We are the Body of Christ

Lynne Smith, OSB 65th Anniversary, Living in Community, Sunday Assembly 6 Comments

One of the experiences that profoundly shaped my life as a sister at Holy Wisdom Monastery was the listening sessions we held in October of 2005 with members of Sunday Assembly to hear your input and concerns about the future of Sunday Assembly. The issue we were grappling with was how we would conduct Sunday worship as an ecumenical community. The sisters had discussed this matter for several years with our Ecumenical board. We laid several options on the table. Each sister could go to her own denominational church. We could go as a group to churches of various denominations …

Rooted in faith, transforming lives: people – land – spirit

Janet Neurauter 65th Anniversary, Care for the Earth, Hospitality, Living in Community, Prayer & Worship Leave a Comment

On March 11, 1953 sisters Monica Black, Annunciata Byrne and Martha Glaser of the Sisters of St. Benedict arrived by train from Sioux City, Iowa where their community had been located for 56 years. While the rest of the sisters stayed in Iowa, these three sisters moved north to Madison, Wisconsin, at the invitation of the Bishop, to build a monastery and open a girl’s high school. Much has changed in the 65 years since the sisters stepped off the train and into a new adventure which would transform lives and land. To celebrate the past, cherish the present and …

Serving others, being served

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

A couple weeks ago when we had snow on a Sunday morning, I got up early to plow the driveways at home. The snow blower on the tractor wasn’t working properly so it took longer than usual. I saw the problem, but couldn’t fix it myself especially in single digit temperatures in the dark of pre-dawn. I made a mental note to contact Paul, our groundskeeper, to see if he could fix the trouble on Monday so it would be ready for the next snow. Later that morning at the monastery, before Sunday Assembly, someone told me of a friend …

The gift of encuentro

Denise West, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

Last November, Sister Lynne Smith, Sister Paz Vital and I headed up to Milwaukee for a conference on the future of religious communities in the United States. The theme of the conference was Encuentro, and the focus was around the great diversity of cultures in this country and the changing face of religious communities as greater numbers of women and men born outside the US join American religious orders. The keynote speaker was Sister Teresa Maya, president-elect of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. A native of Mexico City, she is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate …

Contributing to kindness

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 5 Comments

Lately, I’ve resolved to see and contribute to small acts of kindness or simple friendliness. The news tells us every day about so much violence and cruelty that it is easy to conclude that meanness and terror is the general atmosphere in the world. I find it important to remind myself that there is much more going on in the world than violence. The human heart is inherently compassionate. The past few days, I’ve experienced a number of small acts of kindness that have reminded me of this. At a gas station, the person at the pump next to me …

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, OSB 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 …