was Young, but as you can tell, I must read it again to gain the wisdom it offers.

            Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Legacy of St. Benedict

If you are familiar with the Dialogues of St. Gregory, you would not be surprised at the long list of patronages with which St. Benedict is associated. St. Benedict is patron of: [some for, some against]
v  Cavers, spelunkers and speleologists
v  Temptations and nettle rash
v  Those who have broken their employer’s belongings
v  Agricultural workers and farmers
v  Against poison and witchcraft
v  Europe

I must have missed some stories, for I found myself wondering how fevers, gall stones, kidney disease, and erysipelas got on the list. The others were more familiar.

At the end of the list above is Europe. Pope Paul VI officially pronounced St. Benedict Patron of Europe in 1964, stating that it had been the wish of Pius XII and John XXIII as well. “We also give our full assent to this movement that tends toward the attainment of European unity.” With the splintering of that unity in recent days, perhaps we might pray to St. Benedict for healing. Our intercession might properly extend to the healing of bonds between all nations, peoples and races.

      St. Benedict and his followers are credited with bringing the dawn of a new era to Europe by means of the cross, the book and the plow. The cross, the law of Christ, for Benedict “lent consistency and growth to the ordering of public and private life.” Spiritual unity resulted from the practice of liturgical and ritual prayer. The book, a symbol of culture, “saved the tradition of the ancients” and “restored the cult of knowledge”. Cultivation of the fields and similar initiatives “transformed wastelands into fertile fields and gracious gardens” and by uniting prayer with manual labor, Benedict “ennobled and elevated human work.” It is not difficult to see how St. Benedict might be invoked for environmental efforts, sustainability, just recompense for employment and the dignity of manual labor.

Our closing prayer for this feast on July 11 states “We who follow his Rule delight in the rich tradition we have inherited. Raise up in our day women and men who prefer nothing to the love of Christ…Through the intercession of Benedict, may our ancient heritage continue to flourish.”

 Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Dogwood Tree

       Yesterday, my dogwood tree was cut down. It  was time for it   to go because it had many dead branches on it. The dogwood tree was just outside my bedroom window. I loved to watch the tree at the changes of seasons.
       In  the  springtime, new leaves would bud forth and it   would have beautiful white blossoms. Later berries would come and many and different birds would come and eat the berries. It   was a hub of activity!
       I was fortunate to watch this marvel of nature for thirty some years. The tree itself had grown so tall that it reached our second floor window.
       Even though the tree belonged to the monastery and to all of us, I considered it "my" tree because it greeted me in   the mornings and evenings and when I looked out my window. I enjoyed watching its beauty and   activity.

       I am sad at the loss of this tree but am also reminded of a quote by Alfred, Lord Tennyson that is in my mind at this time.  "The old order changeth, yielding place to new and God fulfills himself in many ways lest one good custom should corrupt the world."
        Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB