What do surfing and Benedictine spirituality have in common?

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 0 Comments

In a recent class with Sister Paz Vital and Novice Denise West, we discussed the Benedictine promise of stability. Sometimes stability is thought of as staying in the same place with the same people for the rest of your life. Stability has that aspect to it, but there is more. Michael Casey, Cistercian monk from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, uses the image of a surf boarder to describe the dynamic character of Benedictine stability. A surfer needs both a strong center and an ability to adjust her weight and position of her feet on the board in order to maintain …

Learning from the forest

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

I recently listened to a TED talk by Suzanne Simard entitled, “How Trees Talk to Each Other.” Suzanne is a forest ecologist in British Columbia, Canada. Her research over the past 30 years has shown that forests are not just a collection of individual trees. Rather the trees in a forest are connected and communicate with each other through a vast, complex underground network of fungal highways called a mycorrhizal network. Through these networks trees transmit carbon and water, as well as defense signals when a tree is injured by disease or insects. Within this communication network there are hub …

Benedictine Sisters win international Assisi Award for conservation efforts spanning more than 60 years

Holy Wisdom Monastery Care for the Earth, Living in Community, Uncategorized 2 Comments

The Benedictine Sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery received the inaugural Assisi Award for faith-based conservation at the 28th International Congress of Conservation Biology’s Opening Ceremony on July 23, 2017 in Cartagena, Colombia in front of nearly 1,500 attendees. The Assisi Award acknowledges organizations and individuals whose work demonstrates that faith-based conservation is contributing significantly to the common global effort of conserving life on Earth. Sisters Mary David Walgenbach and Joanne Kollasch accepted the award on behalf of their religious community located near Madison, Wisconsin. Their community is the first ecumenical Benedictine community in North America where Catholic and Protestant women …

Get ahold of yourself

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 0 Comments

Recently I’ve been pondering the story in Matthew 14:22-33. This is the story of Jesus coming across the water at night to the disciples who are being tossed around by a storm on the lake. I am often drawn to the interaction between Peter and Jesus in Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water to Jesus. But this time, the line that caught my attention was “Take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid.” My lectio led me to consider how I might look for Jesus coming to me in the stormy times of my life. At midday prayer …

Two icons depicting the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah: Abraham & Sarah carrying food and drink and three guests seated at table

Welcoming the future

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community, Spirituality Articles 3 Comments

In preparing some thoughts on hospitality to share with our Benedictine Women of Madison Board, I came across an article Sister Joanne Kollasch wrote in 1984 for a meeting of the American Benedictine Academy. She includes a quote from a conference by the late Demetrius Dumm, OSB, a monk and Scripture scholar from St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, PA. It sent my thinking about hospitality in a new direction. Here is what Demetrius Dumm said: In Scripture, the entertaining of guests and the entertaining of strangers is the entertaining of mystery; this is to make room for that which is not …

Newly blossoming lupine on the prairie. Always we begin again.

Always we begin again

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 3 Comments

I stopped short, confused. The sign read: “New Prairie Planting. This is no longer a trail.” But this was the path I always took, what had happened in my absence? As I continued walking, I encountered identical signs all over the north prairie of the monastery. The little meandering side paths I used to travel were no longer available to me. Instead a large central path had been recently mown, clearly directing the way I should go. The signs were evidence of a new trail design, but I couldn’t get past my frustration. Things had changed. I wanted what I’d …

Susan Pearson receives a hug from Sister Mary David Walgenbach with Sister Lynne Smith standining close by.

Providing opportunities for transformation

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 2 Comments

Over the years when people have worked with the sisters on marketing and getting the word out about the monastery, they often ask, “What is your product?” They are trying to help us articulate clearly the benefit the monastery provides to the public. It is a good marketing question, but it has never felt as if it quite fits what the monastery does. At the recent oblate retreat when the oblate candidates were sharing their personal rules and their experiences during the candidate year, it came to me that the “product” the monastery provides is transformed people. Actually that is …

figure kneeling in prayer with Holy Spirit hovering above

The power of God’s sustaining presence

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Homilies, Living in Community 0 Comments

We enter into Holy Week with millions of people suffering in Syria, in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and so many other places in our world. As I reflected on Jesus’ suffering on the cross, I wondered what help and hope the crucifixion and resurrection gives us. I find that hope and help in the silent presence of God even in the midst of suffering. Often it is only in looking back that we can see that Presence in times of suffering. Occasionally we experience this sustaining Presence in the moment.   _______________________________  Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday homily                                         Lynne Smith, OSB …

The Last Days

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 20 Comments

It’s early April 2017 and I am approaching the final stretch of my master’s degree in scripture at Saint John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, MN. I’ve immersed myself in New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew, taken theology and scripture classes, read volumes, written graduate level exegetical papers—all in preparation for this last semester of examinations. The next and last hurdle is my oral comprehensive exam, today, as I sit before a panel of professors who will probe my competence in the field of scripture and decide if I have demonstrated the level of proficiency required to have earned a …

Oblates gathering in community

What is community?

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 0 Comments

People often come to the monastery looking for community. Community is a slippery word that is used with a wide range of meanings and lots of unspoken expectations. We talk about community around the monastery because community is central to Benedictine life. But the question remains: what is community? We probably each have different understandings and expectations of what it means. I recently came across one definition that seems simple and helpful. It doesn’t say everything, yet it is a place to start. Charles Vogl, in his article, “Behind every strong leader is a strong community,” defines community as: “a …