Thursday, April 21, 2011

Silence Begins...


Prayer began at 5 o'clock with a foot washing service for the Monastic community. The Prioress, Sub-prioress, and Procurator sat on the floor of our Chapter Room and washed the feet of the sisters...from this simple and humble reminder of service, we gathered in the refectory for a agape meal, a joyful celebration of our love for each other. This meal stretched on into 6:30 when sisters began to filter out to prepare for our celebration of the Lord's Supper.

We sang the Pange Lingua as we processed from Bishop Marty Chapel to our small St. Joseph's chapel near the care center. This year I noticed a line in our translation from St. Meinrad's that I hadn't noticed before. Verse 3: At the last, the paschal supper, with the friends before they fled, first he ate the meal of passage; Paschal lamb and Paschal bread; then himself as food he offered, so that many might be fed. I had never noticed the mention of this being his last meal with his friends before they fled in the garden. When I returned to the Upper Chapel, the doors of Our Lady of Einsiedeln are closed, the tabernacle doors beneath her are open and empty, the candles and altar cloths are carried away, and even the curtains are drawn back from behind the high cross. I don't want to flee from this emptiness...

The Triduum silence has begun at the Monastery. The procession with the Blessed Sacrament to be reposed in our St. Joseph chapel brought close to our joyous agape and has begun the subsequent time of adoration and prayer.

May God Bless your Triduum,

Anticipating Triduum


The Monastery is abuzz with preparations for our Triduum celebrations!

I awoke early to get ready for the day, but not earlier than our Sister Baker. When I opened my curtain at 7AM to look out on the world, I could see right across the courtyard into the brightly lit bakery. She already had dough on the table and the 'proofing' room filling up with breads special for the feasts: the round loaves of sweet, soft agape bread and the rings of cinnamon laced sweet bread.

After morning prayer, the sisters in charge of environment (candles and cloths) began to take down the purple in the Peace Chapel. Since we will be praying the Upper Chapel (Bishop Marty Chapel) through all of Triduum and through the Easter Octave, the sisters might not set out the new candles and cloths just yet...but we will be preparing the Upper Chapel this afternoon. Holy Thursday's environment needs to include clean space in the sacristy to place all the goods of the Sanctuary after the altar is stripped as well as adding new environment to the smaller St. Joseph Chapel (for our care center sisters) where the reserved Sacrament will be taken tonight. Helping to prepare our Chapel for these sacred celebrations allows me to move from the busyness of my school days to the centering on our celebrations of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection during this Triduum.

This afternoon also includes some community fun. The sisters in our care center dye the Easter eggs for the whole Monastery! Those of us who can join them in this colorful community collaboration have some good old family fun. It is interesting to see which sisters favor which colors and the artists that come out of each one of us. I also love to hear the stories the sisters tell of their childhood memories of Easter egg coloring at home or how they celebrated earlier in community life.

However, I am most excited for...our silence...I know, you're shocked. I really am looking forward to our time of deep quiet and reflection that begins with the transfer of the Sacrament at the end of our Holy Thursday Mass and continues through Good Friday and only comes to an end after Lauds on Holy Saturday. The whole Monastery is focused on this deep awareness of God in our midst. My students and the faculty both seemed a bit surprised at this quiet that I was excited to be joining. One of the Junior boys joked that he didn't think his mom or sister could go a few hours much less a whole day and a half without talking. I told him that he might be surprised at how much those same folk might love a bit of silence in their day...he didn't believe me.


Thursday, April 14, 2011


As the end of Lent begins to draw near and Holy Week approaches, I find myself thinking back to the time I was able to spend in our Benedictine study in Rome last summer. I keep returning to our time in St. Peter's Basilica and statue commemorating Veronica's compassionate care for Christ. It was always an image that captured my imagination while growing up, and to see her towering above the pilgrims with the sign of her gentle tending of Christ's needs unfurled before us all but took my breath away. I just wanted to share with you the Veronica that has been foremost in my thoughts as we journey through our Lent.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Chapter of Election


Chapter 64 of the Rule explains that "In choosing an abbot, the guiding principle should always be that the man placed in office be the one selected either by the whole community acting unanimously in the fear of God, or by some part of the community, no matter how small, which possesses some sounder judgment. Goodness of life and wisdom in teaching must be the criteria for choosing the one to be made abbot, even if he is the last in community rank."

We spent four days in prayerful discernment during our Chapter of Election. It was an amazing experience to consider all the sisters' gifts & talents, and how those could be shared as the prioress of our community. All throughout the prayer and discussion and prayer and balloting and prayer and more voting, I found a great peace in the faith that Jesus Christ was guiding our discernment through the gift of the Spirit (for which we prayed at every celebration of our Liturgy of the Hours). The culmination of these days was our 'canonical' election which is the decisive balloting for prioress. Our sister Penny Bingham was chosen as prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery.

Following the election were the two most enheartening parts of the whole process (for me). We all approached Sr. Penny, placed our hands in hers or hugged her, and offered our support. I have to admit to a few tears in my eyes as our elders would come up to her and offer their prayers with great love in their voices. The agape with wine and homemade bread was a wonderfully joy filled time as well. The sisters celebrated in the Chapter room with Sr. Baker's fresh bread in one hand, a bit of wine in the other, and greeted each other with hope, joy, and faith-filled anticipation for our future. It was beautiful to listen to the blessed sound of laughter fill the room.