Sunday, July 29, 2018

Merton on Monasticism

Wherever you have [...] a small group attempting to do this thing, attempting to love God and serve him and reach union with him, you are bound to have some kind of monasticism. This kind of monasticism cannot be extinguished. It is imperishable. It represents an instinct of the human heart, and it represents a charism given by God to man [...] and because we believe this, we have given ourselves to the kind of life we have adopted.

I finished reading the book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own last week. It traced the intersection of the lives of Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and Thomas Merton. This quote from Merton comes right at the end of his life, when we was speaking at the conference in Asia where he died by electrocution.

As I read these words, I stopped once, and again, and then again. I needed to keep re-reading them because they struck me (male language notwithstanding!) so strongly. The monastic life is gift that God continually gives to the world.

Let us receive it.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Benedictine Travels

I had the opportunity to travel to Minnesota on Thursday to attend the American Benedictine Academy (ABA) conference at St. Benedict Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. This community finds its home just a few miles down the road from St. John’s in Collegeville.

The theme of the conference was Artisans of the Monastery, or Chapter 57 of the Rule of Benedict. We heard thoughtful presentations on the creative process, viewed some art from both communities and other Benedictines, sang hymns together written by Benedictines, and enjoyed each other’s company.

I was struck by many moments throughout the time, most especially listening to a monk from St. John’s read his poetry. He first started writing at the age of 75, and he is now in his 90’s! But, what I loved about that particular experience was that Fr. Killian only has use of one eye, so his brother monk gently helped him read the words on the page. It was a true moment of tenderness and mutual love.

We witnessed some incredible needlework of the sisters from St. Benedict Monastery, and we got to see the 28 pages of the St. John’s Bible that were on display presently. My time there renewed some of the creative fire inside myself, which is always a great gift.

Let us be grateful for the inspiration of art and creativity in our lives.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

 Incredible needlework from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s; this was part of a massive vestment.

Another piece of needlework; Saint George and the Dragon

And even more amazing, the backside of the piece—nearly identical to the front!

We spent time praying with the foundress of Benedictine life in the United States—Benedictica Riepp

The Magnificat in St. John’s Bible

A little bit of home in Minnesota—grapevines—though not quite as many!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Our God is Here

The first step of Benedictine humility is to keep the reverence of God always before us.

For our current formation class, we are diving into Torah. This past week we focused on Leviticus, which while challenging because of all the laws, has some definite richness. Our teacher, one of our sisters, talked to us about the belief regarding the tabernacle present to the community. It was right there. And the people believe that it held God. God was right there. Changed the way one followed the laws a bit, no? God is right there.

This got me reflecting pretty quickly. Do I live from my belief that God is right here? Do I live the first step of humility? In the dailinesss/busyness/quickness of life, I probably don’t do it too well. How easy it is to forget that my call as Christian, and even more so, as Benedictine, is to live the truth that, indeed, God is here. It changes everything, as it should. We sing it in one of my favorite songs at Liturgy, too:

Here in this time, here in this place,
here we are standing face to face.
Here in our hearts, here in our lives,
our God is here.

Here for the broken, here for the strong,
here in this temple we belong.
Here in our hearts, here in our lives,

our God is here.

And we cry:
“Holy! Holy! Holy are you!”
We cry: “Holy! Holy! Holy and true!”
Amen, we do believe our God is here.
Our God is here.

Beyond asking for the grace, how do we keep God always present in our actions, words, and experiences? How do we allow this truth to transform the way we live?

Amen, we do believe our God is here.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

I’m Back (and grateful)

Yes, I have been gone for awhile. After wrapping up a lovely two weeks participating in the Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality, I headed out of town to help facilitate a retreat and take a bit of R&R time with a friend.

Between great and profound spiritual reflection with the group of young women at the institute, the experience of facilitating a retreat, lots of support from my sisters, and the gift of time with a dear friend, I am full and a bit unable to put into words what the past few weeks have held for me.

But I have been reflecting quite a bit on what it means to be a woman, in all its complexity and fullness—though part of the reflection came from the seeing the wonderful documentary about Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I think the thing that was most beautifully and well conveyed in the film was the ability of Fred Rogers to take the complexity and fullness of humanity and simplify them into daily lessons and the call to love. (I did tell someone that I found the film to be very Benedictine—dailiness and love!)

Women have such an ability to be present to the dailiness of life while simultaneously maintaining perspective on the big picture—the creation of the reign of God. I’ve watched many women do this in specific and unique ways through the institute and other personal experiences. Each time I was awed, gobsmacked, and grateful.

Here’s to the women in our lives who daily teach us to love.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

While on a walk at the lake a friend pointed out how the fallen branch was still getting enough moisture to produce new leaves.

a beautiful wood carving of John the Baptist crying out

 We did some pie making, which turned out to be quite tricky in hot, humid summer weather when crust requires very chilled ingredients! But the result was delicious!

 prayer time with dripping candles

back into the beauty of Erie summers

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time      to linger           for just a little while                out of your busy and very important day      for t...