Monday, March 28, 2011

Dear God...what the heck!

Greetings, Well, Sisters, family, and friends be warned! God is laughing at Nebraska! One week ago it was over 70 degrees, last Tuesday we had tornadoes; then it got cold, wet and snowy for a couple days. All of the snow melted over the weekend, but is hovering just around 40 and SNOWING again! So, I return to my heading. Dear God what the heck is going on? The high school boys were a bit more despondent about the weather forecast. Apparently, snow isn't conducive to running miles of track, shooting trap, passing soccer balls or playing baseball, and they expressed this discontent all throughout the morning classes. I did greet them all cheerily and blessed their "good Monday mornings". I pointed out the beauty of the fluffy snow against the evergreens on the school and monastery grounds. I considered (aloud) the blessing of the nutrients in the snow for the farmers fields. They listened a bit grumpily, and decided that they still weren't happy about the snow. I may be befuddled by it, but watching it now outside of our convent is lovely. Blessings,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chapter of What???


Our service to high school boys has been keeping me on the go! I have been trying to keep a few days ahead of my fast thinking Junior Boys and energetic Freshmen while writing out my curriculum and reading up on the theology framework changes that will be implemented in just a year. On top of it all, I've begun planning for my absence at school for our Chapter of Election. (How did it get to be only a week away?)

I recently sent out my e-mail all-call for help in filling my class times during my absence. Without thinking, I simply named my reason for being gone as our Chapter of Election. The first e-mail noted my lack of clarification by responding with the subject heading "Chapter of What???" Ah...this needed a bit of explanation.

The folk here were amazed at the process, time, and prayer that we spend on choosing our Prioress! They were even more surprised to learn that not only do all of us have a vote and voice in the election, but that so many of us are eligible for nomination by our peers. I kept returning to Benedict's recommendation that all the members of the community be gathered for important decisions so that all the wisdom from the eldest to youngest could be heard. The Junior boys thought this was a great idea and wanted to know if they could "send in" recommendations too; I reminded them this was a 'members only' meeting.

All have promised to keep us in prayer during the discernment. In this manner, I've asked them to petition Our Lady, Maria of Rickenbach...a good way of sharing our Swiss connection and prayer all at the same time.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Feast of Saint Benedict

Happy Feast!

Today, we celebrate the feast of Benedict's death. This feast is a bit more subdued since it is in the midst of Lent; our solemnity is celebrated with the Church feast on July 11th. However, we do remember his passing with story and song. My boys at school were a bit unsure of creating a feastday for someone's death, but I did try to point out it could been seen as his birth to new life...they didn't buy it. So I added this story from St. Gregory the Great to illustrate.

"In that same year when he was to leave this life, he foretold the day of his most holy death to some disciples living with him and to others living some distance away. He told the former to keep silent about what they heard and explained to the later what kind of sign would be seen when his soul would leave his body.

Six days before his death, he ordered his tomb to be opened. Soon he was attacked by fever and was weakened with severe suffereing. As the illness grew worse every day, he asked his disciples to carry him into the oratory. there he strengthened himself for his departure by receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord. While the hands of his disciples held up his weak limbs, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and breathed his last breath amidst words of prayer."

We will be commemorating the feast a bit simply here at our apartment convent. Prayer for the feast with special Psalms and responsory, steak on the electric grill, and maybe a game or two of Bannanagrams or Perquacky! I think Benedict would approve of the balance between prayer and play within community.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Joy and Sorrow


There is a mix of sorrow and joy as our elders grow old.

The joy is in their wisdom from a lived spiritual experience that spans many decades of peaks and valleys in community life as well as their own. Whether she is the baker, professor, or former prioress, her voice of experience of God's love can be both a challenge and a comfort. This is a joy I have grown to appreciate more and more. When I was away at university, I missed the wisdom from our elders and tradition...the sisters I was living with had good wisdom and offered support, but there is just something about our family way of helping each other.

The sorrow grows slowly as our elders grow old. During my last year at university, Sister Baker died and I felt the loss of my confidant and counselor. Now that my ministry is closer to home, I try to take advantage of the distance and visit more often. However, time marches on. Sister Professor doesn't always recognize me even though we have spent countless hours puzzling way at crosswords together and sharing stories of family, teaching, and prayer. Another Sister Professor has been slowly slipping away these past years and we miss her wisdom dearly. We care for them with tender love, wait with them for their Beloved, and cherish their presence while they remain.

There is a great joy in these wisdom figures, elders of our Benedictine family.
I cannot imagine our growth in learning to live in Obedience, Converstatio or Stability without them.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011



Tomorrow, I will be at home in the Monastery for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our Lenten celebration. After being at school or university for the past many celebrations of this day, I am excited to be home as we settle into our Lenten observances. Yes, excited to be home for Wednesday soup night, morning silence, and the sisterly support of additional prayer and reflection. I'll even be home in time for the Mass we share with the college students and the Vesper's collection of the sisters personal observances for Lent.

Benedict had encouraged his monks to live their whole monastic life as a Lent; however, if it cannot be done, the monk was to consult with the Abbott about special offerings during this season of preparation. Reflection on chapter 49 from the Rule has lead me to ponder on my own "offering to God with the Joy of the Holy Spirit something of the measure required..." I have come to some conclusions of offerings of heart that I will pray will help me offer better service to God. When I return home to my convent apartment, I pray that we can discern some community Lenten observances to bring from the Monastery to convent to help each other continue to live this offering in the spirit of Benedict.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Break...and Bingo


Happy feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity! Women who bravely claimed the name Christian when threatened with death. The noblewoman and her serving girl were both mothers, or soon to be so, and knew they would be leaving behind their children to the care of others in the love of the Lord. They are a reminder for me of the blessing I have had in my family and especially in how my parents have shared their faith over the years.

The one of the surprise blessings I have discovered at my new ministry is the gift of spring break. This is the first high school I've served at that plans for a week of time off during early March. This is how I find myself at home with my parents for a few days at the end of my 3rd quarter of school!

Sunday was time for Church, Brunch, grocery shopping, and bingo! The parent association at our elementary school was holding a fundraiser and social gathering, and Dad and I dragged Mom off to play some bingo. Six dollars bought you one card for twenty games of bingo. The space was filled with old and young, alumns and parents, as well as friends old and new. I caught up with parents of classmates, met a few of my Dad's students, and greeted a few of the Church elders who were more than happy to see me home for break. Mom patiently waited through our twenty games while Dad played, silently bid on a few prizes, and considered buying raffle tickets...such a social butterfly. In the end, we won nothing but had a great time.

This time at home is wonderful. Time set aside to visit family and friends has long been a part of our community's tradition. Once, sisters could visit home every FIVE years! Now, we are allowed two weeks each year for vacation time. I usually break this up to a week during the summer, a few days over Christmas break, and now a few days over spring break. This helps me in the balance between my Community of Sisters and my family. Well, I'm off...Mom has tidbits to share from all the extended family news!