Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted

An unlikely conversation
In an unlikely place:
A story from prison

Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted”
                                                Responsorial, Sunday, February 4th.

        “I know what Jesus tells us, but do I have to be her friend?” An inmate (I will call her Sue) posed this question in an ongoing group. She then described a recent incident “While I was speaking to another woman in the lunch line I heard my name shouted repeatedly by an inmate. She is a person who latches on and won’t let go. I responded to her from anger and now feel guilty.” Sue said she feels haunted as to how she ought to relate to this person and further commented: “In this prison there are several inmates whom no one seems to like. I call them ‘throw away people,’ because many seem in agreement and experience them as a pain, a nuisance, aggressive, bothersome and a burden. No one will defend them. I don’t know how to deal with these women myself. I feel the same way as the others, but I know in my heart it is not right to treat them this way. I feel bad for them, they have had difficult lives and yet when I try and befriend them, they consume all my time. What I really want to know is, just how far does the mandate of Jesus “to love your neighbor as yourself go?” This generated much conversation in the group. 
        In subsequent meetings Sue reported that she had made the decision to treat this woman with kindness and to be less reactive to her, and this behavior was proving to be helpful. She continued this practice, and at one meeting announced “You know, now that I have gotten to know this woman and understand a little more about her life I like her and feel myself opening up to becoming  her friend.” 
        Then it happened. A woman who rarely spoke in the group raised her hand and spoke in a soft halting voice “It is hard for me to talk, but I feel like I am one of those throw away people. Even as a child I felt that way. My family life was chaotic, so much arguing, fighting and meanness. I prayed and begged my parents to take me to an orphanage and leave me. That didn’t happen and my life only got worse.” In the room, it seemed as though time stopped. The others in the group embraced her with empathy and understanding. From that day forward she joined the group sharing more of herself as she grew in her own self-import and love.  
“Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted”
Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Meno: Abiding, Staying, Enduring

       Recently one of our substitute chaplains at the monastery used the Greek word Meno in his homily; which intrigued me greatly. A Google search found me a plethora of information which touched me profoundly. The Scriptures included will be from the New American Standard Bible within the New Testament Greek Lexicon.
       WORD: Meno      Phonetic Spelling : Men’o
       I    to remain, abide
         a.      In reference to place : sojourn, tarry, not to depart, stay
         b.      To continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually
         c.       To continue to be, to last, to endure
         d.      In reference to state or condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different.
       NAS WORD USAGE---Total in New Testament   118+  The word has multiple layers of meaning. 
       The Apostle John has used it extensively in his gospel and letters.  Let us explore some of these.
John uses ‘meno’ to say God abides in Christ. As He abides in Jesus, He has a constant influence upon him and is continually operative in Jesus.   John 14—10   “ I am in the Father, who remains in [meno] Me…..The Father who remains in Me does His own work.” Jesus is the one completely at the Father’s disposal.
        John  14: 18—20      “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me, because I live, you shall live also.  In that day you shall know that I am in my Father and you in Me, and I in you [meno: in,abide,stay,will not leave this vital union]. ‘ This is the work of the Holy Spirit that I am sending to you.’
        Mark  14: 34  “Then Jesus said to them [the disciples] My soul is exceedingly sorrowful to death, [meno] stay and watch with Me.
         As we ponder many of the passages during this coming Lenten time, let us practice meno in our thoughts and prayers.  If we are abiding and staying truthfully then we will live in Christ : enduring, waiting, one with Him, showing and sharing His love to our sisters and brothers surrounding our daily lives.
                Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is it contagious?

       Recently I was assigned to the infirmary, not as a caregiver, but as a patient. It happened so quickly!
      Two flu patients preceded me – and were quarantined –contagious! My illness was different, but required plenty of rest –and medicines.
      The kindnesses I’ve received were incredible: “Can I get you some breakfast?” “I’ll be taking you to the doctor at 10:30. Someone’s appointment has been cancelled.” “What clothes do you need?” And just before bed time, “Would you like some nice hot tea with honey?”
       So much kindness! Is it contagious? The best I can do is to be a patient patient, and be grateful.
       My room has a TV channel focused on the chapel. Quietly I see wheel chair after wheel chair file in. Everyone takes her place; the faithful community prays, and my seat is empty. Someone picks up a book that has slipped from a lap. Another Sister points to the correct page in the book. The leader’s closing prayer is fitting: “God of compassion, you are faithful and loving, supporting us when we fall, raising us up when we are bowed down.” I see it again as wheel chairs are gently pushed out, lights are dimmed, everyone has gone.
       Is kindness contagious? Is a smile contagious? Is patient endurance contagious? I am surrounded by them all, and I hope it’s catching!
      Help me, Lord, to be kind, to be patient, and unselfish.

Sr. Mary Carol Hellmann, OSB    

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The White Poinsettia

It wasn’t just a different color. It was so small. Since Christmas Day I have looked at that white poinsettia at every liturgy. At first it struck me as a humble plant among giants. But humility is more attitude than size.

My next thought was of John the Baptist:
…I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him…
He must increase, but I must decrease.
John thus placed himself in right relationship to Jesus the Messiah, as one who was sent, whose role would now diminish. The Lamb of God to whom he pointed, the Light of the World, makes the days longer and lessens the night.

            Thomas Merton writes about material things in the liturgy as speaking eloquently of God, and as a means or conduit for God’s grace.
            We must see all material things in the light of the mystery of the incarnation.
            We must reverence all creation because the Word was made flesh…
            The material things which surround us are holy because of our bodies,
                        which are sanctified by our souls,
                        which are sanctified by the presence of the indwelling word.

In this relationship the plant life behind the altar sparks our imagination and acts as an accessory to the liturgy itself. A noble role for a small white poinsettia.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Don’t All of Us Follow Stars?

            As I think about the Magi following a star, I think of the light of Christ as the major star in my life that will never change. Yet the day to day light of the Holy Spirit seems to present a new star periodically, and I have been graced to follow each of them. During my years from seven to thirteen, I pursued a career in dancing and drama; I was Hollywood bound. My parents supported me fully. Then a week before my thirteenth birthday, my father died of a heart attack and I lost interest in everything.
            Another star arose as I attended Holy Cross High School and became very active in various clubs that were led by one of my Benedictine teachers I was so impressed by the sisters’ interaction with one another and with the students involved. Then a new star arose that called me to follow the path of being a sister or a nurse. I entered St. Walburg Monastery three months after I graduated from high school. Had the community been very involved in hospital work, I would have asked to follow that course, but I ended up spending my life n the educational field.
Now I am just four months from my ninetieth birthday. Many of my last several years have been spent serving the infirm sisters. I feel as if I have a little hand in nursing! I am also adjusting to getting a glimpse of the star that will put me totally in touch with my Love, my God and Savior.

Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB