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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Sacred Future

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There are three different orders of women religious in Erie: the Benedictine Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This past Thursday many of us joined together, along with others, to listen to a panel of women and men religious discuss religious life and its future.

A Benedictine sister, a Mercy sister, a Cistercian monk, and a Franciscan friar comprised the panel and answered the questions of what brought them to religious life, what religious life means to them, and where they see religious life headed in the future. All four provided wise insights, especially for me as I enter into this new way of life.

One highlight for me was hearing again the Pedro Arrupe, SJ quote that many Jesuit-educated
students know and love:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what …

Peace on Earth

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Today marks the final day of our Pope's visit to the United States. I loved watching him emerge from the airplane yesterday and step foot in my dear Philadelphia. I am also grateful for his message last night at the Festival of Families:

"All that is beautiful leads us to God. Because God is good, God is beautiful, God is true. Thank you all those who have offered their witness."

His message of love and mercy can transform if we become the hands and feet of Christ, like St. Teresa reminds us.
Yesterday afternoon I participated in an event called "On the Move." It was an opportunity for the community to join together and offer witness to the fact that we, as Christ's hands and feet, are called to be stewards of our earth. Groups came from the north, south, east, and west and met in a plaza where we celebrated with music and addresses that united us with one another and with our planet. As our group walked from the east, we chanted together, "Peace on Ear…

One Month

Today marks one month since I moved into Mount Saint Benedict to begin my postulancy. What an amazing journey with this community so far!

Two days ago when I was reading the Gospel reflection from Notre Dame, I read these words about Jesus:

He knew that if his followers had to rely on others, they would come to rely on God.

After sharing this line with a few sisters, I had fruitful conversations about learning to trust and what it really means to rely on God. Jesus sends out his disciples to heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom of God. He also calls them to take nothing with them for the journey. So, we are called to do the same. This is scary stuff! So far, for me, community makes it seem more possible. I have been so grateful for the love and support of the sisters in this community.

This morning I was absolutely peaceful and joyful during Morning Prayer, reflecting on these beautiful Benedictine women. Then, I read this line in the Psalms:

Happy are they who rely on God.

As I looke…

Slowing Down

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In addition to the Liturgy of the Hours, another prayer form at the heart of Benedictine life is lectio divina. Lectio divina is a slow, prayerful reading of Scripture that incorporates meditation and contemplation. There are traditionally four parts: lectio (reading), meditatio (reflecting), oratio (praying in response), and contemplatio (resting with the words). Benedictines devote themselves to daily practice of this form of prayer.

Lectio divina was the topic of our monastic values class tonight. Our teacher, one of our sisters, shared with us a fifth category that we might consider adding: incarnatio (becoming the word). If we do not allow the words to convert us into more loving, more compassionate people, then what?

Each postulant is paired with one sister in the community to be her lectio partner. We meet once a week and discuss Sunday's Gospel. Throughout the week we pray with the piece of Scripture and bring our reflections with us into sacred conversation. I had my firs…

A (Sun)day in The Life

Each time that I talk to someone from home, I want to be able to convey how much happens each and every day here at the Mount - our monastery. And even if I were able to talk to everyone that I wanted to each day, I would not be able to tell them everything that is happening. So, I figured I would give you a rundown of my day today so you might get a glimpse of the amount of life lived in a day.

(Note: Today is Sunday, so that makes it a bit different from the weekdays, but I will try to do one of those rundowns in the future.)

I began my morning by listening to the latest episode of On Being, my favorite radio show. While listening to that, I received a text from a friend asking if it was too early to talk, and it wasn't. So, I talked to her for a bit.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, our community prays together at 8:30am. Today was the first day that I read Scripture at prayer. As I got a bit nervous, it was good to remind myself that I didn't live or die by how well I read…

Because I Could Never Confine This to Only My Own Words...

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Any Morning
William Stafford

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.


I think this poem a perfect prayer for the morning. Have a wonderful day!
Let us walk in the holy presence.
the view out my window - another perfect prayer

Heard It Through the Grapevine

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If I were to list all the things that give me joy here in Erie, the list would be long. We can save some of the list for later. But, right now, I need to write about something that is happening right now.

As most of you know, I have only been riding a bike for one-ninth of my life. (Thanks to Meg and Chris for getting that statistic rolling...on two wheels!) Riding my bike gives me great joy. I love the feeling of freedom I have when cruising along.

It is sometimes difficult to feel free when riding your bike in the city with stop-and-go traffic, but our monastery is situated outside the city limits - in Harborcreek Township. There are plenty of open roads with little car traffic. And in our region along the coast of Lake Erie, vineyards are everywhere, including right around the corner. I only have to ride about a mile before I begin encountering grapevines.

And this is the season of ripening grapes. So, right now, as I pedal along these back roads, I get a special treat - the smell …

True Signs

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While on retreat this past weekend, I came across some words that I had been encountering back at home. The first was a quote from Aquinas, "Grace builds on nature." The second was Psalm 139.

At the social after our first session, we had a chance to chat with our presenter, Lynn. I mentioned these encounters with words as we talked about truth. She reminded us that truth will keep presenting itself over and over again. So, I know these are probably important words for my journey right now.

Of course, when I got home from retreat, I re-encountered words from her presentation, a quote from the Cheryl Strayed book, Wild (a great read, by the way):

It was enough to trust that what I'd done was true. To understand its meaning without being able to say precisely what it was...It was my life - like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.

The only way to encounter truth, it seems, is to take time to notice, to be …

Fully, Freely, Lovingly

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This weekend, I received the great gift of hearing Lynn Levo, CSJ present at an inter-community retreat for women and men religious in formation. The theme of the weekend was exploring how to live fully, freely, and lovingly through our first vocation - being human, while also learning how we express ourselves as humans who are living a consecrated life.

I was most grateful for Lynn's openness and vulnerability; she was a living, breathing model of the weekend's theme. More than once she reminded us of our call to communion with ourselves, with God, and with others, defining communion in two ways:
1. To be one with without losing yourself
2. To be one with diversity

In relation to communion, Lynn also said more than once, "I cannot be me without you. You cannot be you without me." We need each other. And I will certainly need more than one entry to write about my weekend as I reflect on all I heard.

I am so grateful for all the awareness I gain from walking with my f…

I Have Called You By Name

Hello, Nation! (Yes, I am excited about Stephen Colbert's premiere on the Late Show; some things don't change.) This, too, is a premiere of sorts for me - a new adventure within a much bigger new adventure.

It has now been a week and a half since the Benedictine Sisters of Erie officially welcomed me into their community as a postulant. When friends back on the east coast of Pennsylvania asked how they would know what was happening in my life, I said I was thinking about writing a blog to update everyone.

Blogs are a wonderful, potentially creative way to inform many people, but blogs need names. And, with hopes that this might be something that lasts over time, I wanted to be sure that I chose the perfect title.

I received a few suggestions and came up with a few of my own, but I figured I would know when I found "the one," just as I had known that I found "the one" worth exploring when I encountered this particular community.

We, as a community, pray the Litu…