Looking Back: ‘Ecumenical Monastic Life Offers Journey into a New Culture’ (2003) by Erica Thiessen

Brooke Moriarty Benedictine Bridge, Community of Benedict, Interfaith Relations, Living in Community, Looking Back, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict 1 Comment

In 2003, Erica Thiessen was a novice of Benedictine Women of Madison. In Issue 12 of Benedictine Bridge from Ordinary Time 2003, she wrote this article reflecting on the value of Benedictine life in relation to her own experiences as a Mennonite. I have been journeying into different lands from almost before I was born. My parents were both Russian Mennonite immigrants to Canada. As a family, we traveled to Ghana and Trinidad where my father taught school. In ways, I became a pilgrim, and for much of my adult life, I have lived and worked around the world. Always …

Finding God in Grief

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 16 Comments

Walking outside has long been a regular part of my life. Since coming to the monastery, walking the grounds has become an important part of my prayer life. Moving my body also helps me process my feelings. A couple of weeks ago I went out for a walk with a sense of grief that I hadn’t been able to access fully. Walking slowly helps me notice what’s around me and what thoughts are arising. I walked through the pine woods, came out into the oaks and slowed down to a stop. I stood in place for a few minutes, letting …

Lent – 2020

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Prayer & Worship, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Every year Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and the values by which we live. Traditional practices such as prayer, fasting and alms-giving draw us first inward in an examination of our living out of Gospel values and then send us out in service to our neighbors.  This year the COVID-19 virus provides an additional challenge and opportunity for reflection and service. Saint Benedict in his Rule tells us to daily remind ourselves that we are going to die (RB 4:47). Rather than a morbid focus on death, this is a call to humility, to remember …

Listening

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

I offered the following as formation in Benedictine spirituality at our Benedictine Women of Madison Board retreat on January 23, 2020. It is based primarily on Joan Chittister’s chapter on listening in Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. Benedict, following Scripture, puts great emphasis on listening as the way to find God. Benedict begins his rule with this verse in the Prologue: “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.” What is especially significant to note …

What’s the point?

Denise West, OSB Living in Community 1 Comment

Recently I popped in to Sister Barb’s office for a quick chat and maybe a bite of chocolate. As I scanned her bookshelf, this title jumped out at me: What is the Point of Being a Christian? A rather bold question, I thought, and asked to borrow the book. As I’ve gleaned so far, the answer, according to Dominican Friar Timothy Radcliffe, is Life and Freedom. He says the Christian should have a certain air of mysterious freedom that attracts people. The Christian who is truly alive lives and speaks with authenticity, hope and courage. These words challenged me. As often …

Oblates and sisters share Benedictine spirituality

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

On Sunday, November 24, 2019, Sisters Paz, Denise and I drove to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Milwaukee. We had been invited to make a presentation on the Rule of Benedict and Benedictine spirituality at their GIFT (Generations in Faith Together) program. This is an inter-generational faith formation program held 10 times a year for singles, families, adults and children of all ages who gather after the Eucharist for social time, a meal and a program. We arrived in time for mass and were delighted to see that the congregation was diverse in terms of ethnicity and age. …

Stability

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

The sisters spoke on a panel at the November oblate retreat on the topic of stability and care for the earth. We each shared what stability means for us at this point in our monastic lives and what is compelling to us about caring for the land. Stability has several layers of meaning. The most obvious definition of stability is staying in the same place with the same people. That’s how we begin practicing stability in community.  For Benedict, community life is the ascetic practice. We don’t need to wear hair shirts and eat sparingly to discipline our bodies and …

Spirituality on the prairie

Lynne Smith, OSB Care for the Earth, Living in Community Leave a Comment

“When we enter the landscape to learn something, we are obligated, I think, to pay attention rather than constantly to pose questions. To approach the land as we would a person, by opening an intelligent conversation. And to stay in one place, to make of that one, long observation a fully dilated experience. We will always be rewarded if we give the land credit for more than we imagine, and if we imagine it as being more complex even than language. In these ways we begin, I think, to find a home, to sense how to fit a place.” – …

What is the Day of the Dead?

Paz Vital, OSB Living in Community, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

The celebration of the dead is a tradition deeply rooted in Mexican life. More than five hundred years ago, before the conquest, the festival of the dead lasted more than a month and was celebrated during the harvest season. The Catholic authorities, allied with the conquerors, moved this celebration to early November to coincide with All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. Thus the conquerors gained more working hours to exploit the people. The consequence of taking these actions was that the official church merged indigenous traditions with the Christian feast days and the …

Meeting new members of the prairie community

Lynne Smith, OSB Care for the Earth, Friends of Wisdom Prairie, Living in Community Leave a Comment

On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk in Wisdom Prairie. Friend of Wisdom Prairie member Ron Endres was harvesting prairie seeds along the path, so I stopped to find out what he was picking. He was gathering seed from anise hyssop and placed a seed head in my hand with the instructions to rub my hands together and then smell them. Sure enough, it smelled like anise or licorice. Anise hyssop isn’t very plentiful and Ron was glad to have come across a small patch of it. It is one of only a few prairie plants …