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 …

Painting - The Call of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio

Chiaroscuro – light and dark in Lent

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 6 Comments

It was Ash Wednesday, and I had a long day ahead of me. Clutching my coffee cup, I slumped down into my seat for my 8am Prophetic Traditions class with Fr. Dale Launderville. We had already made our way through Joel, Amos, Micah and Ezekiel, and now we were knee-deep in the miry waters of Isaiah. The knotty book of soaring poetry and evocative prose was also filled with obscure history, politics and various strains of editors. Flipping to a clean page in my notebook, I braced myself for a morning of busy note-taking. But Fr. Dale began with an …

Spiritual hunger – growing together

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community, Uncategorized 1 Comment

Today, people young and old, are turning to Benedictine communities in their search for a balanced, meaningful way of living. Thanks to the wisdom of the Rule of Benedict, tested and lived out over time, Benedictine sisters embrace a way of life that provides for contemplation and service, meaning and growth in the company of others. Most Benedictine communities have flourishing oblate communities and retreatants who come for prayer, silence, spiritual mentoring and the presence and intimacy of community. In a blog about the new monasticism and the spiritual hunger of young adults, Jamie Manson notes that young adults are …

Sister Rosy and friends holding sign reading "The Resistance is HERE"

Three cities: One community of Benedictines – Women’s March 2017

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 6 Comments

Saturday, January 21, 2017, is a day that I will remember for a long time. The day after the presidential inauguration, I woke early to join a group of women that I had been meeting with regularly to head into Minneapolis. When we got to the Twin Cities, we planned to rendezvous with other friends from Saint Johns School of Theology carpooling for the Women’s March. No one knew what to expect, but in the car we ventured our guesses. Maybe 10,000 or 20,000 would show up for the march? Who knew? What I did know was that in Madison, …

Dear Mr. President - a letter from religious leaders

Leadership for these times

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

What kind of leadership is called for in these times? Several recent experiences come together to shape an answer to this question: The uneasy transition to new national leadership in our country A book shared by Maureen Van Dinter, a member of our Benedictine Women of Madison Board of Directors at a recent board meeting, titled The Servant Leader, by Blanchard and Hodges The recent publication of a Joint Letter to President Trump from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) The recent Statement by Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s …