Thursday, January 15, 2015

Welcome to the Monastery

Have you ever wondered what you might see at Saint Benedict’s Monastery if given the chance to go beyond the chapel doors? Those big doors leading out of the Sacred Heart Chapel that take us, the Sisters, into our inner sacred spaces.

Well, on Sunday, February 8, between 2-4 pm, you have the opportunity to visit us and take a tour of our sacred spaces.

Pope Francis has dedicated the year 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life. His hope is for people to learn about, and come to a better understanding of, what religious life is all about. This public "come and see" will do just that. Our open house at Saint Benedict’s Monastery will give you, our visitors, an opportunity to see and hear about our sacred spaces and to learn about our life. During the tour you will meet a variety of sisters. You will see our Chapel and walk our hallways. These spaces are central to our life because they are all connected. We pray and work in these spaces, they are the nuts and bolts that hold us together. These hallways take us to prayer, to work and to our dining room where we share meals together.

Come and experience the silence of our Oratory. What is an Oratory?            
Come and find out!
Living in a monastery may seem counter cultural in today’s world, yet religious life is alive for 239 of us who live and pray together every day.

Come and visit us on February 8.

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mushing, Miracles and Mystery

Every year I enjoy the opportunity of taking College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students dog sledding in Ely, Minn., with Paul Schurke at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. Today, I received an e-mail from a former musher participant asking me “if I was getting ready for the dog sledding retreat”?  She went on to tell me how much that retreat impacted her life. I can’t take credit for the effect of the retreat; my contribution is gathering students, organizing retreat details, and then getting out of the way to let God work. The significant impact of this retreat comes from being outside, immersed in the pristine beauty of the Boundary Waters and sledding with a team of trustworthy dogs who become a major part of the adventure.  Add to that the integrating effect of participation in the monastic rhythm of prayer, silence, reflection, discernment and building community.
A typical day begins early (7 a.m.) so as not to miss the beauty of the sunrise and the crisp morning air. What could be more welcoming than the dogs’ greeting, howling with joy to see the students? The morning chore of feeding the dogs and being the "pooper scoopers," grounds the students in the essentials of life and duty.  To get them out of bed in minus 35 degree weather is truly a miracle! Over a hearty breakfast that follows, they’re alive with stories of affectionate interaction with the dogs and with the beauty of early morning despite frozen eyelashes and bitter cold! I often sense this is a form of lectio (the Benedictine practice of prayerful reading) --truly a mystery and gift.

Trish Dick, OSB

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Keeping the Light of Christmas

The Christmas season doesn't end until January 11, with the baptism of Christ. It may be too late to express this plea but please keep your Christmas lights on! And your crèche prominent in your home! Why? Because we need more time to receive the mystery of Incarnational presence: “A CHILD is born to us ... and he shall be called GOD the mighty... the earth is eager, joy touches distant lands. GOD is wrapped in thunder cloud, throned on justice, throned on right ... Be joyous in the Lord God, you PEOPLE of FAITH, praise GOD’S holy name (Ps. 97).”

Mystery, indeed: Child on earth; God in Child, like unto us humans!  A paradoxical picture, indeed! The terrifying majesty of God brings joy to those who love the Lord ... in any palace, church, hamlet, home or heart: mystery to be pondered!

Or consider the promise of Isaiah 47: “I say to prisoners: ‘You are free, come out into the light.’ You will feast on your way, find food on barren heights. No one will hunger or thirst or suffer the scorching sun, for the Lord cares for you, guides you to cooling springs.” Mystery to be pondered; we need more time and love, Child/God!

Enkindle our faith, tiny weak Child of earth ...

Prepare a feast for us on barren heights, mighty God ...

We desire intimacy with You, incarnate and eternal One. We will shout for joy as you comfort a suffering people.

Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In My End Is My Beginning

Mary, Queen of Scots
"In my end is my beginning" - the motto of Mary, Queen Scots, Catholic Queen of Scotland who lost her throne and was beheaded by her cousin, Elizabeth I of England,  in the sixteenth century.  A lesson that it is not only in our own time that the enmeshments of politics can lead to events and acts of violence that maybe neither party would have desired.

Yet there is another lesson there that has something to say to us in our generation and especially at this season, as one year ends and another begins. Whether one sympathizes with Mary of Scotland or not, she was undoubtedly a human being who sinned and made mistakes, but who also held devoutly to her faith. Her motto is something to ponder.

During the Christmas season have you ever felt a sense of material excess that didn't seem to be what Christmas was about? Did someone else seem to take the way Christmas was celebrated out of your hands and arrange things in a way you wouldn't? How did you respond?

We all have our ideas about how things should be (and maybe our way is best!) but is there a deeper level at which we can handle these questions? Can we let go of our own preferences? Even when they are good ones? Can we open ourselves sufficiently to let the Holy Spirit help us see that these superficial things don't matter? That they matter so little that, well, it would nice to get rid of them, but they're so unimportant, it doesn't matter if we can't. Can we free ourselves so we don't spend our energy on these minor irritants, but let them go so that we are not distracted within ourselves and can focus on what really matters - Christ come into the world?

"In my end is my beginning." Let me put an end to  myself and my desires and preferences as being significant. Let me see that by doing so, I can begin a richer life in Christ.

As 2014 ends, Lord, help me to put an end to caring about small things and let me begin the New Year by opening fully myself to  the glorious and eternal mystery that is You.

Karen Rose, OSB

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stillness and Incarnation

Advent reminds us of Mary’s quiet waiting in a time of unknowing.  The wonder of pregnancy and birth rarely leaves us unmoved. Like all mothers, Mary likely went about doing her ordinary tasks with an ever growing awareness of the movements of the child within her. And during times of stillness, she must have been amazed at this child sent by God to be nurtured within her.

 Her early response to the Angel Gabriel’s message, however, quickly evolved into acknowledging solidarity with another pregnant woman, her cousin Elizabeth. Her bold choice to move beyond her own pregnant condition to create room in her life for someone in need, lets us know again what it means to respond to ever-present God-ness. In the stillness of her journey she moved forward, one step at a time.

In our daily darkness of unknowing, every response to hidden-Godness may allow small incarnations to again be manifest. Sometimes the invitations arise in situations and persons we may prefer to pass by. Can it be, that within a deep breath of stillness, one breath at a time, we can actually awaken to a wider range of incarnating-responses? It may be, that inviting ourselves to choose these brief moments, we may find ourselves in solidarity with Mary’s step by step waiting and incarnating. According to Bede Griffiths, stillness can be amazingly transformative for ourselves and all around us.

Stillness within one individual can affect society beyond measure.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014: Year of the Pope

This year, 2014, has been designated the “Year of the Pope.” Media Source, 2014, published a lovely book on highlights in the history of the papacy. It speaks of Pope Francis in these words: “In 2014 Pope Francis will continue his busy schedule, changing minds and winning hearts all over the world. Taking charge of a church from which many were distancing themselves, Francis has begun to show the world what strong, open-minded leadership can do.

With only 12 months under his belt, he’s truly just getting started.” There is no doubt that Pope Francis speaks his mind. About our world economic system, he says: “It is not good! It’s a system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But now, since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black.” (The Visitor [St Cloud, Minn., diocesan newspaper], 6/20/2014). He clearly speaks his mind.  Can we hear him? He also says: “Globalization’s failings are not only material but cultural since it cancels differences.” (Ibid.) Pope Francis calls for an economic system that “preserves each person’s particularity, richness, and identity.” (Ibid.) A very timely message, I would wager!

Media Source gives other significant quotes from our Pope:

If, throughout history, the Church has changed so much, I do not see why we should not adapt it to the culture of our times.

There are two types of men (sic): those who take care of the pain and those who pass by ...

No one can grow if he does not accept his smallness.

Not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe. I respect the conscience of each one of you, knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you!

And may God bless you, Pope Francis! Thank you for jogging our minds,
hearts and action!
 Renee Domeier, OSB              

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bringing Your Light

Photo: Nancy Bauer, OSB
As we move into December, the rhythm of abundant darkness and longing for welcoming light is upon us.  This pattern immediately brings to mind a recent, true story shared on the occasion of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of our monastic chapel.  S. Michaela Hedican, Prioress at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., told the story of a 300 year old church nestled in a rural area just outside Geneva, Switzerland.  At that time the congregation could not afford lights for the evening service, nor could they afford candles, so a tradition began that when everyone would come to church, they each brought their own light.

          A visitor came to church one evening and the church was completely dark.  The visitor was about to leave and as she was walking down the steps of the church she saw in the distance one light coming along a path.  Then from another direction another light, then from another direction yet another light and another and another, and step by step, one by one, from all around, people kept coming with their lights.

          As the people came into the church, they would take their lanterns and put them on iron hooks and soon the church was a blaze with light.  After the service the visitor said to one of the members: “This is one of the most unusual traditions I have ever seen!”  The man said: “We have done this for over 300 hundred years.  Now we could afford lights and we could afford lamps, but we like the symbolism of everyone bringing their own light.”

Maybe that invitation for living in the light these dark wintery days is actually that simple.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB