Showing posts from October, 2015

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Opening up our home to eighty or so friends last weekend gave me a great opportunity for reflection, as do most of the things that happen to me right now!

When I first heard sisters refer to the Mount as "the house" (which was before I became a postulant), it threw me off a bit. What? The house? It sounded so weird. It's a monastery.


Now the Mount is my house, and I get it. We have a kitchen. We have a dining room. We have a living room. We have bedrooms. We have guest rooms. We have family rooms. We have a basement where we store things. We have friends over. We have chores.

We just have it all on a big scale. Because we have a big family living here.

I am slowly learning how slow the process of gaining a "wide view" can be. But, as you witness more and more diversity, it happens. Living in a different home makes it happen. And yes, helping with the process of setting up, welcoming, hosting, and cleaning up when we had our friends over for the weekend m…

Precious Moments

Last month when we went on retreat, our presenter, Lynn Levo, CSJ, spent a great deal of time on the topic of intimacy: intimacy with self, intimacy with others, and more. It broadened my perspective on what intimacy is: opening myself up fully. But there are so many ways to do that; we can be intimate in more ways than just the first one that comes to most minds. There is intellectual, crisis, spiritual, communicative, creative, and aesthetic intimacy, among others.

I had heard the word broken down before. Intimacy: in-to-me-see. Lynn's presentation gave me an opportunity to reflect on what that really looks like in the daily, where Benedict reminds us we live as spiritual beings - in the nitty gritty of the day.

Something with which I have struggled here is that I find it difficult to articulate what makes my days so darn special and wonderful right now. Yes, I witness and partake in beautiful prayer and liturgies. Yes, I am so well supported on the journey. Yes, I have opportun…

Biking in the Holy Presence

Let us bike in the holy autumnal presence.


This weekend at the Mount, you can feel excitement. We are holding our community weekend where our oblates join us and either begin or renew their commitment to live with Benedictine spirit.

This means that we have about 80 oblates here with us at the Mount today. A few people started arriving earlier this week, but we officially began last night. Our speaker is Elizabeth Dreyer, who wrote the book, Accidental Theologians. She is speaking about women and the Church. Her chosen themes for the weekend include:

Women, Tradition, Reform, Church, World, Conversation, Holy Spirit, Prophecy, Communion of Saints, Justice, and Hope

Not a bad list!

Another exciting part of a weekend like this is that our out-of-town sisters come home to be with us. So, with all of this, there is lots of beautiful energy filling our home right now! Yesterday afternoon, there was a knock on my door. One sister who lives out of town brought me a plant. She said that she and the other sister with whom she lives beg…

Springing Up

I spent the first month of my postulancy spending time at many of our community's ministries to see where I might like to be on a regular basis. I went to our Neighborhood Art House; I went to our food pantry; I went to our Kids' Cafe; I went to our education center where we work with adults; I visited the office of the Alliance for International Monasticism; I explored a few other odds and ends. I experienced many people and places, and I gained a greater appreciation for just how much our community is doing for the city of Erie and beyond.

But, I also spent a lot of time at our childhood development center, Saint Benedict Center (SBC). Yesterday, as I discussed this coming week's gospel with my lectio partner, the phrase "sprang up" called her. She asked me, "For what do you spring up?" I quickly responded, "The kids." After visiting the first time, I also knew very quickly that I wanted SBC to be my ministry. The kids there are just great k…

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Over the weekend, we (in formation) traveled to Bristow, VA for an east coast Benedictine formation conference. The title of the presentation was "The Benedictine Way: A Journey To Wisdom." Our presenter, a Benedictine sister from the Pittsburgh community, provided wonderful reflections on the word "wisdom," which allowed us to make connections to our growing understanding of monasticism.

But, more than that, the weekend provided me with an opportunity to experience another Benedictine monastery. I made a remark to one of my sisters that you can feel the difference when you are in a Benedictine home compared to the homes of other orders; there is a sense of hospitality that I have yet to experience anywhere else. From the welcoming at the door, to the open recliner to watch Notre Dame beat USC (Go Irish!), and even a Mucinex for my congestion, I felt the Benedictine heart of hospitality in each experience throughout the weekend.

So, on the way home, when we reflect…

Thank You, Again, Stephen

Please do yourself a favor this weekend and enjoy the interview between Stephen Colbert and Oprah Winfrey from Thursday night's show. How wonderful that two celebrities openly shared dialogue about faith and belief on network television. We need more of this. Here is a bit of the interview.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

A Change in the Weather

I decided to go for a bike ride when I got home this afternoon. I was pedaling up the road, and the wind started rolling, the rain drops starting dripping. I started pedaling harder. I couldn't help but sing with Teresa de Avila, who we celebrate today:

Nothing shall disturb you, Nothing frighten you, Patience obtains all things, In God you lack for nothing, For God never changes, God alone is enough.
I thought I would make it home before the sky broke open, but as I made my last turn, I was proven wrong. Evidence:
The weather has been changing fast; at dinner there was talk of the first frost! Yesterday I went for a walk during my reflection day. I think this picture of Lake Erie captures the season nicely.

This weekend, we will travel to Bristow, VA for a formation conference with other monasteries on the east coast. I will report back next week!
Let us walk in the holy presence.

Turn, Turn, Turn

It is official - fall has arrived. My mother and grandmother have been visiting the past few days, and yesterday we were fortunate enough to take in some of the glorious colors as we visited a local winery, a local farm, and Findley Lake.

Findley Lake

fall colors
I have many more trees surrounding me here in Erie as compared to life back in Philadelphia, so it has been easier to pay attention to the changing colors. Monastics are called to conversatio morum, or conversion of life. Monastics recognize that each day is a new start, an opportunity to do better than yesterday. We are called to change and to grow. Trees are nature's way of reminding me of this call.

As my first class on monastic values has ended, I have started a class about the Liturgy of the Hours. We took some time to do lectio reading with parts of the Rule of Benedict relating to prayer. Often times, Benedict adjusts prayer according to the season. As I commented on living with the natural cycle of the earth, we beg…


My lectio partner and I met earlier this week. She had picked up a book of poetry, but later realized that she already had a copy. I benefitted! The book is called, Love Poems From God. Daniel Ladinsky compiled poetry from twelve different men and women, some of which include Rumi, St. Francis of Assisi, Hafiz, and St. Teresa of Avila - a pretty strong line-up!

This week's gospel reading brings to our attention the importance of relationship - relationship with others and relationship with God. I found these words from St. Catherine of Siena a comforting reminder of our relationship with our Creator. The title is The Foundation of God.

My perfect Lord sang,
"Less likely is God to condemn my hand's action than condemn any soul."
How could that be possible, my heart thought?
And the Christ, knowing all minds, replied,
"Forgiveness is the foundation of God's being."
What are you doing to build relationships in your life right now?
Let us walk in the holy presence.

A Single Ray of Light

When writing a blog was still just an idea that I had, I was telling a sister about it while we were driving home one day. At that point I was still on the search for the right name for the blog. As we were chatting, I was telling her about some of the things that I was noticing at the monastery. She kept saying, "That's a blog post right there!" I hadn't thought of these experiences that way before she pointed it out. She was able to see the worth of each moment that I was sharing with her; I was grateful for her perspective.

To be attentive to the life around us takes practice. To recognize the beauty in all the life around us takes even more practice. On Monday night we wrapped up our monastic values class. Some values of monasticism include: prayer, work, community, peace, holy leisure, and stewardship. As Benedictines, our daily practices should cultivate these values in our lives. Being attentive certainly plays a role in this cultivation.

I think that being at…

One Origin

I have been spending my weekend sitting in on a retreat offered here at the Mount called "Seasons of the Spirit." Our sister who facilitates these retreats put together a wonderful program on the topic of pursuing peace. We spent Saturday listening to perspectives on Rosa Parks, Thomas Gumbleton, the women martyrs in El Salvador, Thomas Merton, and Pope Francis.
We also did a communal painting activity where we sat in a group of four. Each person used a different shade of green as we passed papers around our table. We had to listen to what was already on the paper before we added our own brush strokes. At night we were treated to a documentary about Bishop Gumbleton, learning about his ministry of nonviolence.
It was a great experience, but it was a different experience for me. This was the first time that I attended a retreat as a member of the hosting community. My perspective changed as a result. So, I started thinking about the way that our identity affects our perspecti…

Honest Truth

Thank you, Stephen Colbert. (Watch the first two minutes, in particular.)

Let us walk in the holy presence.


Only the Essentials

In the spirit of trying new things (like, you know, a whole new way of living!) I have embraced another change in my life. For the past three weeks, I have been transitioning out of shampoo and conditioner and into baking soda and vinegar. Before you call me crazy, I'm not the only one!

This move has prompted some interesting conversation at the dinner table as I explain my choice to sisters in the community. My reason for swapping out the shampoo is to go natural. Our scalp, as well as the rest of our body, naturally produces an oil called sebum; it is what makes our hair oily. Rather than using chemicals to get rid of those oils, I am using baking soda. I can't lie - the baking soda leaves your hair a bit gritty. This is where the apple cider vinegar comes in; it does a great job rinsing out and conditioning. The goal of this whole experiment is to balance out the sebum production, which can be elevated through the use of too much shampoo.

So - is it working? Well, I think s…