Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ora, Labora and more Ora!

It's over - three days of great joy and grace!  Soon, you will all meet our postulant, Julia Elena Abdala.  She is a wonderful addition to our community and is looking forward to classes and instruction.  Our Sister Kathleen Persson made her Perpetual Monastic Profession - the promise of life-long fidelity to our monastic way of life.  Sister Karen Lynn Trespacz renewed her monastic profession for one more year, and Sister Lilliane Normand began the transfer process - a three-year shift of her stability to this monastery - at the same liturgy.  Then, Sisters Joann, Shirley and Andrea made their First Monastic Profession on Sunday evening.  Five ceremonies in one holiday weekend!  For the liturgist it was like Easter all over again!  I guess "alleluia" is the right response to the bounty of new life in our midst.  Praise GOD from whom all blessings flow and thank you to ALL who pray for vocations to religious life.

Sister Lilliane receives our Vision Statement.

Sister Karen Lynn signs her profession formula.

Sister Kathleen sings the suscipe - an ancient prayer of self-surrender.
Julia Abdala, postulant

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting ready...

Preparing for our BIG weekend: one new postulant, three First professions, one renewal and one Perpetual Monastic Profession! Sister Kathy will receive Sister Agnes's ring. "Saints of God in glory, be with us..."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Washing feet at the beach...

“Week 52” is over – the one precious week of vacation I am given each year at Nags Head.  In the company of two other sisters, I overslept, read books, prayed when I felt like it and ate WAY too much.  I am always grateful for these days of holy leisure – for the return to some natural clock inside me.  I am rested and renewed and very grateful to my beach companions for the gift of their presence.  One of the thoughts that came in the car on the way home – other than, “I wish I had TWO weeks at the beach!” – has stayed with me in the transition to “real life”.  We have this tradition at the beach.  When the last day of your vacation comes, you clean the house from top to bottom – scrub the bathrooms, vacuum, wash sheets and remake the beds for the sisters coming in that day.  Then, you prepare a meal for them so that when they arrive around noon; both groups can eat to together.  When the new group arrives we help with their bags, boxes and coolers.  After lunch we clean up the mess and leave them to their “week 52” in a fresh, clean house.  It’s hard work, that last day.  By the time we got our things into the car and waved goodbye, I was ready to collapse.  It was then that the thought came.  That Sunday ritual on the last day of vacation is our annual “foot washing”.  It is our opportunity to serve our sisters in the humblest of ways.  Scrubbing toilets and changing sheets – these simple tasks are the most loving.  Mothers understand this.  To prepare a fresh bed for a loved one is sacramental.  So is cooking, serving and cleaning up.  We wash PLENTY of dishes at the monastery, but in this setting it is so much more intimate.  Our time of leisure is ending and instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we choose loving action for those whose joy is yet to come.  We bend and wash and serve.  It is very much like the service Jesus asks of us in the Holy Thursday liturgy.  The Lord of sun and moon bends to wash the tired, dusty feel of fishermen.  I watched our prioress make beds, empty the dishwasher and scrub a bathroom.  This is real love – the love that regards the good of the other as sacred duty.  Our “foot washing” at the beach remains one of the sweetest examples of the goodness of this life.  It will be 51 weeks until we go to the Outer Banks [but who’s counting!]  The example of what was done for us and what we did for others has become an icon of humble love.  It’s taken me 10 trips to the beach to see it, but now the basin and towel will never be the same.

Blessings and love to you all…
-          Sister Vicki

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Doubting Thomas...

     I love Thomas.  His human need to see and touch the Lord resonates with something really true about the human condition.  We believe what we can see, what we can touch.  For this reason UFO’s remain the subject of speculation or silly jokes.  Attorneys search desperately for “proof”.  Science advances only when a hypothesis is successfully tested.  Human love, of all things, requires some sign – some concrete expression to establish its existence.  For this reason, Thomas is the biblical representative of the “show-me” school of love.  
     We believe that we are loved when someone acts like they love us. Husbands take out the garbage and bring home flowers on Valentine’s Day.  Wives put power tools under the Christmas tree and often relinquish control of the TV remote.  In the monastery, we have a hundred little ways to show love for one another.  Someone leaves a note of encouragement in our mailbox, or saves us a piece of our favorite dessert.  We lend a hand when someone seems overwhelmed by their work.  We pray for each other in illness or for success in public ministry.  Love is evidenced in a smile, an embrace or a listening heart.  It is made concrete when we make our presence at prayer a priority.  It is given shape and texture in the dish room and in the kitchen.  Love literally takes on flesh in community in a myriad of particular and very ordinary ways. 
     The real challenge comes when we feel unloved. Community can disappoint us.  We can feel unnoticed or forgotten.  The poison of envy or resentment can clog the arteries of the community heart.  Someone hurts us - consciously or unconsciously - and we are shocked by our vulnerability.  We can lose our bearings in community without the concrete assurance of love.  I suspect that is how Thomas felt when the others experienced the risen Lord.  It must have been a very long week between those two appearances.  “Why them, Lord?”  “Why didn’t you wait for me, Lord?”  “Don’t you love me, Lord?” Perhaps, he prayed harder than he ever had before.  Maybe those very prayers demonstrated more faith than that of the eleven who received the gift of his presence.  Poor Thomas needed to see the Lord to believe in a love stronger than death.   He needed to touch that broken body to be certain that he did not hope in vain.  I suspect Jesus came to him for that very reason.
     When we feel unloved by God or by the community or, more importantly, lose the healthy self-love that grounds us, it is then that the God of Jesus Christ shows us how deeply we are loved.  That love may comes in a Word during lectio, in a dream, in an unexpected kindness from someone we thought gave up on us, in an apology that was long overdue, in a new friend who sees something beautiful in us.  Jesus came back for Thomas and he will always come back for us.  May we open ourselves to be his love for one another this day and unto eternal life.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"His name is John."

In the Gospel today, Elizabeth speaks for Zechariah when she chooses a name that has no connection to the family line.  The family responds with incredulity.  “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”  They are mystified by this break in tradition – by the audacity of something new.  It is the old man’s confirmation of this new name which breaks the silence of his unbelief.  “John is his name.”

There is a “John” in every family, I think – a child who is a bit different, who somehow, in their very being, suggests some mischief on God’s part.  Those precious children have a role to play in God’s plan for the family – some new word to speak, some truth to proclaim.  Often, this child will draw the ire of some and the direct rebuke of others.  Perhaps, Zechariah and Elizabeth had a moment of wishing that their child could be just like other children.  Perhaps, they felt vulnerable or even embarrassed by the attention around his birth.  Surely, the joy of his arrival would have done much to ease the complex web of feelings that surround a “special” child.  We know nothing more of John’s childhood except that he grew and became “strong in spirit”.   Scholars conjecture that he may have been dedicated early to God’s service and nurtured by the Essenes – the pre-monastic sect of first century Judaism.  We hear nothing of him again until Jordan’s bank.  A radical life lived in the wilderness and attuned to God’s Word – John’s was a new path of simplicity and authenticity.  So serious in his call to repentance, we forget that John leapt for joy in his mother’s womb in the presence of the Word made flesh.  So special was this child that of him Jesus said, “There is none borne of woman greater than John.” 

To all who have a special child in your midst, take heart in the story of the Baptist.  Though no child will be called to do exactly what he did, GOD still uses us to further the coming of the Kingdom.  Each one of us has some part to play – some assent of our will to add to reign of God.  The special child in your family may have more on their “to do” list than you can imagine.  Cherish the one who sticks out and seems so different from all the rest.  God is always doing something and that something begins from our mother’s womb.  We are all “fearfully, wonderfully made.”  Some, like John, have very special work to do.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jubilee joy...

Sister Patricia Anne Driscoll, OSB, marked fifty years of monastic profession this past Saturday.  Surrounded by her community, her family and friends, Sister Patricia Anne renewed her promises before GOD, the saints and her prioress.  Festive song, flowers and ribbons spoke to one and all of the great joy of jubilee.  Though the celebration seems centered on one sister, it is actually a communal acknowledgement of GOD's goodness and providential care.  GOD continues to call faithful women to a life of prayer and work in the tradition of Saint Benedict.  That constant call enables us to be a community with a history of 144 years and future that is graced.  Please join us in thanking GOD for the gift of Sister Patricia Anne and for the faithful love that carries this community forward in hope.

Blessings and love to you all...
 Sister Vicki
Sister Cecilia and Sister Roberta reverence the altar.

Sister Miriam of Holy Name Monastery proclaims the Word.

Sister Cecilia reflects on a life of prayer and work.

Sister Patricia Anne reads her original monastic profession.

The Suscipe is sung three times.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I think the Holy Spirit is the least understood person of the Trinity. God the Creator, Jesus the Christ - we can imagine by virtue of the relationship between them something of their “persons”. The Spirit seems so much more nebulous, intangible. I read a book on the Spirit once called, “The Left Hand of God.” I loved the title – so clever. If Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, well, then…

To dwell on the Spirit is really to dwell on a very great mystery. Jesus had to leave the world physically to be more powerfully, intimately with us in the Spirit. The Ascension left the apostles in confused grief but Pentecost brought a new mode of relationship – an even deeper experience of his risen love.

Where you are not we have naught. This line from the Pentecost sequence has lodged somewhere in my heart. In it there is a truth about the Holy Spirit. Freed from the confines of human flesh, the Spirit of Jesus can be everywhere – reach every human heart. The Spirit of Jesus permeates all life and dwells particularly in the souls of the baptized. The Spirit is the source of our desire to pray and the giver of peace.  Perhaps we have trouble understanding the Holy Spirit because without the Spirit’s presence we would not even wonder or question or seek. So deep in us is the Spirit’s home – so holy our flesh as her temple. If we could see the Holy Spirit, it would be like seeing the air we breathe or counting each heartbeat.

 Jesus said, “I will be with you always until the end of time.” The Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise. The Spirit carries the Church in its brokenness – assures Christ's mission of compassionate love will succeed in spite of our sins and blunders. The Spirit has no voice but ours. As the Church moves forward toward some day of great wholeness and wonder – the reign of God – may we each reverence the voice of the Spirit in the events of our lifetime, in the moments of great clarity within each of us and, most especially, in the faithful who bear the wounds of the Lord in this day and age. There is a breeze blowing…a wind gathering strength in the Church. It is the breath of God hovering over our chaos – making something beautiful and good. For nothing, nothing is impossible for God.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's our birthday...

Today, the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia celebrate 144 years in the Commonwealth. On May 1, 1868, two sisters left St. Marys, PA for Richmond and, as they say, the rest is our history. Our Morning Prayer was especially beautiful. The hymn texts highlighted the power of being a community. “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live. A place where saints and children tell, how hearts learn to forgive.” This house is built on love. It stands today because we are learning to forgive as we have been forgiven. Powerful stuff, when you think about it.

Then, after the listening to the Word, we shared stories of our beloved dead – sisters who somehow encouraged us to follow Christ in monastic life. I listened. It’s not that I don’t have stories or a short-list of ammas without who I would not be in the monastery. I just needed to listen today – to drink in the love my sisters have for this life. Sometimes I come to prayer thirsty for the faith of others – in need of some grace that is eluding me – some way of seeing things that keeps me on the path. I heard such a story this morning. It was Sister Trinidad. She spoke with such love about several sisters I never knew – how they nurtured her vocation. One, she said, would bring her “sisters’ unfinished work” and she would try to learn the stitches and finish the piece. [First, I do not sew. I can do a button in a pinch, but that’s it. It took me a few seconds to get that we were talking about material – an altar cloth, a vestment, etc.] But once I got it I was stunned by the truth of what she was saying – how this sweet memory conveyed something of the essence of our monastic life. It is ours to finish what our sisters have left undone. From generation to generation, from Bavaria to Elk County, PA, from the great city of Richmond to Bristow – we take up where they left off. And one day when I die surrounded by my sisters, I know that the mission will continue – that good women will continue to seek God in this community through prayer and ministry. I don’t have to do it all. I don’t even have to understand how my part fits. I just have to trust that my life – my love – is needed here and God will do the rest.

Blessings and love to you all…

- Sister Vicki

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Sunday...

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Easter peace and risen love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Saturday, April 7, 2012

All in one great day...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

For Judas...

I have a velvet pouch
empty now by grace –
by the miracle of our “Easter duty.”
Often, it has been quite heavy
with the silvery weight of my sins.

Poor Judas,
without hope -
lost in the isolation of shame.
How many more remain there?

How many, too,
fail to count their coins,
think themselves blameless -
in no way complicit
in the sin of the world?

I pray for them all this day
as we read of the traitor’s greed.
I, too, have accepted the payment.
I, too, have kissed his cheek and walked away.

But this same Jesus,
whom I have betrayed,
has reconciled me to the Father.
No tree awaits my despair,
no field of blood my lifeless body.

Have mercy, O God,
on all who have abandoned you to suffering –
in the poor,
the homeless,
the victims of violence,
or slavery.

Have mercy on those -
who have taken pleasure in your failures,
rejoiced in your pain,
lost themselves in envy and resentment.

Give them all the courage
to empty their purse
before your great mercy
and, in the letting go of filthy coins,
know the power and peace of Christ.

Vicki Ix, OSB
April 4, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jesus spells it out...

Our gospel this morning is mysterious and ominous. The Pharisees are still not getting Jesus and he, in a rare moment of real human frustration, lets them know that they are still in the darkness of unbelief. Twice in this sad exchange, Jesus gives them the biggest clue to his divine nature. He refers to himself using God’s name – the sacred name given to Moses before the burning bush. Jesus says,

“For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

In a ministry encompassing three years of healing, teaching, story and miracle, this sentence may be the clearest self-revelation and the very reason for the Incarnation. What Jesus says to these hard-hearted Pharisees, he is saying to us.

“For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

I understand the first half of the sentence, but the second has been troubling me. What does it mean to “die in your sins?” I’m fairly certain that Jesus was not cursing them or predicting eternal damnation. That’s just not how the heart that made the universe operates. Maybe, to die in our sins means, that we have lived without hope – without the reality of God’s saving love. The connection in this one sentence between faith and its power over sin cannot be denied. I think many people die this way. Many people die without having lived in faith. Jesus doesn’t want that for anyone – not even a stubborn, self-righteous Pharisee. To die in our sins means, that we carry the weight of sin throughout our lifetime – that we never enjoy the relief of God’s forgiveness here. It would seem to be the whole point of his coming in flesh and bone.

As we move this week from Mary’s “yes” to the Lord’s Passion, we have an opportunity for profound gratitude. Because we believe that Jesus is the Christ – the great I AM – we will not die in our sins. Rather, we move toward death fully alive to God’s merciful love. No sin, no crime of the heart, no failure to love will keep us from the love of God revealed to us in Christ. That love is already ours for the taking. We need only to accept the gift that comes with faith and be grateful.

Blessings and love to you…
- Sister Vicki

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Positive Spin...

I got this idea last Saturday during our monthly Oblate meeting. [I LOVE our Oblates! I love them as unique people of faith and as the ambassadors of Saint Benedict in the world.] Somewhere in our time together, I wondered how we might respond to the "10 Commandments" if they were interpreted positively. I don't think we are like children who often want to do exactly the thing that has been prohibited, rather, I think adult faith demands a stance of blessing - the acceptance that GOD's wisdom is for our good. If we want to be happy we will observe these commandments. If do not observe them there is considerable misery. It's that simple, really. One path is peace and the other is angst of being out of sorts with GOD. [The gift of Reconciliation returns the heart to the place of original blessing, but if we could embrace the goodness of these ten words from GOD, we might find ourselves in the path of peace more often than not.] So, with that goal in mind, I have taken great liberties with the Word of GOD. I hope reframing the Decalogue as gift and not some list of "thou shalt not's" will be helpful to some.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki

1. I am the LORD your God:
you shall not have
strange Gods before me.
1+ Make GOD first in your life. Nothing else can give you real joy.

2. You shall not take
the name of the LORD your God in vain.
2+ GOD’s name is holy. Use it only when you pray and its power will bring you peace.

3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.
3+ Choose carefully what you do on Sunday and your family will grow closer to GOD and to each other.

4. Honor your father and your mother.
4+ Take care of your aging parents, as best you can, and you will understand the burden and blessing of unconditional love.

5. You shall not kill.
5+ Choose life always – even when it is hard - and you will know its fullness in your own.

6. You shall not commit adultery.
6+ Stay with your husband or wife and you will know the peace that comes from fidelity.

7. You shall not steal.
7+ Desire for things or ideas that belong to someone else can lead to mutual suffering so be attentive when you feel envious.

8. You shall not bear false witness
against your neighbor.
8+Tell the truth and you will never feel the shame of telling a lie.

9. You shall not covet
your neighbor's wife.
9+ Delight in the desire you have for your spouse and you will not want what is sacred to another relationship.

10. You shall not covet
your neighbor's goods.
10+ Be happy with what you have and you will not long for what belongs to someone else.

Friday, March 9, 2012

For something greater...

The Lectionary continues to be a source of great awe in my spiritual life. I wish I knew them – the biblical scholars who redacted the whole of Sacred Scripture into a three-year cycle of readings [A, B & C]. There is a wisdom in their work – especially in the sacred seasons of Advent and Lent – that touches me deeply. The readings for this morning – an “ordinary” Lenten weekday – are stunning in both their unique power and in their relationship to one another. This morning we are given the juxtaposition of Joseph and Jesus – the Joseph stripped of his coat of many colors and Jesus of Nazareth the anointed of God. Both share the unfortunate status of beloved son. Joseph - born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel – is the child of his old age and the fruit of his deepest love. Jesus, in today’s gospel, is the tragic hero of the parable he is telling – the vineyard owner’s son sent to bring peace and justice. “Surely, they will listen to my son,” the vineyard owner believes. Like Joseph stripped of his colors and thrown into a well of bitter envy, the son is dispatched by the workers - killed for his efforts on the Father's behalf.

How brilliant this connection of old and new! In both narratives envy is allowed to run its darkest course. And in both stories God uses the suffering of the innocent to become a blessing. Joseph is taken to Egypt where – through a series of struggles and divine interventions – he comes to power - power that will save the Hebrews from famine and death. And Jesus – stripped by human hands – lays aside his own glory and power to accept the suffering of death – the crushing isolation of being fully human. And because of his perfect obedience – because of the depth of his love for us and trust in the Father – God uses his sacrifice to bridge the divide of sin. God raises this gentle Jesus from the grave and in doing so raises us from the fear that has ruled the human condition. Death reigns no more.

I am in awe of this God who can make blessing from every suffering embraced and endured in the name of love. When we are misunderstood…when relationships end…when death claims one of our own…when failure trumps hope…when truth is lost in a sea of personal agendas…when justice is withheld by power…when violence is the currency of the nations…when we are stripped of our rainbow-colored coat…or nailed to some tree…then, if we offer that suffering – personal, communal and global – in prayer, the God of Jesus Christ will bring life from death. That is the promise made to Israel, the covenant sealed in the blood of Christ. Where there is real love, there is always sacrifice. Where there is sacrifice, there is always grace. Where there is grace, we find meaning. Where we find meaning, we know Christ's peace. Let us pray this day for all who are making some significant sacrifice for the love of God. It will be for something greater than we can see or imagine.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Fast...

Without music
I feel overwhelmed -
like thirsty grass
to merciless August heat.
The absence of strings and voices
Reveals some empty place
inside me -
a dark, dank crawl space
where challenging questions
lie in wait.
If I could just return
to the rushing, mystical beauty
of music
I would not have to “face the music”
in my restless soul.

Vicki Ix, OSB
Lent, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In the days before disappointment...

I wish I could remember my first sin – the first conscious awareness that my freedom could be misused and create blocks to the intimacy I shared with GOD. I guess it doesn’t really matter because when I made my first “confession” in second grade, I remember very clearly I had a list! Some kids were nervous about not having enough sins and asked to borrow a few as we waited on line. I had plenty to share! I was a scrupulous little kid – always sorry for something.

I believe there was a time before I disappointed God – a state of wholeness undefiled by guilt like that enjoyed by Adam and Eve before their “fall". As they hid from God in that garden, overwhelmed by shame, I know that the sight of me - utterly devoid of illusion, artifice, and rationalization -cannot be sustained for longer than it takes to do an examination of conscience. To be seen as God sees me would be too overwhelming. I might have to shift that beatific gaze with some diversionary tactics or even suggest that it’s all God’s fault anyway for making me so selfish and stubborn. I might also have to accept that I am loved so deeply that none of my tragic flaws will cause us to really part company. I might just have to embrace the God who is in this with me until we arrive back at that place we started out – that garden where we walked together in the days before disappointment, in the hour called delight.

Blessings and Lenten love,

- Sister Vicki

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The gift of sleep...

When I was little I used to wonder why God created day and night. Usually, that question would rise to the surface at this time of year when the days are long, but never quite long enough. Long after supper, my brother and I would still be outside running barefoot in the grass. As the light slowly faded, we’d chase fireflies just becoming visible and hope that my mother wouldn’t look at the clock. It seemed all wrong to go to bed as the light was still fading. Days like that should never end.

As children we resist sleep. When we’re grown up, we wonder why we ever railed against the rest we needed so badly. Sleep becomes a salvation – a resting place where we lay our burdens down for the night. The days are still long now - long with work, worry and anxiety. When evening comes, sometimes it’s all we can do to keep our eyes open until our head hits the pillow. We exhaust ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

Some of us want to sleep but can't or our sleep is disturbed. Sleeping "aids" are prescribed more than ever for those whose thoughts feel unrelenting. We are sold the product of the "perfect night's sleep" if we buy the right mattress system. Sleep disorders - diagnosed through a "study" - reveal that an alarming number of adults have been deprived of healthy sleep for years! Many have been functioning at full tilt while inwardly battling a profound and consistent exhaustion. Little or no REM sleep has physiological consequences. Now, thanks to good diagnostic tools and portable technologies, these empty sleepers can know true rest - deep sleep that reconstitutes body and soul.

Still...we long for the sleep of childhood. We long to be so physically tired that thoughts, worries and regrets have no room to settle. We long - somewhere deep inside - for our mother's soft bedtime voice, for her arms to rock us, her lips to gently kiss forehead or face. This love - though physically distant - remains real through grace. Our last prayer at night can summon its power. "You give my heart more joy than all their grain and wine. I sleep secure at night, you keep me in your care (Psalm 4:8-9)." We need to pray for peace, for good rest, for abiding love though the darkness of night.

God knew well the burdens of our humanity long before that first sunset and longed even then to restore our weary hearts. God placed hope into the blueprint of the cosmos with that first morning. And with each morning God’s mercies are new. This God who never “sleeps nor slumbers”, cradles us in loving arms through the night, and wakes us to a new day fresh with the dew of possibility – a day in which to live and love again – another day to praise God’s holy name for the steadfast love that never ceases to renew the face of the earth.

Blessings and love to you,

- Sister Vicki

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Morning Prayer,1970

It was you I heard that morning -
a bird singing early
in the days between spring rain

and summer heat.
I wanted to rise with the sun,
smell the sweetness of the morning,
walk with you

in the dew-soaked grasses.
I wanted to dig in the soil,
scatter seed,
pat the earth with the palm of my hand
and share in the mystery of your life.
But I was a child in nightclothes
kicking off the blanket,
stretching in wonder
at the gift

of a brand new day.

Vicki Ix, OSB

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"In the name of the Farmer..."

Today, the Feast of the Presentation, the universal Church celebrates “consecrated life.” [It will be explicitly named in prayer this Sunday.] Implicit is the lifting up of religious life in its many forms: apostolic, cloistered, monastic [which for us means contemplation and action]. I am usually eager to wave the vocation “flag” on this day and link the offering of so many lives to GOD with the offering of Jesus at the temple. Perhaps it is age, wisdom or just a more earthy sense of the mystery of vocation, but I am someplace else today. I am thinking that GOD calls every woman and man to fullness of life in Christ. By baptism our journey is inextricably linked to his. Though dormant throughout much of life, the grace of our baptism is always with us - one reason I believe infant baptism to be so important. This grace lies fallow like a seed in the cold ground awaiting the warmth of the sun. Then, as we encounter the living GOD somewhere in our journey – in human love, in the depths of grief or the beauty of Earth – the seed splits open and we are on our way. [One lovely thing about seeds is that they know exactly what to do after that. Grace knows, too. Grace is the love that carries us forward as we learn to listen to the Word.] Once the process kicks in, it remains a matter of adequate water and the passing of time. We are the ones who have to water the seed of faith in us. We need to embrace Scripture in some way, make time to be with GOD as we do with other important relationships, and we need to attach our solitary selves to a community of believers. It’s either very simple or, at times, a serious struggle to live the God-life. But because we have consecrated our lives to GOD, GOD will show us the way. So today, when I should be coming out with catchy vocation slogans, I am focused on the great mystery of GOD’s call in every life – the beauty and wonder of it. And, I am praying for every person who has not yet felt the sun’s rays through the soil of human life. The sun is always there. And GOD, the farmer, will not rest until we all begin to sprout shoots and bear good fruit. The harvest is too important. It is the very reign of GOD in every human heart.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Living now what is to come...

The second reading today caught my heart – my imagination. St. Paul is writing to the people of Corinth but his passion around the Second Coming feels very specific to our monastic life.

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

We who follow the Rule of Benedict do believe that the world is “passing away.” God’s reign, God’s kingdom is breaking through. Because we want to live ready for his coming, we don't take a marriage partner. We embrace celibate loving – love that is for all. Celibacy frees us to focus on the “bigger picture” of salvation and point to the love that is more than any human expression in time. Because we believe that Christ comes now - in each day, in each moment, in each breath – we practice eternal peace. We accept what is – the joy, the pain, the beauty, wonder and mystery of the human heart – and we trust that it all belongs in our personal or collective story. Because our real treasure is the love of Christ, we hold everything here in common. No thing must preoccupy us – tempt us from the singular joy of believing we are precious.

We love the world in all its fractured, terrible beauty but we recognize that it is not our true home. We have set our sights on Zion – the New Jerusalem – the beauty of God’s face. Until we get there, we keep on – together. We gather to pray, to eat, and to share the everyday sweetness of life lived in the Presence. We live aware of grace - how God’s love shapes us gently but firmly into something more wonderful than the sum of our parts. We live with urgency – Christ is here among us. We can let the world, as we have each known it, "pass away." No longer defined by what we did there, we delight in what we are becoming here – the Body of Christ. Hands, hearts, eyes of love for the world – we pray to be a sign that God is near, God cares, God comes and God is making all things new.

Blessing and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Your Kingdom coming...

There are moments here when the reign of God seems to burst in – shake us from the stupor of “to do” lists, worry and dis-ease and remind us that the Kingdom is, in fact, among us. Those moments are priceless. They make life really real – even for just a few moments. We had such an in-breaking here on Sunday afternoon when a gentle woman went from “stranger” to “sister”. I felt it. I saw it in the faces of my sisters gathered in our circle. I heard it in the joyful voices parting in harmony.

As I sat next to our newest member, I had the sense that this great step in her faith journey was allowing something to be perceived in ours – a taste of resurrection, a dawning of some new grace. Perhaps, as one sister said, days like this remind us all of why we came to the monastery and why we remain. I believe that to be true because days like this one confront us with the reality of God’s love for us. It’s literally right in our faces as we open the door to welcome the seeker into our midst. Maybe, it is this love – unending, enveloping and certain – that we feel when we gain a new sister. The risen Christ becomes especially tangible in the welcome of a novice - incarnate. In this presence there is deep is joy, lasting peace. This presence is the love that flows between us and among us – especially in the unbridled hope that wraps the gift of a new vocation. I felt it – felt something stirring in our hearts – what Benedict calls, “the inexpressible delight of love (RB Prologue, 49).” This is a taste of heaven here – our glimpse of what waits for us eternally - this same joy, this mysterious peace. Yes, the reign of God is begun among us. It is here – now – in the threshold places, in the beginning and end of things, in the love and the loss felt with equal measure. It is breaking through all that distracts us from loving or intends to be the true measure of our usefulness. Listen…learn…love. It is really that simple. Dear sister, child of God, welcome to your life with us in Christ.

[Read more about Sister Mary Frances at]

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki