Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reclaiming the Site

In November 1999, our Benedictines For Peace committee began a Reclaim the Site for Nonviolence effort--offering on-site prayer services whenever and wherever a homicide occurs in Erie. This week the 28th Reclaim the Site prayer service was held for the victim of a house fire that was ruled an arson. These 5:15 p.m. prayer services have had such a widespread effect that frequently the victim's families respond when contacted, "Are you the sisters that do the prayers? Would you do one for our brother?"
Young adults, murdered as the result of an argument or dispute, often between people under the influence, are the most common victims, but not always. We have held sites in residential areas, too.
The one thing they all have in common is the sadness and sincerity of the attendees: family members, neighbors, and anonymous members of the Erie community that gather together to mourn such tragedies in our midst.

Let us pray for an end to all violence--especially in our own cities, between our own neighbors.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Americas the Beautiful

Too often, in our country, the term patriotism is equated with a strong war mentality. That definition makes holidays such as July 4th and Memorial Day a difficult celebration for nonviolent, peace-loving, justice-seeking people. However, when patriotism embraces a spirit of freedom and acceptance, equality and care for all a country's people, the celebration can go on.
When we sing Miriam Therese Winter's lyrics for "America the Beautiful" on national holidays such as today, they do make our feelings of patriotism valid:

How beautiful, our spacious skies, our amber waves of grain;
our purple mountains as they rise above the fruitful plain.
America! America! God's gracious gifts abound,
and more and more we're grateful for life's bounty all around.

How beautiful, two continents, and islands in the sea
that dream of peace, non-violence, all people living free.
Americas! Americas! God grant that we may be
a hemisphere where people here all live in harmony.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Send Us Your Spirit

The new All Saints Church in Waterford was the setting for the spring diocesan priest-sister gathering this week: "Claiming Our Pentecosts: the Role of the Spirit in our Lives and Ministry." Rev. Scott Detisch, a former presider at Sunday Eucharist at the Mount, gave reflections on four "Pentecosts" in our lives: ecclesial, sacramental, personal, and cosmic. He was---as always---just great! The reflections were creatively intertwined with readings, psalmody, and sung canticles. Four of our sisters, a Sister of Mercy, and one of the diocesan priests provided the music. Scott and one of our sisters, a recent recipient of a doctorate in liturgy, put the event together.
This month, Scott is leaving his teaching position at Christ the King Seminary to become pastor of Holy Cross parish in Fairview, a suburb just west of Erie.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Follow the Leader

A pair of Canada geese are back at the pond in front of the plastics plant right up the road. Any day now we'll see this year's crop of fluffy goslings trailing after their mother in daily parades around the area.
Last Saturday some of our own goslings were back, following after our sister-recreational therapist all day. They started coming five or six years ago: high school students or young adults needing community service hours for school or after some minor infraction with the law.
For those who aren't Catholic, or even for those who are but have never been inside our place, it must be like entering a parallel universe! Shy, quiet, and obedient are their first reactions. But after two or three times they seem to relax, talk to us in the halls, and actually appear to catch on to the rhythm of the place and what's going on.
The Sister that they follow around all day is marvelous with them...teaching, sharing, modeling all sorts of behaviors, attitudes and lessons. At the end of their time she often invites their families to come for dinner, as a kind of informal "graduation." In the Benedictine world we call that hospitality....a unique version no doubt, but hospitality for sure.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where Is Love?

The Neighborhood Art House had its annual spring show last night: stage performances along with art displays and craft projects from the second semester classes. When I saw my first show 10 years ago, I thought that the musical Oliver had come alive in Erie....especially that opening scene of the ragtag children holding out their bowls, marching and singing "Food Glorious Food."
A decade later, after hours of classes, instruction, experiences, and practices the performances now showcase great talent and abilities that usually come only from private lessons or classes--unaffordable to most NAH families.
Congratulations to the sisters who are on the day-to-day staff and to the many others who help each year with public relations, fundraising, and behind the scenes special needs whenever asked.
"Where Is Love?" Love is right here.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Spring has burst out everywhere the last few days. Hummingbirds have returned to our window feeders, that unique spring green now colors the trees, and all the areas that have been muddy with construction received a leveling and that funny grass seed spraying they do nowadays.
The Spirit of the Seasons came back to the Mount this weekend,too. It was great to have all 25 of them for the Spring: Air as Transformation retreat weekend. Erie is a perfect place to hold a seasons-based retreat program as we have all four spades!
There was quiet time for private prayer, liturgy of the hours with the community, group activities, much laughter, and a few tears. It is good for us to have these seekers among us again. It helps us not take our own spiritual journeys for granted.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Silver Lace

One of our sisters is in the end stage of cancer. After many years in remission it came back two years ago last February. Everything about her journey is inspiration. One bonus for us is her return to the poetry writing she began as a child. A chapbook of her poems, A Hermit Holds My Heart, has just been published (Benetvision ). Here's my favorite, written to our oldest member:

For Margaret Harrison

It is too late for miracles
my friend.
You wear your years
like silver lace
your hair white as ermine.
Ninety three years
lean toward resurrection,
and I do not begrudge
you that journey.

But I, too,
move toward death.
Yes, I am young
but more than half your age.
I am growing familiar with tumors
and aching flesh.
My soul years are tidied up
and finished like drying hay.
I am also ready
for resurrection.

So, let us leave God in peace.
I promise I will not beg for your longevity
if you will stop hounding heaven for mine.
We have no need for miracles

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Tisket a Tasket

About 125 of our major donors joined us for Sunday liturgy and brunch yesterday. "The weather cooperated beautifully" as they say: sunny, warm---the best of spring in the northeast. As part of our annual thank you, donors receive a small gift bag. One year it included a key chain with a wooden fob made by a sister who is a wood turner. Another year, a 5" x 7" cross-stitched Benedictine cross with "Pax" in the center---the product of a half dozen sister crafters. Our donors always ooh and aah at the year's special gift, but we know why they really come: the fresh loaves of Benedictine bread that are a part of the bags each year! We could probably skip everything else and just give a "breads basket" and they'd still faithfully attend. I can't believe the $50,000+ gift baskets for last year's Oscar award presenters are more valued....or delicious.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mint Julep Week

The deer have returned to our backyard. Somewhere between 7:00-8:00 pm most nights they emerge from the woods that borders two sides of the Mount. They slowly graze, stop at the salt lick, and wander in and out, making their way across the backyard before turning north to cross East Lake Road to the lake side of our property for the night. (At least that's where we think they're going.) This week we witnessed a first: three of them, not the fawns we saw do this last summer, initiated their own Kentucky Derby of sorts, as they ran, full out, the length of the yard next to the tree line, for about 15 minutes. Back and forth, back and forth, pausing only long enough to take a breath before turning around and tearing back the other way. We are used to seeing the fawn romp and jump and frolic, but we had never witnessed grown deer in such a racing contest. Must be the week, even though we are 400 miles from Kentucky!

(Future posts will announce the arrival of this year's fawn....we hope.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Stained-Glass Windows

We are all still reeling from the "official" opening of the renovated chapel this weekend. This morning's Morning Praise was breathtaking. The no-longer-carpeted floor, now ceramic tiled....and the no-longer acoustically-tiled ceiling, now Pennsylvania natural wood have transformed the sounds of the chant and music. It is overwhelming. The 16 floor to ceiling stained-glass windows still make up the north and south walls. I'm taking a seat on the north side, facing south, so that I have a view of the morning sun through the windows and their reflections on the tiles.

One of the most popular Benedictine mottoes fits the day: That in all things may God be glorified.