Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Begins with HOPE!

Happy Advent,

Today is the beginning of my favorite Church season. Advent's hope-filled waiting and melodies have always been a time when I find the most peace in the music, readings, and prayer of the season. The music of the monastery's chant is a bit more simple in both rhythm and melody which brings out the harmony of voices, Isaiah calls out to us to be aware and look about for the Messiah of God, and the prayer of the Church and her people directs us to a new awareness. The new year has begun in hope, and I hope to keep this focus throughout the year.

We have set up our Advent Wreath here in our convent apartment. The candles in a spiraling brass stand, set off with a few faux greens and a purple sash, but an Advent Wreath nonetheless, and our only decoration until we reach Christmas! As the lights climb, I hope that you will all be filled with the hope of this new season as well!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Balancing the Hyperdrive


Yesterday, we celebrated the 130th anniversary of the founding of Sacred Heart Monastery! I happily shared with all of my classes about our community's travels from the Swiss Alps to the vast flat lands of South Dakota. It was a wonderful day.

Then I realized something quite startling...our founding celebration is in the middle of November! If we were celebrating our founding, I was almost done with my first semester at school!

Balance, one of the central virtues in our Benedictine life, has been lost in the hyper-drive of my growing into this new ministry. Between figuring out how to teach a whole room of boys, relearning (or learning to teach) my catechism, navigating a new city, and trying to be a good partner to my sister, I've lost my balance. A good way to visualize my momentum is to consider the picture of the tiny cable car that took us up to the top of the Musenalp of Rickenbach, sliding down the mountain took only a fraction of the time that it took to get to the top of the mountain! The view was amazing, but it was hard to take the time to be aware of God in all the beauty.

I'm learning a lot from my boys, books, and the brothers (I love alliteration) of my new school, but it is all happening so fast that it is hard to bring it all into balance. I'm trying to keep my prayer and call to reflection on scripture and other holy reading in some equity with my work; however, my textbooks are on the desk more often than my candle is lit. I keep trying to slow the speed of my cable car as it rattles down the mountainside, I want to take time to be aware of God in the midst of my classroom and convent and commuting. I am most grateful for those I know are supporting my balance or making up for it from home...I remember with gratitude a whole monastery full of sisterly support .


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feast of St. Gertrude the Great

Happy Feast!

Two Prayers...maybe a story later...

O God of love and gentleness,
O Heart that abounds with loving kindnesss,
O Heart that overflows with charity,
O Heart that radiates pleasantness,
O Heart full of compassion,
We thank you for your heart full of love for us.
Invite us into your heart
that we may be totally transformed into love.
~Adapted by Sister Ruth Fox, OSB from the Exercises of St. Gertrude, VII

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life,
Your Heart is a glowing furnance of Love.
You are my refuge and my sancutary.
O my adorable and loving Savior,
Consume my heart and with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed.
Pour down on my soul those graces with flow from Your love.
Let my heart be untied with Yours.
Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things.
May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Burning Bush


I love the first hard freeze in the autumn.

Stepping out into the crisp autumn morning, breathing in the air; so clean and new that it bites the back of my throat and lungs. I had to stop and just breathe in autumn.

Leaving the hard cement, I strode onto the lawn, listening for the soft snap of each blade of grass. It was a marvelous, miracle to behold such simple creation painted with a delicate shimmer of God's glory.

Driving to school, I was drawn to watch the fields. So recently shorn of their bounty, the stubble from wheat and corn roll on and on over the hills like bolts of white silk.

Finally, I discover the the amazing work of the frost and nature. Stunned, I quietly touch the glistening leaves firey bright from the cool air. Yesterday, a simple shrub darkening with the end of the summer; today, a brilliant symbol of autumn and the joy of the change in creation.
Praise the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
in the living flame of the burning bush.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feast of St. Charles Borromeo

While in Rome this summer, our Benedictine group pilgrimaged to the Basilica di Santa Prassede. St. Charles Borromeo was a pastor and leader there during his time serving in Rome. One of the side chapels in the basilica is dedicated to his life of reform. This image shows not only the large marbel stone commemorating the many good works of his life but also the wooden table top (at the altar) where he served the poor and in body and spirit.

To the left of the chapel is his presiders chair, center the table top, and above St. Charles is pictured presiding at a mystic sacrifice.

Since his is my patron, I lit a candle (one of the few real ones in Rome, usually you light electric candles for some Euro) to ask for his intercession in finding a ministry position in teaching. He and God work in mysterious ways; my prayers were answered with a ministry position right before school started in an area that is new to me in a school with a very different population...but considering my patron was a reformer bringing a focus of pastoral outreach and care to the people, I shouldnt' be too surprised.
Blessings...and Happy Feast!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Feast of All Saints

Happy Feast Day,

I hope you are having a wonderful Feast of All Saints. As a theology teacher, I took advantage of my role to pull together a little prayer with my sophomore classes. I found a looooong litany of saints and inserted their patron saints from confirmation (mine too). I also brought in a few more of the women saints of our Church (doctors and foundresses) to round out the litany. A reading from St. Bernard's reflections about the Feast and our prayer was set.

All things considered, prayer went well. Different students led the litany's different sections and only a few saint names were creatively pronounced by my boys. We all sat fairly respectfully in chapel while praying; a few did drift into a more meditative state. But I was surprised by a question from both classes.

"What are those things over there?" The 'things' were the monks' display of reliquaries at the front of the chapel. While I borrowed the above picture from a general website, the monks display was quite beautiful. Some of their reliquaries were designed to look like church towers with all four sides encased in glass to display the relics of the saints; others were simple cross displays such as those above. I invited the boys to respectfully gather around the display and ask their questions. They wanted to know what the relics were, why we have these 'bit's and pieces' of the saints. They also asked about the elaborate displays and who the saints might be. As I shared about these ideas, it struck me that I hadn't thought about these things for a long time and took for granted that others knew and understood this collecting aspect of our Church. We were both amazed at how much I remembered about the topic.

May the Saints Bless you,