St. Benedict and St. Scholastica Founders of Benedictine Monasticism

Holy Wisdom Monastery Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

Excerpts from St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, by Sr. Margaret Clarke, OSB: Benedict, whose name in Latin means “Blessed,” was born to a Christian family in the mountains to the northeast of Rome (A.D.480?). The Roman Empire was crumbling and the Goths and Vandals controlled Italy. As a youth, he was sent to Rome for schooling and there experienced a religious awakening which caused him to renounce corrupt secular society and to join a band of Christian ascetics. He later became a hermit, living in the hill region of Subiaco. His fame as a holy person grew until he was …

Interchurch Families: Christian Unity Made Visible in Our Households

Holy Wisdom Monastery Benedictine Bridge, Retreats Leave a Comment

By Fr. George Kilcourse From Friday, July 9, through Sunday, July 11, the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF) will convene for its biennial national conference at Holy Wisdom Monastery near Madison, Wisconsin. AAIF, now in its third decade, undertakes ecumenical advocacy and support roles on behalf of the growing number of interchurch marriages and families around the United States. In some areas, marriages between Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox Christians are not only no longer rare, they are proving to be the new majority. Interchurch families and their pastoral advisers define an interchurch marriage as one in which: (1) two baptized …

Benedictine Life: A Journey of the Heart

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

In September of 1996, I read two ads and an article about the new ecumenical Benedictine women’s community, Benedictine Women of Madison, Wisconsin. By the time I saw the third ad welcoming women of any Christian denomination to join, I thought, “That means me. I have to check this out.” That’s how my journey in Benedictine life began. After months of visits and discernment with the sisters, I came to the monastery in June of 1998 and made first profession two years later. Benedict begins his Rule “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the …

The Value of Volunteers at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Benedictine Bridge, Volunteers Leave a Comment

The contribution of the many volunteers at Holy Wisdom Monastery on a daily basis helps make the Monastery function. There is so much life that goes beyond the work of the monastic community and co-workers. Volunteering at Holy Wisdom Monastery fits in well with the core Benedictine values that the sisters profess to live, especially building community. On a typical day this spring, you will find volunteers cleaning the new bamboo floors, conducting a prairie burn to help restore it to pre-settlement conditions and planting the vegetable garden. The volunteers are a vital part of everyday life at the monastery. In 2001, the Conference …

Eco-Spirituality: Healing Earth, Healing Souls

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“A spirit of reverence for all creation permeates the Rule, together with a sense of oneness with the land, the days and the seasons. Such conscious respect for all created goods makes it impossible to pollute the land, water or air; to waste resources or to forget about the children who will one day inhabit the earth.” – from Of All Good Gifts, a Statement from the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses, June 1980 People relate to the environment in various ways. In years past, humans viewed the environment as the ultimate source of life, a necessary factor in their …

Care for the Earth: A Longstanding Monastery Tradition

Neal Smith Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, Volunteers Leave a Comment

Care of the earth is nothing new at Holy Wisdom Monastery. As the story goes, three sisters went into the countryside outside of Madison in the early 1950s looking for a site suitable for a new Benedictine monastery. They had come from Sioux City, Iowa at the invitation of the first Bishop of the Madison diocese. What they found was a hilltop in the country with an unparalleled vista of the Madison skyline. After saying a few prayers and burying medals of St. Benedict, they set out to acquire the land. Once they tracked down the current owner, they negotiated for the 42.5 acres …

Leadership in a Benedictine Community

Mary David Walgenbach, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict Leave a Comment

Respectful listening is the first and foremost quality for leadership according to St. Benedict. He begins his Rule with “Listen.” For anyone seeking to grow in relationship to God, self and others, attentive listening is key for a whole and holy life. Two premises support the understanding of leadership in the Rule of Benedict (RB). The first is that Christ is the ultimate authority and second that the abbot represents Christ in a special way for the community. The leader, either prioress or abbot, is chosen by the community and receives what Benedictines believe to be the grace of office. …

Benedictine Sisters Share Leadership at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Lynne Smith, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In Sister Mary David’s preceding essay, she guides us in St. Benedict’s understanding of leadership. “Consultation, respectful listening and speaking humbly,” are values the sisters strive to practice in our ministry at Holy Wisdom Monastery. On Saturday evenings one of the sisters leads our communal practice of lectio divina: listening to the scripture together and sharing their meaning for our lives. We often have guests with us, so our leadership is important in helping them participate fully. On Sundays, we share leadership in worship with members of our Sunday Assembly. We serve as communion ministers, lectors, presider or homilists. Prayer is …

“As soon as you drive up that drive, the rest of the world disappears”

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Benedictine Bridge, Retreats Leave a Comment

Rev. Jenny Gleichauf, ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA and pastor at Winnetka Congregational Church in Winnetka, Illinois, first discovered Holy Wisdom Monastery when she was a seminary student at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Our own Lynne Smith, OSB, attended McCormick, and the community has fostered a relationship with the seminary for years. Jenny came here for a silent retreat, and always looks forward to her return visits. “As soon as you drive up that drive, the rest of the world disappears,” she says about the turn off County Highway M and onto the 130 acres of prairie land at the Monastery. “The …

Renew Yourself on Retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery?

Jerrianne Bland Benedictine Bridge, Retreats Leave a Comment

Consider taking a day or two or even three to experience the quiet, prayerful, spacious ambiance of a retreat in the Retreat and Guest House of Holy Wisdom Monastery. The whirling, swirling, flying snow of these winter days reminds me of the whirling, swirling, busy lives so many of us try to live. A terrific snowstorm in early December forced me to stay home, without a plan. What a gift that day turned out to be! Renewal and rejuvenation from solitude, silence and the beauty of creation brought peace and healing in the days that followed. We can’t count on …