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 …

The creative tension of opposites

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

I recently read a quotation on creative tension that has me intrigued. It was entitled: The Tension of Opposites and the Power of Love: “… all our lives we are faced with the task of reconciling opposites which, in logical thought, cannot be reconciled… How can one reconcile the demands of freedom and discipline in education? Countless mothers and teachers, in fact, do it, but no one can write down a solution. They do it by bringing into the situation a force that belongs to a higher level where opposites are transcended—the power of love… Divergent problems, as it were, …

4 sisters gathered around deep dish pizza

Milestones

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 13 Comments

I was turning 40. There was no avoiding it, but for the weeks leading up to my birthday I tried not to indulge a creeping sense of dread. Although I could laugh over the prospect of having to check the “40 and over” survey box, I also felt anxious about crossing a threshold into middle age. There is something about milestones that force reflection, self-assessment, and in my case—mild depression. What had I accomplished with my life? I would be turning 40 at a monastery, with nothing to my name. All the accomplishments of a legal career built during my …

Great love and great suffering

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community, Spirituality Articles 8 Comments

The people of east Aleppo have been in my prayers and on my mind this fall as they undergo the siege of their city. They are especially on my heart because a couple of years ago, a husband and wife and their triplet sons worshipped with us at Sunday Assembly for some months after they had fled Aleppo. In one conversation I had with Nael, he said, “Pray for us, the Syrian people. We don’t understand why this fighting is going on. We want to live in peace.” The images in the news of the destruction of the city keep …

Sunrise over the prairie grasses at the monastery

Witnessing to light and hope

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

Homily and reflections before and after the 2016 national elections “The human race is facing a darkness that is pervasive and frightening…endless wars, climate change, rampant disease, corporate power, increasing poverty and natural disaster.” Edwina Gateley shared these thoughts in an essay for All Saints Day in 2014.* She went on to say that it seemed to her that “we are…in the midst of a global dark night.” Like Daniel in his day (see Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18), many people today see visions of disaster based on the coming election, climate change, the spread of ISIS, violence in our cities. It …

St Cloud Symphony Orchestra

Can beauty save the world?

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 5 Comments

Music filled the darkened performance hall. An attentive hush fell over the audience as the lush strains of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor drew us together in wonder, a fellowship of listeners. For a few brief and precious moments, all of these strangers in a room made up one marvelous whole, separate but together, rooted in place yet soaring at the same time. It was Saturday night, and Sister Tammy Shoemaker from Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN and I were treating ourselves to an evening out with the St Cloud Symphony Orchestra. As we took …