Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's all about love...

"Cooking As Contemplation:
A Spirituality for the Kitchen"
WHEN: May 18th
WHERE: Dominican Retreat House,
Hope to see you there!
- Sister Vicki

Monday, March 22, 2010

The displaced saint...

Today, in the universal Church, it is Monday of the 5th Week of LENT. But, in the Benedictine ordo, it is the Feast of Saint Benedict! How can this be? Well, liturgy is a little like poker – the Lord Jesus beats a full house of saints. The Lord’s Day – Sunday – always trumps a memorial, however significant it may be. There are solemnities that trump the Sunday, but they are “Solemnities of the Lord.” Confused? That’s OK. We who love liturgy can be a bit overzealous in defending its principles and less that clear in our explanations. It would be easier to say that Sunday – the day of the resurrection – is the day from which all Christian holiness flows. Therefore, the saints, as heroic as they were, do not claim to be holier that Christ himself. So, Benedictines everywhere held their breath yesterday and waited for Morning Prayer to chant the glorious antiphon of this feast.

“Let the children of Benedict ~
be especially joyful ~
on the celebration of him ~

who now rejoices ~
with the saints in heaven.”

Today, we recall the passing of this friend of GOD into his eternal glory. We remember how Saint Benedict died in the arms of his disciples after receiving Holy Communion. "Standing, with his arms raised to heaven, he did most happily yield his angelic spirit."

I love this feast – even more than the summer feast, July 11th. Though the great honor of being the “Patriarch of Western Monasticism” honors the holiness and longevity of the Holy Rule itself, I much prefer the winter feast. I prefer to dwell on his "happy death" – a death I long for with all my heart. Benedict's last breath was the fruit of living that rule. That great surrender to the Mystery that owned him all his days, Benedict's "passing" is, for me, an icon of the glory that awaits all who struggle to live the gospel in community. His passing encourages all of us to strain toward the goal of heaven with joy – not fear.

When I first contemplated entering the monastery, I was a little freaked out by our cemetery. Seeing my final destination as a Benedictine seemed like a lot at the beginning. Now, I cherish the silent walk we take up the hill with our beloved dead. Now, I listen to the tolling of the bell and think about how close our last breath may be for any of us – how tenuous and beautiful human life really is. Now, I pray for a happy death, like our Holy Father, Saint Benedict. I have seen it among my sisters. It is the last gift we can give one another – a gift that offers those who love us a glimmer of the resurrection.

Blessings, love and Happy Feast!

- Sister Vicki