Book repair at the monastery

Diane Ray Library, Living in Community 6 Comments

Monasteries of every tradition have a long history of preserving knowledge and books. For the last few months, while living at Holy Wisdom Monastery as part of the Sojourner program, I have been a small part of that tradition. Nancy Sandleback, collections manager at the monastery, came up with the idea after learning that I had some experience with book repair. I worked at Grimm Book Bindery in Madison over the summer, and continue to work there on Mondays. Most of the books from the monastery library only needed a small fix—a bit of glue to secure a spine or …

Mexican celebrations during Advent

Paz Vital Living in Community Leave a Comment

Growing up in Mexico, every year around this time everyone looks forward to major festivities. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12. It’s a huge celebration throughout the whole country which commemorates the appearances of the Virgin Mary to an Aztec man in the 16th century. The story is that Mary appeared to Juan Diego and sent him on a mission to have a shrine built in her honor. He hardly felt capable of achieving this task since he was an indigenous man and spoke Nahuatl, not the Spanish of the Bishop. At first the …

Icons at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Diane Ray Children's Ministry, Living in Community 1 Comment

How many icons can you find at the monastery? In the weeks leading up to Sunday, November 12, 2017, I was finding this out as I helped the sisters’ community to prepare for a class on icons for the Youth Ministry of Sunday Assembly. This was not the only thing I learned during the preparation. Being Protestant, I knew only a little about the symbols in icons that are necessary to be able to ‘read’ the story presented or the identity of the person. Our focus for the class was to give the students a basic understanding of the common …

Beginning again 

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 4 Comments

On a recent Monday when I went out for a walk, I decided to take the paths in Wisdom Prairie. I feel as if I know intimately the paths around the lake, past the gardens, through the woods and out into the North Mendota Prairie unit. I said to myself, “I need to find my way in the new prairie.” I’ve walked the trails in Wisdom Prairie a few times and helped to seed sections of it, but I don’t know it as well as I know the rest of the grounds. Walking the land is often a time of …

What do surfing and Benedictine spirituality have in common?

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

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 Leave a Comment

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 …