Friday, March 30, 2018

Black Elk Speaks

          In a recent search of the library shelves I chose a biography Black Elk Speaks  subtitled “Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.  I have not reached the adult stage in Black Elk’s life yet but I am fascinated by his maturing process. So far in the story the strong beliefs have not been revealed.  But the sacredness of nature is always present. What I really want to share are some of the names of the months as they carry their own spirituality.  Enjoy!
Black Elk card by Robert Lentz
   Moon of the Snowblind (March)—leaving this behind
   Moon of the Red Grass Appearing (April) welcoming this month
   Moon of the Popping Trees (December)
   Moon of the Changing Season (October)
   Moon of the Falling Leaves (November; October in another site)
   When the Plums are Scarlet (September)
   Moon of the Red Cherries (July) 
   Moon When the Cherries are ripe (Late July)
   Moon of Making Fat (June)
   Moon of black Cherries (August)

 I also have to share an additional phrase that is such a lovely sight: ”the bitten Moon” 
          Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Little Food for Thought from an Ancient Rule

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say:  I was a stranger and you welcomed me… Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly Christ is received; our very awe of the rich guarantees them special respect.”* As we celebrate the Feast of St. Benedict today, over 1500 years after the death of our patron, let us consider briefly the ministry of hospitality in our lives now.
Who is the stranger, the poor, the pilgrim today - in our society, our city, our neighborhood?  How do we collectively and individually welcome others?  How do I identify with the underserved, the neglected, the persecuted?  How do I reverence the Divine in everyone?  Each of us will answer in our own way, as our circumstances vary.  We may perceive a need to widen our vision, stretch our borders, take a risk, read the Church’s social encyclicals** or just listen with the ear of our heart… and respond.
Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB  
*(RB1980 53: 1, 15)   Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN  c 1981                                                                                                        

**U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Justice Encyclicals

Monday, March 19, 2018

Overshadowed by St. Patrick

          On March 17 most of the world, especially the United States, celebrates the Feast of St. Patrick. But there is another saint whose feast day is March 17. I found this representation of that saint on the Episcopal Memes Facebook page. The representation is from an original work by Carolee Clark, King of Mice Studios.

         Gertrude of Nivelles (c625-659)  lived in the 7th century in Belgium and was a younger daughter of Saint Pepin of Landen and Saint Ida of Nivelles; sister of Saint Begga of Ardenne. It seemed to be a saintly family. They lived in the pre-Charlemagne era (the Merovingian era) when the Western Roman Empire was in tatters and there were many local kings and small local states. Very little is known of Gertrude’s early life.

        The chief source of Gerttude’s life is the Vita Sanctae Geretrudis and the Additamentum Nivialense de Fuilano probably written before 670 and after 663 (very soon after Gertrude’s death). The Vita indicates that when Gertrude was ten years old, she rejected a royal suitor and declared vehemently that she would take neither him or any other earthly spouse but only Christ the Lord.
          Her parents seem to have honored her wishes. It was only after her father died in 639 that her mother shaved Gertrude’s head, leaving only a crowned shape tonsure in order to repel any other suitors who might wish to marry her daughter for wealth and power. Ida then built a Benedictine double monastery at Nivelles where she retired with her daughter. When Ida died, Gertrude at the age of twenty became abbess of the monastery.

          Gertrude was known for her hospitality and the aid given to Irish missionary monks . St. Patrick had lived almost 200 year previous and Ireland was then in need of more evangelization. She also was helpful to St. Follian by giving him land on which to build his monastery at Fosses, Belgium.

          In 656 she resigned as abbess in favor of her niece St. Wilfretrudis and devoted the rest of her life to studying Scripture. She had the gift of visions and was known as an ascetic visionary. She fasted so rigorously and slept so little that her health became precarious. She died at the age of 33 in 659. It was said that St. Patrick watched over her deathbed.

          Gertrude was not formally canonized but in 1677 Pope Clement declared her universal feast day to be March 17.

          Gertrude’s iconography is flexible and evolving. Originally she was considered the patron of travelers because of her hospitality and then patron of gardeners and the mentally ill. As time went by, she became the patron of rats or mice because she was known to pray for souls in purgatory, and medieval artists frequently portrayed those souls as mice. Many drawings and statues of Gertrude showed her with a crozier symbolizing her position as abbess and mice or rats at her feet or running up her robes or the crozier. Since mice or rats have never had a good reputation, she later became the saint who would intercede when there was infestation of mice or rats.

           Recently people have associated the saint who warded off mice or rats as a patron of cats  We have no story that Gertrude even owned a cat but cats were useful in medieval times to keep the rats and mice away from food supplies and even out of houses whose floors were “rushes”( mats made of straw or any dried pieces of greenery) that caught and held food droppings and were only changed every season. Many authors point to the 1981 Metropolitan Museum of Art's catalog, Metropolitan Cats, as the beginning of her status as  patron of cats.

          Gertrude of Nivelles is not to be confused with another Benedictine saint and mystic, Gertrude the Great, who lived from 1256 to 1302 at Helfta in Germany. Perhaps I’ll do a future post on her.

                                         Sr. Deborah Harmeling, OSB

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Beauty in Brokenness

               Kintsugi is a Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer with the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. It seems a fitting image during this Lenten season. We enter this season with our brokenness and fragility. God
takes our broken pieces, filling the cracks with grace and healing.
                As we journey through Lent may we in our brokenness allow God to bring us healing.   May we witness to the Gospel through acts of compassion and understanding as we encounter brokenness in one another and the world and which we live. 
May we each grow in the art of seeing beauty where once we only saw brokenness. 
        Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February is over

February 28-- Last day of the shortest month of the year.
                   2--Groundhog saw his shadow—winter yet.
                   2 --Presentation of the Lord; Candlemas Day
Simeon and Anna meet the “Light of the World.”
               12--Abraham Lincoln’s birthday—abolished slavery; preserved the Union.
               14—Ash Wednesday. Lent begins.  We return to dust
               14—Valentine Day.  We offer tokens of love to others.
               14—Gunshots, screaming, pandemonium.
                         High school students and teachers are killed. 17 in all.
                         Others wounded.
                         Troubled teen uses an automatic attack rifle to get the attention he lacked.
Where is the blame—easy access to guns, lax gun control laws, mental illness, inability to take a stand?
Who will step to the plate to do something about this tragedy?

Teens march on Florida’s capitol to say “NO MORE.”
Teens take the initiative to march around our area’s high schools to support their brother and sister teens. To seek a solution.
Who is listening? Does anyone hear the cry of these young people?

    22—George Washington’s birthday—the Father of our Country.
         -- spring-like weather comes
         --A beautiful day of snow interrupts but, doesn’t last.
         --RAIN , rain, and more rain!  The Ohio River floods. 
Many are affected.  Many reach out to help. 
                     Many look on awe-struck by the sight.

            The daffodil and tulip bulbs break through.  Spring is near.
            The old weeping willow on the Monastery grounds is turning yellow-green.

            February is over.

      Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB