Thursday, December 27, 2018

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us


           Many years ago a woman gave me a lovely, matted framed poster that reads Words are so powerful they should only be used to heal, to bless, to prosper. As a child this woman experienced demeaning verbal violence destroying her opportunity to grow in self-confidence and self-worth. 
          Most of us have been injured by words recklessly spoken; most of us have spoken words knowingly or unknowingly that have hurt another. Today we live in a climate that is replete with spoken meanness. These days I find myself frequently glancing up at the wall hanging, reminding myself of the import of my spoken words.
          And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God’s expression of love, his compassion for humanity became enfleshed in Jesus the Word. Jesus revealed in the Gospel, the word of God and “the way” of being for each of us in the world.
          In a message by Pope John Paul II in preparation for a world youth day that could aptly be used in a Christmas homily he stated: To receive Jesus Christ means to accept from the Father the command to live, loving Him and our brothers and sisters, showing solidarity to everyone, without distinction. It means believing that in the history of humanity even though it is marked by evil and suffering, the final word belongs to life and to love, because God came to dwell among us, so we may dwell in Him. Vatican, July 7, 1999
          Our calling is to presence Christ in wherever and whatever circumstances we are involved showing solidarity to everyone without distinction. Yes, there are situations that present tough challenges for choosing words, especially when “I feel hurt” or “I know I am right” or when “I feel misunderstood, judged, or wronged.” To go the extra mile or turn the other cheek I might never want to choose for an option. But then looking at the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh who came to heal, to bless and invited us to prosper in God’s saving grace, and we remember And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. and God came to dwell among us, so we may dwell in Him.

          Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Come, Lord Jesus!

         When I taught 8th grade in one of our parish schools years ago, I spent some time developing the idea of Advent with my students. One  particular year brought it home to them in a way I certainly never expected.
          I tell the students that the word comes from the Latin “ad” meaning “to” or “toward”, and “venturus”, meaning “the coming”, future tense.
          So we celebrate by remembering the first coming of Jesus on Christmas day, and hearing much in the scriptures about his second coming at the end of time. And of course, the children are always aware that “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”      So many comings!
But, in between there are other comings of Jesus, in our daily lives, in the persons we encounter, and events of the day. And - Jesus tells us, “Be ready, for you do not know the day or the hour.”
I would tell the children about my little 9 year old brother Billy who was dying during Advent of the year I was a sophomore in high school. On Dec. 8 I had spent the day with him in the hospital, talking, playing games with him and just being there. He came back home for Christmas. But, On Dec. 29, Jesus came for him, as we gathered around his bed, waiting. I’ll never forget how his eyes opened wide during the coma, focusing on Someone or Something bright in the corner of the room. And then he was gone. It was so awesome! I’ll never forget.
The students are always very quiet when I talk about this.
Well, after a few days, they went home for Christmas break. One of the girls, named Patty, went Christmas caroling around the neighborhood, and when she came home she was tired and lay down to rest on the couch. Later, her mother could not waken her. A day or so later, Jesus came for her. When the students came back after Christmas, there was Patty’s empty desk. What an Advent lesson that was!
Advent this year has been most adventurous for me as I was taken to the Emergency room on the first Sunday, and have had a lot of unexpected time to spend with the Lord exploring His coming in my life while I recuperate.
The Lord comes to us in so many ways! I find Him in the loving care and concern that has been given to me from the nurses, doctors, Sisters in my community, the students and school personnel, and my family. I learn from them all how to be more compassionate and thoughtful of others. And I am overcome with gratitude.
          Yes, Jesus is Coming! Are we ready for Him at any time? As in the book of Revelation,  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Sr. Mary Carol Helllmann, OSB

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Cataracts of Advent


       I was intrigued by the two very different meanings of the word cataract: the rush of mighty water over a precipice vs. the opaque film that impedes sight with advancing age. How did the root of this word take such differing paths?

       The Greek kataractes means something that is rushing or swooping down. It became transferred into Latin in the form of cataracta, and thus could mean a waterfall or a portcullis (grated gate, a safeguard to a castle)

       From about the 16th c. the word cataract began to be used as a simile for the film that obstructs light from entering the eye. In that sense it is closer to the portcullis, which would slam or rush down to prevent an enemy from getting in. The cataract of the eye neither slams nor rushes nor swoops, but it obstructs quite well.

       Waiting for a date for cataract surgery is waiting for the light. No more will the brain have to work to equalize the corrected with the blurry. This cataract of Advent will soon give way to clearer vision, to a vision of the Lord Jesus coming in power, as in a cloud of light.

Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Our Tender God

       Each morning we gather to Praise God with and for all Creation, using the ancient Psalmody of the People of God.  The prayer closes with the sung “Canticle of Zachary” from the Gospel of Luke.  Lately the closing stanza has held me in prayerful thought for a long while.  These days I am more and more aware of how these words encompass the Advent theme.

By the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide out feet into the way of peace.

Or in Sr. Deborah’s version, we sing on another day:
You are merciful; you are tender.
You are the sun’s rays
striking the eastern horizon at dawn.
You are the Morning Star, rising to shine on us.
Brightening our shadowed steps, banishing death.
You are our beacon, drawing us on in peace.

Calling our God, tender, had never stirred me before.
      Then, in reading a set of books I received for Christmas, the word tender has caught my eye again and again.  Many have heard of Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, who has worked with gang members in Los Angeles for three decades.  In his first book, Tattoos on the Heart, he introduces us to the “Homeboy Industries” that he began; the largest gang-intervention program in the world.  He shares stories of conversion, crisis, death and new life that bring tears to one’s eyes.  I have watched Fr. Greg’s You-tube presentations to which he always takes two former gang members along to tell their stories.  The audiences get very touched by the homies’ stories and Fr. Greg’s approach with them.
      In his second book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, (2017) he shares his philosophy of convincing these folks of their own goodness, that it is only in a culture of tenderness that this can happen.  He sites Julian of Norwich’s thought, that “the true and most authentic spiritual life was one that produced awe, humility and love.” Fr. Greg says, “It is awe that softens us for the tender glance of God, which enables us to glance in just the same way.”  He says that “Homies” (Homeboys or Homegirls) “begin to inhabit their truest selves once they are on the receiving end of tenderness. This they soon discover is its own reward.”  Once Shaggy texted him, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”  He shares about a prisoner who has become one of his teachers, “He has learned the tender gravity of kindness, and knows how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.”  Fr. Greg says, “We don’t try to get them to be ‘good’; they already are. We’re hoping they’ll find the goodness and seek happiness in their “yes”.
       In Luke’s Gospel we read recently of Jesus speaking of the coming of earthquakes, plagues, and famine, and then says, “Do not be terrified.”  “Be not afraid”, “Fear not”, he says over and over.  Jesus wants us to see terror as he does. This is what Greg teaches the gang members who come to their center.  “They can confront terror with an openhearted kindness as Jesus does.  Suddenly, plagues and earthquakes have lost their menace when met with such tenderness”.
      Fr. Greg considered it a singular blessing to have known Cesar Chavez, especially his keen skill of listening.  Nothing or no one else existed in that moment but you, no matter who you were.  Once a reporter commented to Cesar, “Wow, these farm workers, they sure love you.”  And Cesar smiled, shrugged, and said, “The feeling’s mutual.”  “When the feeling’s mutual, we are seized by a tenderness that elevates us to the very largeness of God…The affection of God unfolds when there is no daylight separating us.” 
      It is so evident that the Home boys and Home girls feel very “at home” with Fr. Greg and his staff.  And I have learnt a lot about what a Culture of Tenderness can mean for folks on the edge of society.  I am grateful for such Christ figures who show forth the “tenderness of God” in our midst!
     Happy Advent! 
                                Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Book of Revelation and Me!

           When I was a child my cousin Margie Ray had a record player at my grandmother’s house that she let me play when I was visiting over weekends. She had several 78 RPMs – not a big collection by today’s standards, but I loved each of them and played them over and over when I was in the living room by myself. The chorus to one song was “ [I’ll] ride a milk white horse, diamond hood, hitched to the rock where Moses stood, look so fine and feel so good when I put on my long white robe.” My second source for picturing the scene laid out in Revelation was a Spiritual I learned while singing in the Baker-Hunt Children’s Chorus, “I Got Shoes” in which all of us choristers sang with gusto, “ [I’m] gonna walk all over God’s Heaven”.
         As these memories are stirred today because of the current daily Mass readings, the feelings of anticipation of glory and fulfillment well up in me as they did when I was a children caught up in the music. I loved the scene laid out in Revelation. Surely there were and are parts of the document that I don‘t “get”. But what I do get is glorious: Everyone, beyond counting, will be there singing and rejoicing without distinctions of race, tongue, tribe, nationality, etc. We will all be dressed for the celebration with robes, shoes and everything we need- signs of freedom and belonging. All will be light and all evil will be overcome.
        Revelation has always been Resistance Literature. In the first century it bolstered the early Church to stand against the pressures of their local societies. In our country it is likely that the songs I referenced above gave enslaved people expression for the hope they had for this life and the hereafter.         My association with Spanish speakers has also brought me into contact with the lively cancion, “Jerusalen que bonita eres”,  which describes walking on streets of gold and a sea of crystal while singing Alleluia. Yes, in spite of the evil that seems to prevail at this time, God will bring us through this. Heaven will be wonderful and all those wearing the white robes of fidelity will be praising God.
        Reflecting on these pre-Advent readings set before us the goal. Now we are called to discern how we will strive to kindle the embers of that vision by joining with our sisters and brothers around the world and across all class distinctions to pray and act to promote freedom, peace and justice as a way of glorifying God. 

            Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB  


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cats and God's love for us

           In late October Sr. Dorothy and I moved from a house on the western edge of the monastery property to the monastery itself. The move went well with the gracious and generous help of our maintenance men, Paul Rodgers and Tony Jarman and Srs. Mary Catherine, Cathy and Christa. The sisters at the monastery welcomed us with open arms. The only drawback for me was that this is the first time since 1992 there has not been a cat in my life.
              
          In 1992 when we were living in a house in downtown Covington, we adopted two kittens, brother and sister:  butterscotch and white named Cheddar and black and white named Chutney. Chutney died at age 10 when we were still in Covington and Cheddar died at age 19 going on 20 when we were living at St. Marys. A friend asked if we would consider adopting a diva cat who had been adopted by her daughter and who had to be returned to the foster parent because she blocked the house’s kitten from using the litter box! So we adopted Drina, a British short-haired cat with the attitude of Queen Victoria. On our original visit to see Drina, another little funny-looking kitten came running up to us. That was Diana, a grey and white Selkirk Rex, who clearly wanted to go home with us and a month later we returned for her.
           
          My experience with these four cats has led me to two reflection points. The first one struck me when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. Many news outlets reported that he was a cat lover and that the administrators in the Vatican wanted him to stop feeding homeless cats in Vatican City. I wanted to write him a letter suggesting that as Pope in these times, he would be relating to the People of God not as a shepherd to the sheep but as a cat herder trying to lead a bunch of cats to salvation. Or a cat whisperer like Jackson Galaxy helping humans adjust themselves to the inclinations of the cats in their lives. 

          Sheep are fairly docile compared to cats. Sheep will follow; cats won’t. If you are in a relationship with a cat, you love it deeply for its “catness.” Getting a cat to trust you is a lot of work and that’s the point. However much you say to the cat, “It’s for your own good,” the cat will insist that you prove it and even then it won’t be convinced. Cats show an aptitude for free will even more than human beings.
            
          Later as I edged closer to becoming a crazy cat lady (but never really crossing the line), I realized that my love for the cats in my life was like God’s love for us. Catherine of Siena says to God in one of her prayers to the Trinity, “You rested your sight on the beauty of your creature, whom you, as mad … with love, fell in love with … and acted as if you were drunk with love, infatuated by your creature.” God does not love us for our potential perfection as human beings; God delights in us and deeply loves us for who we are—human beings imperfect as we are. Very much like my love for the cats in my life—delight in their “catness” and infatuated to the point that if there is a cat in the room, I may not pay attention to anything else.

            Now as Thanksgiving draws near, I give thanks for the cats that have been in my life who have helped me love the natural and animal world around me, who have made me a better person coming closer to being able to love as God loves. And I give thanks for God’s delight and love for me and all the other People of God.

                              Sr. Deborah Harmeling, OSB

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Children in Peril

       The book Sarah's Key written by Tatiana de Rosnay has captured my attention and my heart. It begins as two side-by-side stories but I want to focus on the little girl. Sarah is a ten-year old Jewish girl living in Paris when the French police come in the dark of night to take her, her mother and father away. The time is July 1942. Through Sarah’s observations, thoughts and feelings we are exposed to the horrors of the incarcerations, bus and train rides, the camps, the separation of families. Through the many questions she poses to herself we are bombarded with the atrocity of her situation.
          The fathers are taken away first, then the mothers are torn from their children. Sarah clings to her mother until the very last minute. What follows for Sarah is the enormous amount of crying and calling that ensues.I was especially struck when she describes the toddlers who had identification tags tied to them.f course they removed them as all children of that age do. So now there is a pile of tags and a large number of unnamed children.
          I just paused and was overcome with the thoughts of children in our own country more than 75 years later who are experiencing much the same—the border children, the abducted children, the stolen children, the abused children.heir horrifying dread, their extreme fear, the great uncertainty they face overwhelms me.
          I pray for our country, our lawmakers, and social workers to do their best to make a bad situation better. I pray for the foster and adoptive families that try through many hardships to return the children to some normalcy.And I pray that I always treat others with respect and know when I need to say I’m sorry.

       Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

One Voice Among Many

     I am saddened by all the violence that is happening in the U.S. and also around the world.  My heart goes out to the Jewish Community in Pittsburgh on the losses they recently suffered.
     It seems that in the U.S. and around the world,some people look at  other people as "we" and as "them".  There is a terrible division among the human race. In reality, we are truly all sisters and brothers in the one God.
     Could it be that people who violate other people do not believe in God?  And thus do not see other as sisters and brothers?
     I think the world today is getting farther and farther away from God, who is the Source of all Good.
     I am reminded of two great women in my lifetime. Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  I was privileged to hear both women speak in 1978 at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, PA.
    Dorothy Day was an advocate of social justice and she brought about social change for the good of all. Mother Teresa embraced the suffering people who had no one. Mother Teresa said that we too suffer in America when we fail  to love others.  That this failure to love was our "poverty" here.  One of her favorite savings is: "Do small things with great love".
     I feel that if we replace "hatred" with "love", it will be a big start to getting back on track again.

       Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Awful Grace of God

       Over the past week we have witnessed another violent and heartbreaking shooting—this time in the Tree of Life Synagogue. During Shabbat morning services eleven members of the Jewish community were killed and seven injured. The event, like others in the recent past leaves me stunned and once again saying “why.” Death is a hard and certain reality. Words often seem trite in the face of its mystery.

       I share the words of the Greek dramatist, Aeschylus, with you. They have been a source of consolation, not an explanation, more than once for me.


 “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
Aeschylus



       Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB 




The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was a mass shooting that occurred at Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation[a] in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of PittsburghPennsylvania, on October 27, 2018, while Shabbat morning services and a bris were being held. Eleven people were killed, and seven were injured. The sole suspect, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers,[4][5] was arrested and charged with 29 federal crimes and 36 state crimes.[4][6] The shooting was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.[7][8] The event was one of three far-right public attacks that took place in the United States the same week, along with the a series of mail bombing attempts and the Jeffersontown Kroger shooting.[9]

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Exercising the Positive

                I’ve been trying to regain my regular groove with exercise.  Exercises to raise my heart rate strengthen and stretch.   After a recently trying week (physically and mentally), I decided I needed some strength training for my soul muscles, in particular increasing positivity. 
                How does one exercise to strengthen positivity?  By savoring, 20-30 seconds at a time! Negative experiences stick immediately (think Velcro) whereas we need to savor positive experiences for them to work their way into the fibers of our memory.  I’ve been engaging in interval training of sorts for my soul by intentionally staying with these positive experiences when they occur for 20-30 seconds.  Here a few of my moments:
·         Sitting in my chair with a good cup of coffee
·         Watching beautiful rainbow out our back door
·         Thought provoking conversation with a friend
·         The pops of color beginning to appear on trees
·         An unexpected kind word
·         A few moments of quiet to take deep breaths in a full day
                  Benefits so far include moments of joy, gratitude, and awe.  The morning I saw the rainbow, I experienced one of the calmest and joyful commutes I’ve had recently!  I like this savoring and am realizing it is just as necessary as any other exercise.  What might you savor today?

         Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

St. Oscar Romero on the Future

       On October 15 Pope Francis canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Archbishop Romero was martyred by armed military while saying Mass in the cathedral. He was attacked for being a champion for justice for the poor of his country.
 
       The following is a reflection by Saint Oscar Romero which offers encouragement to those who work for justice against all odds. Let us be lifted up and moved to continue our work for those most in need of justice.

A FUTURE NOT OUR OWN

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.


           Sister Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Seeing God's Handiwork

    One of the favorite poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins from my youth is about seeing.   
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God,                                                                                      but only he who sees takes off his shoes.                                                                                                  the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” 

      If only we could see as God sees!

      A few yards from our Guest House front porch is a huge oak tree. Despite its age, the tree still continues to produce a multitude of acorns. Recently I was working in the flower bed in front of the porch when something hit the top of my head - an acorn  Within a minute a twig with leaves and then a second acorn hit!  I had to laugh!  A gentle nudge? 

    This dear old tree with its diminishing branches, will not last many more years, I fear, but its beauty, its shade, its “dwelling space” and, yes, even its bothersome seeds, have become a part of me and will live in my memory.  I am grateful.

     Let us seek your face, O God, let our hearts be open to embrace all creation, especially our brothers and sisters, made in your image and likeness.  Open our eyes that we may see as you see, with a  new vision  for our Earth, with compassionate and thankful hearts.  As we age, may the seeds you have planted in us bear fruit for the next generation.  Amen.
                   
       That in all things God may be glorified!  
                         Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Seduced World

Searching for a way to make prayer more meaningful for the group of seniors with whom I pray, I “happened” upon AWED to HEAVEN ROOTED to EARTH a book by Wa lter Brueggemann.  It challenged me.  It also delighted me with his use of unique phrases and wonderful words. It seemed to be the catalyst I needed.
For Professor Brueggemann “Prayer is an exercise in faith, obedience and praise that cannot be done apart from God’s presence and guidance.”  In the 41 years that he taught in seminaries he steadfastly began each class with prayer.  AWED to HEAVEN ROOTED to EARTH is a collection of these prayers.  He offers these as “possible resources for those who habitually utter public prayer.” He says that prayer needs “to be figured in fresh ways and that that figuring is scripture.”  It must be “well said.”
                “I believe that in an intensely secularized context the task of prayer is to re-imagine our life in the presence of God and therefore offer direct address to God—that playfully said invites interaction with the God who has pledged to hear.”
                My hope is to read and re-read his ideas and put them into my preparation for prayer with my group of seniors.  As a retired teacher myself, I admire his honesty as he prepares to retire, “Over that time I have of course studied with a variegated assemblage of students.  For some of them I have been a treasured teacher, for others not at all.  But all of them, by choice or not, prayed with me, and some I have found to be more mature in prayer than I.”
                His use of scripture certainly “figures” in the following prayer.
“Ours is a seduced world”
God of all truth, we give thanks for your faithful utterance of reality.
In your truthfulness, you have called the world “very good.”
In your truthfulness you have promised,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
In your truthfulness, you have assured,
“This is my beloved Son.”
In your truthfulness, you have voiced, “Fear not I am with you.”
In your truthfulness, you have guaranteed that
“Nothing shall separate us from your love in Jesus Christ.”
It is by your truthfulness that we love.
And yet, we live in a world phony down deep,
In which we participate at a slant.
Ours is a seduced world,
where we call evil good and good evil,
where we put darkness for light and light for darkness,
where we call bitter sweet and sweet bitter (Isa.5:20),
where we call war peace and peace war,
so that we rarely see the truth of the matter.
Give us courage to depart the pretend world of euphemism,
To call things by their right name,
To use things for their right use,
To love our neighbor as you love us.
Overwhelm our fearful need to distort,
that we may fall back into your truth-telling about us,
that we may be tellers of truth and practitioners of truth.
We pray in the name of the One whom you have filled
with “grace and truth.”  Amen.

 Sister Kathleen Ryan, OSB

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Mystery of Friendship

     Do you have a friend, a really good friend? Have you ever thought about what holds the two of you together? Sometimes there is no ready answer to this question? Why this person and not another? Personally I have never really tried to dissect any of these relationships, but I appreciate them as rare gifts.

     Recently I’ve begun to see these gifts as part of a much bigger treasure. Each relationship is somehow a part of the mystery of God and a glimpse into the living reality of God’s incarnation into our world.

     The other day Fr. Bill Cleves gave a presentation here at St.Walburg on Pope Francis’ Exsultate et Gaudete; the letter is about our call to holiness. Fr. Cleves'  talk was rich with insight into Francis’ reflections. One of the threads I found weaving through his remarks was the theme of God as community and how, as a people of faith, we are part of this divine relationship. He points out that for Francis, the call to holiness is a journey with others, not alone. This is where I see the God-connection with friendship.

     A major element in friendship is in the self--giving that occurs in moments or over years. As each person gives part of self, bonds get stronger. These are Godly acts! We find in the Hebrew bible and other sacred texts across many cultures that creation is God’s self-giving, God’s outpouring. God as Father, Son, and Spirit, is a Trinity of Self-giving, which is another way of saying God is Love and the Source of all bonding within creation. God is Community. The Dalai Lama has said, “…our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence,” and Fr. Cleves reflected the other day: “We are most divine when we are in communion.” These things are true because God is communion.

     One doesn’t have to be a theologian, however, to recognize the reality and significance of the bonds between human beings.
  •  “If we were good at everything we would have no need for each other.” Simon Sinek, British-American author and organizational consultant.
  • “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence…” Erik Erikson, German-American psychologist and psychoanalyst.
  • “When we seek for connection we restore the world to wholeness.” Margaret J. Wheatley, American writer and management consultant
     Then too, a casual stroll through almost any drug, grocery, or discount store will reveal hundreds of greeting cards for almost any occasion. Each card is a reminder of how often people want to connect with another person. A friend lets us know that we matter!

           Looking at all this in another way, God gives us other people to remind us that the Divine Presence is always near. During his presentation Fr. Cleves suggested another name for God: “I’m Right Here!”  When we open our eyes and our heart to appreciate a friendly gesture or a jaw-dropping event, that's God saying to us, "I'm Right Here." If we reach out to someone with a consoling or forgiving word, that's God saying to the hurting person, "I'm Right Here."  There is the mystery; there is a re-enactment of the Incarnation. The mystery of God and the mystery of humanity are once again visibly intertwined, God reaching into human life to make us more divine. Through friendship we are truly  immersed in mystery.

       What a gift!

       Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“Are you hastening toward your heavenly home?”

     The above quote is from the Holy Rule of St. Benedict [1980 translation].
In a recent community retreat at St. Walburg Monastery, Cistercian Abbot
Paul Mark based his conferences on questions found in the Holy Rule and
In Scripture.  In a reference to Sr. Ephrem Hall, OSB; he noted that
“God’s questions [ in Scripture ] to us are invitations to open our hearts and
minds in a divine-human communication and relationship. Abbot  Paul Mark
shared that the questions St. Benedict presented in the Holy Rule can be taken
as doorways to enter the mystery of the person of Christ and there to be clothed in Christ, having the mind of Christ imbued within us.

     Are you hastening to your heavenly home? This quote from the Rule of Benedict is found in Chapter 73:8.  The term ‘hastening’ intrigued me to search  some of its myriad meanings.  

    Hasten/Hastening
    Make hurry in a rash manner i.e. as in ‘willy-nilly’.
    Hurry in a rushed careless way without any real reason nor purpose.
    Rush, speed-up.
    Swiftly, rapidly urgently.
    Just get it done now.

    To hasten heedfully however needs to be goal-oriented to avoid being disoriented.

     Through the sacrament of Baptism our goal automatically resides in seeking
The Kingdom of God which embodies the fulfillment in ‘The Body of Christ’
In the prayer Jesus taught us “Our Father”: we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done and earth as in heaven.’
To enter into this Kingdom of Love personified in the communion of the father, son, and holy spirit our strength and energy will come in our participation in the Love.  St. Benedict in chapter 72:11-12  states:”Let us prefer nothing whatever
to  Christ and may He bring us altogether to the kingdom of everlasting life.” 
Revelations:21:1-6
     
     There will be a new heaven and a new earth that shines so bright with God’s
love and glory that we will have no reason to deny that there is not enough sight

to walk in this light. So now let us hasten to our heavenly home.

           Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mary, Our Mother

       During September we celebrate two Marian Feasts that highlight the ups and downs of everyone’s life whether outstanding saint or worst of sinner. On September 8, we celebrate the Nativity of Mary. Exactly one week later we encounter Our Lady of Sorrows.
       The entrance antiphon for the Mass of Mary’s nativity sets the tone for our celebration,”Let  us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.” I smile when I compare these words with what Joachim and Ann may have uttered. Elated as they were, how different our perspective after over two- thousand years. In awe and joy, we can pray,”Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”   
       Many of us at St. Walburg also celebrate Mary’s nativity as the anniversary of the day we entered this Monastery. In the days when a group of young ladies were simultaneously expressing interest in becoming nuns, they were encouraged to enter the same day; namely on Sept. 8. After a period of postulancy and a year as a novice, we received a new name. The name of Mary then took on new significance as the name Mary preceded the new name, which for me was Sr. Mary Victoria. While many of us just use the second part of our title, the name Mary is written in our hearts.
       What a contrast one week later when we celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows!  Almost any reference lists Mary’s sorrows as seven beginning with the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart and ending with Christ’s entombment. While seven may be obviously Mary’s very worse sorrows, much of her life likely contributed to her title as Our Lady of Sorrows.
       So many of today’s headlines refer to mothers who live with unbearable sorrows: refugee mothers who do not know where their children are, mothers whose children were murdered or kidnapped, mothers who mourn for their children who are addicted or commit suicide. The list could be endless. Our Lady of Sorrows, comfort the hearts of all sorrowful mothers.

          Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB