Fri 29 Apr, 2011
Tags: Benedictine Sisters, Main Entrance, Renovations
Fri 29 Apr, 2011
Thu 28 Apr, 2011
We hold in prayer all those affected by the terrible storms that hit the southern United States this week:
You invite all who are burdened to come to You.
Allow Your healing hand to heal me.
Touch my soul with Your compassion for others.
Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all.
Touch my mind with Your wisdom, and may my mouth always proclaim Your praise.
Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example.
Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength.
Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. Amen.
And we know many will be traveling to the devastated areas to offer help. Utility crews, aid workers, medical staff and other volunteers will be needed to help pick up the pieces of shattered homes and lives.
To these wonderful people, we offer this prayer for safe travels:
Lord, our God, lead them toward peace
place their footsteps on the road to peace
guide them toward peace
help them reach their destination in peace.
Keep them from all danger and harm.
Send them blessing,
Grant them grace, kindness and mercy.
May you hear our prayer because you are our God who hears prayer.
Blessed are you Lord, our God, who hear our prayer.
Wed 27 Apr, 2011
While Easter may be considered over for many, here in the monastery we’re in the middle of the Octave of Easter.
We still have much celebrating, praying and reflection to do. Here is the Easter message prioress general, Sister Pat, shared with us on Easter Sunday:
It was still dark when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb.
The depth of the darkness was not entirely due to the early pre-dawn hour but intensified by Mary’s heaviness of heart and loss of hope at the brutal and tragic death of her beloved Lord. She was there to anoint his body, the final act of love the living can offer the dead. She was there seeking solace in her devastation and trying to restore some dignity to the brutalized remains of the Master.
But there were no bodily remains to be found; only burial cloths left in a puzzling arrangement inside the tomb. The cloth that had covered Jesus’s head was not with the burial cloths but folded up and lying in a separate place. Curious as that might be to us, according to the Hebrew tradition of that day, the message of the folded napkin was clearly understood by a master and his servant.
The tradition demanded that when the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure it was set exactly as the master wanted it set. With the table perfectly furnished, the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch the table until the master was finished.
If the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth, and then wad up the napkin and toss it onto the table. This let the servant know it was permissible to clear the table; the wadded napkin meant, “I am finished.”
But if the master got up from the table, folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table because the folded napkin meant, “I am coming back.” When Peter and John saw the folded napkin, they knew it for the message it was.
That message, written in code, so to speak, is Jesus’s promise of more to come, of the eschaton that awaits fulfillment. Through our baptism and monastic profession, we are commissioned to collaborate with Him in bringing it closer to fruition. While we are held in the tension between the already-here and the not-yet-fully-realized we have a sense of what Mary, Peter and John experienced in those early hours of that first Easter.
In spite of all rational evidence to the contrary, they knew He was alive. In spite of the present reality of a world where war, inequality and injustice persist, we know He is alive. In spite of our individual realities where selfishness and egoism maintain their grip, we still know He is alive.
Our Risen Lord continues to speak in code to us at the Eucharistic table with each breaking of the bread. It is His assurance to us that He is alive. It is His confirmation to us that the fully realized eschaton we await draws ever nearer to completion. It is His invitation to us to be and to spread the Good News that He is indeed alive – filling us, guiding us, gracing us.
Tue 26 Apr, 2011
One has to be determined to fight in this world for commitments to marriage, promises, religious life and faith.
There are so many demigods and temptations to spend time, money and energy elsewhere. We need tenacity to stay connected to our Lord who is life-giving and God’s goodness that is satisfying.
Our old garden plot is in the construction site. There is nothing growing there but weeds…or so I thought….
I found lavender…
and rhubarb coming up and looking pretty healthy.
Not wanting these tender tenacious plants to be trampled by an unsuspecting foot, they will soon be transplanted! They have clung to life-giving soil and moisture and deserve to be given a chance to survive.
Fri 22 Apr, 2011
Our Sister Lenora Black, OSB shares her thoughts on carrying the light from the paschal candle out into the world and using Easter’s fire to dispel the darkness:
In the small town of Watkins Glen in upstate New York, something new and exciting was about to take place.
It was the night before Easter of 1952, and inside St. Mary’s Church, a parish of some 300 families, expectations ran high while we awaited instructions concerning the liturgy that was about to begin. As a recent convert thirsting for new liturgical experiences, I had heard much in Rochester, New York, about the pastor, Fr. Benedict Ehmann, who had long taught theology and music in Rochester, so I decided to travel 160 miles to be at St. Mary’s for this great “First Night.”
Fr. Damasus Winzen, OSB, founder of Mount Savior monastery near Elmira, New York, and Fr. Ehmann were two of the leaders in liturgical reform before Vatican II. They had arranged to be among the first few in the United States to celebrate the new Easter Vigil liturgy approved by Pope Pius XII in 1951. Since this was before our age of instant communication, and the new liturgy was not yet available in print, they had the entire text cabled to them personally from Rome. Fr. Ehmann instructed us to leave the church and gather outside in silence around the large pile of wood that had been arranged there. The street had been closed to traffic, and the darkness and silence were palpable.
Having participated in the old early morning Holy Saturday services, I was familiar with the fire symbolism. However, the former lighting of a three-branched candle was pale preparation for the bonfire we were about to light. Rubrics for this new rite directed: “A ‘blazing fire’ (rogus ardens) is to be prepared so that the people may gather around it and experience the flames dispelling the darkness and lighting up the night. Thus do the beauty of the fire, its warmth and its light, draw the liturgical assembly together.”
No Easter Vigil that I have experienced in the nearly sixty years since that night has come near the power of that small-town celebration. Rarely is the darkness as complete as it was then, when the great fire gloriously lit up the night, and we all felt its warmth. Whatever form our personal darkness may take, it is good to recall the power of the paschal light to dispel it. In a third century text attributed to Hippolytus we read:
Dark death is destroyed and life is restored everywhere. The gates of heaven are open… The paschal light is the bright new lamp-light, light that shines from the virgins’ lamps. The light in the soul will never go out. The fire of grace burns in us all, spirit, divine, in our bodies and in our souls, fed with the oil of Christ.*
It takes faith to believe that “the fire of grace burns in us all” when we feel overwhelmed by darkness, but the Easter fire is not an ordinary bonfire that we just stand around, enjoying its beauty and warmth. From the new fire the celebrant lights the paschal candle and prays: “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” May it, indeed.
From the paschal candle we light our small candles to hold while the triumphant Exsultet rings out, extolling in rich symbolism the Light that is Christ. This joyful hymn traces the history of God’s people from Adam’s sin to the Passover feast and Israel’s liberation from slavery. It is our Passover also, “when Christ, the true Lamb is slain.” On this holy night God freed the people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea.
We can never completely escape the tyranny of cultural pressures surrounding us, and the voices within that would seduce us with power, prestige, possessions and all their pernicious progeny. But:
This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement are restored to grace and grow together in holiness. Lest we be tempted to believe that our faults and sins have robbed us of redemption, we listen attentively to those grace-laden words, O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer.
It is only when we have experienced our personal limitations and weaknesses, and been unable to rise above them by our efforts alone, that we truly appreciate the redemption gained for us by Christ. In the joy of that recognition we can join our voices gratefully and wholeheartedly in this glorious hymn of praise:
The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.
When the paschal candle disappears from the sanctuary, we are the ones who must carry its light forth in our hearts, praying in the final words of the Exsultet:
May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all humankind, your Son who lives and reigns forever and ever.
* A Triduum Sourcebook, edited by Gabe Huck and Mary Ann Simcoe, Liturgy Publications, Chicago, 1983, p. 73.
(originally published in Spirit&Life magazine, March-April 2011)
Thu 21 Apr, 2011
It’s Holy Thursday, and we have entered into the Triduum and three days of increased silence and adoration.
It is during this time we can listen with the ear of our heart and contemplate when Christ prepared the Last Supper as well as what followed.
Yesterday, while snapping pictures in the midst of the messy and very dirty work site, this beautiful blooming tree caught my eye.
Just as in the messiness of our day, if we are mindful of it, some beauty will catch our eye and we need to stop and say, “Thank you, God.”
Wed 20 Apr, 2011
Building is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; you have to do it piece by piece.
You have a plan (architectural blueprint) and the pieces (bricks, steel and wood) and you have cleared a space to put it all together (construction site).
The work crews are fitting our new entryway together piece by piece. It’s starting to look like the picture on the box…that is, if we had a box.
Tue 19 Apr, 2011
Soon we will enter into the Triduum (pronounced tri-doo-um), three days leading to Easter, devoted to prayer and observance of the death and resurrection of Christ.
Triduum means “three days” and begins with Holy Thursday, marking the end of 40 days of Lent.
The Second Vatican Council instructs us: “Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year.”
While our Sisters generally gather at least four times each day for prayer, our schedule will alter a bit during this time. For instance, on Holy Thursday our Sisters at the Clyde monastery have:
8 a.m. Lauds with Exposition beginning at 9 a.m.
1 p.m. Agape meal
4 p.m. Community reconciliation
6 p.m. Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Blessed Sacrament reserved until midnight
Also, several Sisters will take part in footwashing.
On Good Friday:
8 a.m. Lauds
3 p.m. Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion
On Holy Saturday:
8 a.m. Lauds
Noon Day Hour followed by dinner in silence
6 p.m. Vespers
And finally, Easter Sunday:
8:30 a.m. Lauds
11 a.m. Easter Liturgy
6 p.m. Vespers
7 p.m. Compline
Living together as a community is one of the most crucial aspects of our religious life. And it is at times like these, where we gather to mourn the death then celebrate the life of Christ, that we can share it together most heartedly. We hope you too have a place to go to observe this special time and fellow believers to share it with.
Mon 18 Apr, 2011
Our Sister Mary Jane Romero, OSB shares insight on the concept of Holy Saturday so others might more fully understand its meaning as we approach it later this week:
On Holy Thursday we are surrounded with rich and beautiful symbols and rituals: the washing of the feet, the breaking of bread, the sharing of one cup, singing, processions, the agape meal; on Good Friday the center of our attention is on the cross and what it means for us as Christians today when our world in many lands is suffering incredible brokenness, not unlike a crucifixion.
Good Friday allows us time to reflect and grapple with the mystery of suffering and death. Then comes Holy Saturday and there is emptiness, the tomb, the silence, the grief. Natures abhors a vacuum – an in-between time – and we hardly know what to do with it.
It is good to have that experience. It is one of incompleteness. Emptiness, with its inherent silence, can be a great teacher. It can also seem to be like a shallow and unproductive obstacle to doing or saying something that is worthwhile. After all, we are people of the WORD, people with a MISSION. How can a day that is so quiet and so strange be made a truly holy Saturday?
A passage from St. Paul speaks powerfully to me about what this day teaches, giving meaning and also a symbol to hold on to in our time of waiting: “…we carry around in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that the glory of Jesus may also be revealed in us….” (II Cor 4:10).
Each of us carries a burden within. Sometimes it feels like a sack of sand in our hearts or in our souls. Sometimes it is an unresolved problem with our past, with a friend, or with a decision. Whatever it is, it is heavy, and we long to be freed from its burden. It is at this point that we remember the dying of Jesus, the cross, the quiet tomb. We become that tomb where the dying of Jesus is real: it is now in us.
However, there is a reason we carry the dying of Jesus in our bodies and in our hearts and souls. The second part of Paul’s statement has a SO THAT: “…so that the glory of Jesus may also be revealed in us.”
What a consolation it is to know this! Any burden we hold, whether large or small, has a purpose. It is in and through our bearing the burdens of our lives that the glory of Jesus will be revealed.
If anyone reveals this truth, it is Mary, our Mother of Sorrows.
She truly bore the burden of the dying of Jesus in her body and in her heart and soul. The love she bore her Son in his life and in his death led her to be faithful.
It is her faith that brought her to know the glory of her Son would be revealed to her and to us. I believe that the resurrection of Jesus first happened in Mary’s heart, just as the incarnation happened in her body. Not being a theologian, I can speak only from intuition rather than from doctrinal teaching, but I know that Mary bore the burden of her Son’s dying with an undying belief in the glory to be revealed in him.
(first published in Spirit&Life magazine, March-April 2005)
Sat 16 Apr, 2011
The Sisters entered the 2-mile walk portion of the event. Due to heavy rains on Friday, they had to walk around the campus instead of along hiking trails. But it was still a great time for a great cause.