Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Perplexity, Perspective and Compassion

When watching the news in recent weeks I have found myself experiencing sadness, anger and perplexity as I watched stories of how people were treating each other. The actions and rhetoric in the descriptions of the events presenting a picture of disregard for life, respect and care for others. In my prayer and thoughts I found myself shifting from the emotional to contemplating perspective and what shapes our experiences.          
                Each of our perspectives is shaped by our experiences and choices. I think of how I have been influenced by my family, education, friends, my Benedictine community and many joys and sorrows along the way. Each person on the news speaks and acts from their perspective, from their experiences along the way. Their perspective, like my own, is influenced by significant people, joys and sorrows. Holding this thought, I found my anger and perplexity being tinged with compassion for the person, for the untold story …the sorrow and suffering which led to the actions and rhetoric seen on the news.  

                Now what do I do with this tension between compassion and perplexity?  Hans Urs von Balthasar offered me a thought this morning.  “Even if unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.”  There are many things in this world such as politics, faith or even differing priorities which create disunity in our world.We have a choice of actions which create unity or disunity.We can choose to act in a way that fosters love and compassion.We can work to build our capacity for compassion which allows us to broaden our perspective, to hold the story of another and to transcend our differences. May we each strive towards unity in love in our actions, thoughts and way of being with one another both near and far.   
                          Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Because He Said It

          On Sunday, June 18, we celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ  (Corpus Christi).
This is one of my favorite feasts because of my great love for the Eucharist.  I think that if you
ask any Catholic, they would agree that they love the Eucharist.   It is the source and summit of our 
Christian lives. 
          True the Eucharist is a mystery.  We do not grasp its full meaning.  We have only glimpses of its meaning. We grasp instinctively.  We know that the Eucharist can and does change our lives.  As the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ,  we who receive the Eucharist are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.  Collectively we call this the Church, the body of Christ (St. Paul).

          In faith we believe that Jesus is truly present and that if we eat His body and drink his blood, we do have eternal life.  Why?  Because He said it.  (John 6:51-58).

Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

She gave from the abundance of her heart

              Recently the Gospel reading of the day was the “widow’s mite” (Luke 21: 1 - 4). Reflecting on this passage I remember a poignant moment in my ministry in Appalachia. It occurred while visiting a woman (I’ll call her May) who recently moved into a group home. 
             I had known May for several years. It seemed that everything that could go wrong in her life had. The death of her daughter, a divorcee, and her own mental health issues worsening made it impossible for May to live on her own. What I recall of this day is May’s excitement in having a visitor. We met only briefly in a common TV/living room when she asked me to come see her own living area. May took my hand as we walked down a long hall.  Her bed, a dresser and a few belongings were in an alcove, a small section of a large dorm room. As I looked around at her meager possessions May pointed to the floor.
            There at the entry space to her alcove, was a mat that said WELCOME – and she beamed showing her few remaining teeth. She wanted me to know just how open her heart was in welcoming me.  I noticed that no one else in the dorm had a mat – just May. This was her prize possession. Hospitality was the special gift she had to give.  She gave from the abundance of the little she had. I felt blessed to be received by May.

           May’s hospitality was what Benedict desires of his followers – to receive and greet each person as Christ; to welcome them with joy and gladness. There is a quote from Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out that reads “From now on, wherever you go, wherever I go the ground is holy between us. As you leave, you stay within the hospitality of my heart,” It is as true today as it was almost forty years ago. May continues to remain in the hospitality of my heart as I hope I remain in hers. 
        Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Avoiding the Thud

Just having completed the 50 days of Easter with the beautiful Pentecost liturgy, I was anticipating my usual “let down” that comes with the sudden appearance of Ordinary Time. The feeling is like falling from something or somewhere with one big thud. This year as I pondered the Church liturgies in the month of June, I was happily reminded that the month is very rich with liturgies that can either avoid or have a happy lift from my anticipated thud.
Since my early childhood, I have loved the devotion to the Sacred Heart to whom the month of June is dedicated. My great-grandmother, who died before I was born, had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart. She left behind a two-foot statue of the Sacred Heart that was “stored” in my bedroom. I was also told that Grandma distributed Sacred Heart League leaflets throughout the neighborhood each month of the year. How often I felt close to the Jesus represented by that statue and poured out my heart to him. How grateful I am for the gift of devotion to the Sacred Heart and likely even the seeds of my vocation handed down by a deceased grandmother!
On the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate Trinity Sunday, and the following Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi. We celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart on Friday, June 23. This month we also celebrate the feasts of John the Baptist and the feasts of the apostles Peter and Paul. Thirteen saints, five of whom were martyrs are also commemorated. So like the lush green growth around us, the first month of Ordinary Time presents us with a plethora of feasts to bathe us in hope, the presence of our Triune God, and examples of others who followed in the footsteps of our Lord.

  Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Come, Holy Spirit

        In the gospel on the feast of the Ascension, Jesus asks the disciples why they are standing there looking upward? He tells them that they are to quit standing around and do something. When they ask how they will be able to do something he says that the Holy Spirit will guide them. In their usual doltish fashion they tell him that they don’t even know the spirit. He must have rolled his eyes and thought, “What am I going to do with these people?”

        In this week between Ascension and Pentecost we too are trying to learn more about the Holy Spirit. We pray for the gifts of the Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (or wonder). In every age these are gifts that we need to bring our Christian life’s message to our world.

         With the many needs of our world it is easy to see that wisdom knowledge and understanding would be a good start to heal the divisions among individuals and nations. Counsel and fortitude would give us the strength to stand for those who have no voice. Piety and wonder would enhance our prayer and gratitude to God for the beauty of the world around us.

         So, let us pray with sincere hearts, that the Spirit will shower us with the gifts we need in our corner of the world, so that we will not be standing around but will do something as Jesus asks.

Sister Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB