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. …

The Religious Challenges of Today — the Benedictine Answer

Anne Edwardson Benedictine Bridge, Oblates Leave a Comment

250 Oblates from 6 continents and 32 countries gathered in Rome, Italy at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI for the Second Oblate World Congress. Abbot Primate Nokter Wolf, the symbol of unity among Benedictine communities worldwide, in addressing the assembly suggested that these are special, difficult times of crisis; both in economies and in security and it is hoped that Benedictine Oblates may help respond to these challenges. What was the Benedictine Oblate answer? Contemplation and dialogue…. The Second Oblate World Congress was introduced with a Russian icon, Christ the Light of the World and the comment, “Deep within the human heart is a desire …

Emerging Gifts and Nesting Dolls

Claudia Porter Benedictine Bridge, Oblates Leave a Comment

“Gift”–for me the word continues to bring visions of gaily wrapped packages in colorful paper with great big bows. “Emerging gifts,” on the other hand, present an image of those boldly painted European folk-art nesting dolls. These, unlike wrapped gifts, are not torn into with excitement and anticipation; rather they are slowly and carefully unpacked and savored. There is a certain fascination, even mystery, as each doll is discovered hidden inside another. In a very similar way, Oblate candidates unpack the emerging gifts of Benedictine spirituality during their year of formation. We meet regularly, often with the community of already committed Benedictine Oblates at Holy Wisdom …

Practicing Gratitude

Joanne Kollasch, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Prayer & Worship Leave a Comment

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? This question often starts a conversation about how we will spend a much-loved American holiday. Friends and family members begin naming their favorite traditions. This year maybe you’d like to add a new practice. It may even become a new tradition. Name your favorite “giving thanks” words and images; the more the better (even if you name shopping and turkey). On my list is family gathering, a large round oak dining table, sharing food, good friends, community leisure, prayer, and a generous faithful God. Our community prayer closes at the monastery when the leader gathers the participants’ prayer into a …

"Learn everyday of your life"

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

This week my attention has been focused on how on-going growth and integration is basic to the monastic life. Benedictine life asks that we “learn everyday of our lives” and that learning is not just about intellectual knowledge. In her book, Seeking Life, Esther de Waal notes that Benedict is always addressing the whole self – body, mind and spirit. Benedict tells us in the Prologue that we must “prepare our hearts and bodies.” So as we seek to open ourselves more deeply to God during Lent, we might attend to each aspect of our person as de Waal suggests. …

What are you reading for Lent?

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In the Rule, Benedict writes: “during this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through.” It continues to be our practice to choose a book to read during Lent. Sister Joanne and I share reflections on our Lenten reading below. Sister Joanne: Mary Gordon, the author, comes to Holy Wisdom Monastery when she travels to Madison.  On a recent visit she presented the sisters with an autographed copy of her latest book, Reading Jesus.  It was my choice for Lent; I gained new insights into …

Celebrating the Feast of Scholastica

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life, Prayer & Worship, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

Today we celebrate the Feast of Scholastica, said to have lived from 480 to 543, the twin sister of Benedict. She is a patron of Benedictines throughout the world. Scholastica led a form of consecrated life with a group of Christian women, following the spirit of the Rule of Benedict. We know of her life only from legend and from a brief story in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. Gregory tells us that she traveled each year to meet her brother at a small house midway between their residences. On one occasion, after a day filled with deep and …

Sister Joanne and retreatant looking together at prayer books used for daily prayer

Building community through shared Benedictine values

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

Sister Joanne will be quick to tell you that Benedictine spirituality does not exist in the abstract. It only comes alive as people embody it. It is learned and passed on person to person through relationships. Having lived this life for over sixty years, Joanne embodies the Benedictine values of the monastery in her unique way. Joanne is passionate about passing on the Benedictine way of life to everyone with whom she comes into contact. You have probably experienced the values of hospitality, respect, simplicity and beauty through Joanne. She embodies Benedictine values in the way she greets guests, in …

Pre-dawn sky and sliver moon shining over treetops

The power of commitment

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

Inwardly cursing, I bundled up against the cold and headed out into the early winter morning. The sky was dark, and a frigid wind kicked up to greet me as I trudged through the snow past Lake Sagatagan toward campus. I had made a pact with a friend to go to the gym here on campus three times a week, and our schedules required early mornings or late evenings.  Going to morning prayer at the Abbey at 7:00 am and then heading for the gym seemed like a good idea in the bright light of day.  But it was a …

Sister Joanne speaking to an oblate gathering

A call to justice: Benedictine perspectives on listening, right relationships and public witness

Joanne Kollasch, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Building Community, Living in Community, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

The Oblate retreat, February 19-21, 2016, brought together 66 Oblates of Holy Wisdom, women and men from near and far, to learn from the sisters about the ways justice is expressed in Benedictine life through listening, right relationships and public witness. The following reflections come from a presentation given by Joanne Kollasch, OSB, on February 19, 2016 (pictured above). Today if you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart. —Prologue, Rule of Benedict There are many ways to hear God’s voice if we are silent and listening, if we are able to “welcome one another with the courtesy of love.” …