Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Leavin' on a jet plane..."

This morning I’m flying to Minnesota to attend a planning meeting at St. John’s Abbey. I spent three years of my life living there in graduate housing – just a short walk from the Abbey Church. While I have referred to that time as the “exilic” period, it was also a time of grace. Thanks to the “Lilly Endowment” and an admissions committee who saw beyond my life on paper, I received a 100% tuition scholarship for three years of full-time study. That’s miracle number one!

I arrived at St. John’s in the fall of 1999 – a single lay woman committed to ministry in the Church. I left the School of Theology – Seminary in the spring of 2002 with an M. Div. and a monastic vocation - miracles two and three!

I have returned to Collegeville three times since graduation. Each time I am happy to see the bell banner of the abbey in the distance on I-94. I am happy to see faculty and staff to whom I owe a great debt. The sound of the monks singing usually leaves me with a lump in my throat. Something new was born in me there. Some little flame became a fire. And I will be forever grateful to GOD for making my way to Collegeville. It’s one of those places that changes you and gets into your heart. If you think you might want to study theology and commit your gifts to lay ministry, contact my friend, Brendon Duffy in Admissions.
(Next time, I'll tell you about the sisters of St. Benedict's Monastery - just four miles from here.)

Blessings and love to you all…

- Sister Vicki

PS – If I get the chance and the access, I’ll blog again before I return to Bristow. You’ll find me here for certain on Saturday, April 5th.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What fidelity looks like...

Yesterday was Sister Celine’s 97th birthday. She is our eldest in years and in rank. No one in this house has lived the monastic life longer than she. No one has her memories or her wisdom. If you know Sister Celine, you have a sense of who she is to us – a tree firmly planted by a flowing stream that gives its fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade (Psalm 1:3). If you don’t know Sister Celine, suffice it to say that she is revered as a master teacher, reverenced for her faithfulness to the Liturgy of the Hours and loved because of her generosity of spirit to those who seek her friendship and wisdom. In short, Sister Celine is a cornerstone of this community. Many sisters have leaned on her for strength and stability over the past 75 years of her monastic life.

At the end of the Prologue, Saint Benedict writes: “Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom (RB Prol. 50).” Yesterday we celebrated a monastic life lived to its fullness of grace. In Sister Celine’s eyes I see the possibility of my days in the monastery. This is what fidelity looks like.

Blessings and love to you all…

- Sister Vicki

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The 50 Days...

Liturgical theologian, Gordon Lathrop, refers to the great fifty days of the Easter season as “the space of rejoicing.” Even as monastic communities all over the world are recovering from the liturgical marathon of the Triduum, the Church is calling us to keep our joy at fever pitch. How do we maintain the Easter “high” when our bodies are exhausted from the night vigils, our musicians spent and our liturgists mentally fried? That’s where the gift of grace comes in. Even now, many of my sisters are returning home from family visits and days of rest apart. Even now, the ranks of our choir are swelling with bodies and voices. Our late morning breakfasts (because we’re on holiday schedule) are buzzing again with laughter and conversation. The great silence is over and the everyday joy of our common life is returned to us. I think we need only reclaim the great gift of who we are as monastic community and our gracious GOD will do the rest. The great writer/monk, Thomas Merton, wrote: “A tree gives glory to GOD by being a tree.” So it is with Benedictine women. If we reinvest ourselves totally in the monastic project, this Easter season with radiate some special joy into our world. Every alleluia will give GOD glory and the simple rhythm of our song and silence will fill the "space for rejoicing" with the risen love of Christ.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Community Room...

I played "Scrabble" last night. Along with the resurrection, I chalk this up to Easter miracles. I have never been very fond of board games. Just ask my fiercely competitive siblings how I would fold up like a chair under the pressure of competition. I didn't care very much about winning. I just wanted to have fun and be together. In my family of origin, "Hearts" could be lethal. My first "community room" was lots of fun when the TV was on, but when Milton-Bradley showed up, I wanted out!

Last night I decided that you haven't really lived until you play "Scrabble" with three generations of women. Last night the twenty-something and the forty-something lost to a dear sister in her 80's. I had the best time and continue to be amazed at how much fun games can be. For instance...when you play with a person in their 20's, "GQ" counts because of the magazine. I was given credit for ora, "prayer" in Latin. And Sister Irene got credit for "ho", which, for a woman of her generation, is something Santa says on the way down the chimney. Needless to say, we laughed a lot and really enjoyed a game that requires great thought and patience. I never stop learning things in the monastery. That's one of the reasons I love it so very much.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Monday, March 24, 2008

Christ is risen...Alleluia!