Oblates gathering in community

What is community?

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community Leave a Comment

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 …

Dear Mr. President - a letter from religious leaders

Leadership for these times

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community Leave a Comment

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 Leave a Comment

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 …

Perspective from monastery hilltop overlooking prairie, Lake Mendota and Madison in the distance.

Gaining perspective in contentious times

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 6 Comments

I was talking with a leader of a class being held at the monastery last week. While he was on break, he spoke about the reasons he likes coming to the monastery. He said coming to the monastery helps him gain perspective on his work. The view from the top of the hill of the capital and downtown Madison represents this change of perspective. He teaches at the university and finds it helpful to come across the lake periodically to step back and look at his life and work from another viewpoint. The sisters have been reading Joan Chittister’s commentary …

Rosy Kandathil shares reflections on the Rule of Benedict

Celibate intimacy – a real question

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Rule of Benedict, Spirituality Articles 2 Comments

“How do you experience intimacy as a celibate?” She looked up at me quizzically from her notebook. The young woman’s question caught me by surprise. I had just finished an interview with Pastor Pete Scazzero at New Life Fellowship church in New York City, where I’d been a member for nine years before coming to Holy Wisdom Monastery. My life at the monastery remained a mystery to many of the people I served at the church, people I still cared deeply about. I hoped that my answers might help bridge the gap for this busy urban church where monastic life might …

Front door and windows of Holy Wisdom Monastery seen through yellow spring flowers blooming in the surrounding prairie

Unraveling and coming home

Holy Wisdom Monastery Benedictine Bridge, Oblates Leave a Comment

by Brad S. Lutz, oblate class of 2000 In the Wizard of Oz Dorothy performs a simple magic spell: she clicks the heels of her magic slippers and repeats, “There’s no place like home….” Walking through the doors of Holy Wisdom Monastery does not require magic but it is an enchanting homecoming. The familiar sounds of bells and psalms, the warm embrace of the monastery’s communities gladden my heart—it’s like I’ve never been away and nothing has changed. Truth is, however, I live a long way from this amazing place and it is increasingly expensive to travel. Truth is, connections …

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.” …

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 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 …