Friday, April 18, 2008

"Do not let your hearts be troubled."

These are Jesus’ first words to us in today’s gospel. So many things trouble our hearts… BIG things like a loved one with cancer, a death in the family, the loss of a job or a relationship hanging by the threads of misunderstanding. These things should trouble us. We are only human. (What a relief!) I think what the Lord is offering us is His peace. Even in the midst of our worries – big and small – the promise of presence stands firm.

In the book of Exodus, (stay with me now, I really do have a point) Moses encounters GOD in the burning bush. When Moses asks GOD’s name, GOD says, “I AM.” Our Jewish brothers and sisters so revere the name of GOD, that they will not speak these four letters aloud. Biblical theologians have translated GOD’s name in several ways – all correct. “I am who am”, is perhaps the most common. My favorite translation of “I AM” is this: “I am the one who will be with you.” Throughout John’s gospel, which we are reading now in the Easter season, Jesus uses that name as his own. When the people hear him say, “I AM,” they are scandalized by his use of the sacred name of GOD. He was trying to tell us something – to help us understand – that the GOD of Abraham and Sarah is the same GOD who stood before them in flesh and bone. So much mystery…too much for our grey matter to comprehend. But, if GOD so loved the world…sent us the only begotten Son…and allowed Him to share every human experience of sorrow and joy, then, in our own sorrow and joy, GOD is truly with us. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in GOD; now, have faith in me.” Today, I will turn all my worries – big and small – over to the One who will be with me. And may each of us be that presence of peace for one another.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thank you for coming, Holy Father.

“Love reaches out.” That’s what Bishop Emeritus, Walter F. Sullivan, said to some 5th graders yesterday, as part of his talk on the visit of Pope Benedict the XVI. These three words have touched me deeply. They now frame my experience of this historic pilgrimage. As newspapers, network and cable stations vie for optimal coverage, enlisting the commentary of various “experts” on the Catholic Church in America, I will watch and listen with the rest of the world. But Bishop Sullivan’s words will echo beyond the observations of papal pundits and the questions of reporters who wish to open wounds that have only just begun to heal.

I had the opportunity to pray Evening Prayer with Pope Benedict at St. Paul Outside the Walls, in Rome. And, with several thousand others, receive his blessing from the window of his private office at the Vatican. I even got a pretty good photo of the Holy Father though he seemed miles away from where we were huddled together in St. Peter's Square. This “sighting” is different because he came to us. We are being visited and that simply fact is of great importance. Presence itself is a gift. I will listen with the ear of my heart to his words because he is the shepherd GOD anointed. Pope Benedict’s message – “Christ, our hope” – can not be disputed. Christ simply is our hope. Matters of discipline, practice or morals may elicit various opinions among the nation’s Catholic faithful. The People of GOD are always a bit ahead of the institution – always calling the Church to become its best self. That’s nothing new in a history of two thousand years. What we must never forget is that GOD has a plan for our blessing and somehow, Pope Benedict XVI has an integral part to play in its completion. That alone should inspire great reverence. Somehow, the Spirit chose him from among many – the very same Spirit who chose Paul and Barnabas in today’s gospel. That is why I pray GOD’s blessing on the Holy Father. GOD, for whom nothing is impossible, is not finished with this divine/human enterprise we call “church.” And because of the Spirit of the risen Christ, it will not fail.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We know His voice...

Sometimes, I feel sorry for all those 1st century folk who didn’t get it – who couldn’t recognize JESUS when he lived and walked among them, or accept the truth of his resurrection proclaimed by Peter, Paul, Stephen and Barnabas. I am grateful to have been born one thousand, nine hundred, thirty-three years later. I am grateful to have been born into a family of believers, carried to the waters of baptism and raised a Christian. Perhaps, when we read the gospels in this season of joy, we might look with love on those who missed the boat – even the Pharisees and Sadducees. What a wonder death must be for all those who cannot believe in this life - for whatever reason. What must they feel when they behold the face of Love?

I have failed to be a good Christian - hollow prayers, selfish sins and lame attempts at discipline. These failures teach me…mercy, forgiveness and compassion. We’re so lucky, you and I. Our faith is sure – we cannot imagine the world without its Savior. Let us thank GOD for the privilege of being born in the age of the Spirit. And let us ask for deeper faith – the faith that will withstand the test that comes in every lifetime – the faith that moves mountains and conquers the world.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Monastic Monday"...

Monastic Monday” is the title of the curriculum I designed for our high school. It’s a series of classes on Benedictine spirituality and tradition that follow our students through their four years at Saint Gertrude High School. One Monday a month I take a grade for the day (kindness of the Theology Department.) Today, I have the entire sophomore class divided into five sections. Our topic is “Lectio Divina” – the Benedictine practice of praying the Scriptures.
I see each grade twice a year. The second “class” for our seniors is a fieldtrip to visit the monastery.

I’ve been trying to remember how long we’ve been doing this as part of vocation ministry – three, maybe four years? Our hope is two-fold: 1) As graduates of a Benedictine school, they should be able to articulate something of our life form out in the world and take the values of Saint Benedict with them wherever they go and whatever they do. 2) Of the hundreds of students that have passed before me, perhaps one or two might consider a monastic vocation ten years down the road. Maybe, some aspect of our life will touch the heart and remain – a small seed planted in the winter of youth that might bloom in the springtime of adulthood.

The sophomore’s are a WONDERFUL class! I am enjoying every minute of this day. I asked for a volunteer in the first class to take pictures for the blog. I’ve never seen myself teach before. I get a little excited about things. J I never learned how to teach sitting down. It’s almost a full-body experience for me. Their energy and interest is a gift to me. I am grateful to the President and Principal of SGHS for supporting “Monastic Monday.” Visit our high school at:

Blessings and love to you all...

-Sister Vicki