Archive for March, 2017

 Bona Opera

Posted by admin On March - 12 - 2017

Since joining the Mt Tabor Benedictines in 1985, each Lenten Season I’ve filled out a Bona Opera, (Good Works), a monastic practice throughout the world.  As a new monastic, I would find myself trying to go way above what was asked of me.  For example, more praying, fasting, alms giving and the hopes that one could start and finish an entire spiritual book before the Lenten Season was over.  I should have realized that I would have trouble with doing “additional and or above” as I was already having trouble with doing what was expected.

After 31 years, I hopefully have grown a little wiser as a monastic.  I believe that Benedict wanted his followers to be faithful with their prayer, fasting, alms giving and  to read spiritual books written by those who have lived monastic life well.

As we begin another Lenten season, I am not looking at what I will give up, or what more can I do, but rather how well do I do with what is given to me, how do I respect each person in my community and beyond, do I follow through on commitments made, do I take time for daily private prayer, reading books that help me become more of who God created me to be and am I present at community prayer?  Do I make good use of my down time or do I find myself spending too much time on the computer either playing games or on Facebook?

In “The Telling Takes us Home, the People’s Pastoral Letter it talks about “Practicing Resurrection in places of Crucifixion”.  May we be mindful of the crosses of people without work.  The crosses of struggling single mothers.  The crosses of those suffering from addiction.  The crosses of young people who lack hope and a sense of purpose.  The crosses of those with mental and physical disabilities, the crosses of those who are scapegoats in their own communities because of their race, ethnicity, or sexuality and the crosses of refugees.

May this Lenten season bring us closer to God and learn to look for what brings us together rather than what divides us. Sr. Kathleen

 

How Do We Respond?

Posted by admin On March - 12 - 2017

Several weeks ago, in case no one noticed, our country experienced what seems to some of us to be a seismic paradigm shift as a result of the 2016 presidential election.  Upon these shifting sands, we are called to re-ground ourselves in our most fervently-held values, both personally and collectively.

The Mt. Tabor community sets aside one Sunday each month as a retreat day – a day of silent reflection, usually focused on a theme, book or article pertinent to the current situation.  Recently, this topic had to do with how each of us (given our personalities and circumstances) are called to respond to social change.  We loosely identified these “response types” as 1) activism, 2) direct service, and 3) contemplation.

As thought-starters we reflected on a reading on activism by Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.; an article about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy (direct service); and an article by Thomas Merton (contemplation).

We found that, while there is probably overlap among the three methods, most of us are pulled toward one more than to the others in trying to “change ‘the world’” or to “change the world for one person”.

So whether we march or serve soup or consciously try to connect with the divine through prayer and contemplation, the time for action is now – and God will companion with us in however we are called to respond!

 

– Sr. Mary

 

“The Good News Gospel”

Posted by admin On March - 12 - 2017

Some of us at the monastery are studying the Gospel of Mark.  Mark calls it the “Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ”.   As we learn that Mark was writing to a people who were being persecuted for their faith we realize how important it was for them to be rooted firmly in that faith and to know Jesus personally.  Only then could they understand that the “good news” means that we are saved from death.  After this life – there is still life for us!  It is a life free from persecution, pain and suffering.   And this is ours, given by God who loves us unconditionally!

Most of us have heard these things all our lives.  But have we really heard them?

As we enter into this season of lent we are presented with an opportunity to ponder what this “good news” means for us today.  Many people live in a world of fear – fear of violence and physical harm, emotional abuse and worry about what the future holds.  The words “deportation” and “racism” bring new levels of fear and anxiety.  The media is especially good at keeping the negative emotions stirred up.

The good news of Jesus does not tell us that these difficult things will go away but that we are not alone in facing them.  When we say we feel all alone, God’s response is “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).  When we say I am afraid, God’s response is “I have not given you a spirit of fear” (II Tim. 1:7).  So if God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear why is it that we have it?

In a daily meditation book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, we are reminded to keep our focus on Christ and his presence with us.  This helps us to be grateful for our many blessings even as we face great trials, and gratefulness blocks out fear.  Lent then can be a time to focus our lives on Christ, mindful of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Our Lenten resolutions can be ones that lead us to understand more deeply the good news of Jesus Christ and lead us to live in a spirit of gratitude.  We then can listen to what RESPONSE God is asking us to make in this time of uncertainty.  How are we being called to be neighbor to those around us who feel threatened?

We here at the monastery keep you all in our prayers, that you may know that you are loved by God, called by God and supported by God in this journey.  So then Easter will be celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving.  Peace and Easter blessings to all of you.    Sr. Eileen

 

CROCUS

Posted by admin On March - 12 - 2017

Outside the front door to our residence hall, a phenomenon happens each year that stirs my spirit. It is the blooming of one particular crocus. It reminds me so much of what living in the mountains of eastern Kentucky is really about overcoming.

What makes it unique is that it is planted right next to the sidewalk of the residence hall beneath a large oak tree in compacted, rocky soil. These are the absolute worst conditions in which to grow a plant. Yet it has returned each of the eight years that I have lived in that building.

It is small. It blooms for maybe a week. It usually only puts out three or four white blooms and then disappears for another year.  And its appearance lightens my spirit.

This year the crocus came on February 10th and it has been more productive than usual, producing at least six blooms so far although it may be at the end of its season-just as we enter Lent.

The crocus reminds me that even when life is hard and conditions are rocky, I can still bloom. It reminds me that being a consistent presence may be exactly what someone else needs to get through a “rocky patch”. And it reminds me that even when something is no longer visible, it still lives.

I hope there is a crocus in your life. And that its short bloom leads you to the eternal God. Sr. Kathy C.