Thursday, July 31, 2008

Monastic Lexicon #3


In 1906, the community purchased 120 acres in Harborcreek Township--some of it bordering the lakeshore and some extending across East Lake Road. In 1969, the Mount was built on the East Lake Road section of the property, but it was preceded by a summer camp for girls that was opened on the lakeshore half of the property in 1930 and named Camp Glinodo.

The acronym-like word, Glinodo, comes from letters in the Latin phrase of the Benedictine motto: "In all things may God be glorified."

In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus.

In 1980 the name Camp Glinodo was changed to Glinodo Conference Center and it operated for over 25 years as a center for environmental studies, spirituality programs, and general use.

Today the environmental program, EarthForce, has its offices at the peninsula-located Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the retreat program is held primarily at the Mount, but is also "taken on the road," and the general usage is limited to sisters' family gatherings and time off/recreation for the community.

It remains a gorgeous piece of land: 1,000 feet of lakeshore, the last quarter mile of Seven Mile Creek, and the quiet wooded home of many birds, small animals, our deer, and occasional fishermen and women.

If you hear anyone in the community say, "I'm going down to camp," they mean that they're going down to the Glinodo side of our property!

Seven Mile Creek

Photo by Ann Muczynski, OSB

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Week of July

It's the last week of July already and we continue to be blessed with beautiful warm summer weather. We often remember in our prayer the people who have been so affected by natural disasters this summer: floods in the midwest, fires in the far west...and nearly everyone by the wars in the Middle East (not a natural disaster at all--totally our own doing).

The Mount library, which has been upended since February (see Feb. 21st entry) is close to being its old self again. Half the floor has been carpeted and all the stacks and furniture have been moved to that half. Hopefully this week the second half will get its carpet and then it can all be put back and become the library we know.

Most of us will get a three-day break from ministry next week as our annual Summer Community Days take place August 6-9. Two of those days will bring Barbara Reid, OP, to us to give four presentations on biblical women--different ones than you'd normally expect: Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla, etc. Barbara is a scripture scholar.

Summer Community Days always include a recreational outing for the community. This year a trip to the Erie Zoo is being proposed. I have been to our zoo many times and it is a great place--very modern and diverse, well taken care of and enjoyable. Two years ago I even won a county-wide contest to name the three Amur male leopard cubs that were born there. The prizes? A season long zoo pass, a framed colored picture of the cubs, $100 gift cert. to Ricardo's restaurant and three small stuffed animal leopards! Amur leopards are indigenous to Russia so I submitted the three names Vladimir, Vitaly and Viktor--and won!

Isn't this nice? It's the display on the cabinets in our new gathering space outside of chapel. The plate is Thomas' and the candlestick Sister Christine brought back from South Africa.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Sad Vigil

Another homicide brought us to the streets for a Reclaim the Site for Nonviolence prayer vigil this week. Unfortunately, this vigil had a unique component that none of the others have had: it was the second vigil held at the same street corner, for an act of violence outside of the same bar.

After the 15-minute prayer, the local media (seen on the left here) interviewed the victim's grandmother. Other family members spoke, too, of the goodness of the young man who was shot and begged for an end to such unnecessary loss of life. Coverage of the event was carried by our three local news channels both that evening and in the early morning telecasts of the next day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thanks to Our Employees

Yesterday we had our annual Employee Picnic across the street on our Glinodo Center grounds. The community has about 25 full time employees and another dozen or so that are part time, on call, or just fill in when we need them.

They work in our maintenance department, kitchen, housekeeping and, the majority, work in our infirmary.

It was a good old fashioned summer picnic with hot dogs, ox roast sandwiches (this may be only an Erie thing!), potato salad, baked beans and the traditional munchies!

The afternoon held two special highlights: first, the 12 gift baskets that one of our most talented sisters made up as door prizes. One of the "baskets" was a red wagon full of large stuffed animals including a five foot long caterpillar! Another was a red plastic sled (yes, a snow sled--we don't forget our other six months even on an 85 degree July afternoon!). It too was filled with stuffed animals and dolls.

The second highlight was our newly renovated outdoor pool. The kids, and some adults, had a wonderful time in it.

A third highlight was this: How did a thunderstorm that we watched on the weather channel coming through Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, ever miss us? But it did..and the whole afternoon was wonderful.

It's the very least we can do as a small summer thank you to these wonderful people who work along side of us to make our lives and the Mount the place it is--for both residents and guests.

The husband and daughters of our infirmary manager.

One of our do-it-all maintenance men.

A food service gal and her two sons.

Photos by Charlotte Anne Zalot, OSB

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's Not About Numbers

One of our sisters, Sr. Corinne Moske, died this week. Each time the number of sisters in community changes, I tend to dabble in my first profession: mathematics, as the "statistical footprint" of our community changes.

There are 108 in our community today, our average age is between 69 and 70, the median age (the 54th oldest person) is about a year less. The mode (most frequent age) is the 60s, with a full 34% of the community in that decade. The range extends from 96 to 43, and one standard deviation (the middle 2/3rds of the group) is from 81 to 59.

There are a couple other mathematically-trained sisters in our community. They'll understand all that and maybe even be interested! It never seems to me to be an area that goes well with monastic life. The spiritual journey surely isn't meant to be measured, averaged, and calculated in any of these least not these days.

I think the best thing we analytic types can do is befriend an artist. Someone who can't do a 15% tip in her head and doesn't care or want to; Someone who doesn't count tile blocks in a room to get an approximate area, and certainly would rather go to a local summer music concert, watch a PBS special on visiting Venice, or just chit-chat away an evening strolling down to the lake with Sister #54 and not care one bit that she is the median!

Of course I'm stereotyping--but you get the point--it's good to keep our analytical sides in check, I think. Heaven is not about measuring!

Full Obituary

Photo by Ann Muczynski, OSB

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Summer Benedict

Friday the 11th was the summer feast of Benedict, in contrast to the late winter solemnity of Benedict, March 21. We had a feast day supper in the dining room with lots of guests and with Evening Praise intertwined. We've done this a number of times now and it is a very meaningful experience. It's really an experience of the connection between liturgy and a meal.

Later that evening I talked to one of our oblates who lives in northern England. She celebrated a glorious feast because one of our Sunday presiders is there for a week visiting her and taking in the moors of this scenic part of the country. He celebrated Eucharist in the retreat center chapel attached to her home. They extended invitations to numerous friends from all branches of our common Christian faith. She telephoned at 7:00 pm our time (I think midnight or 1:00 am theirs) to exclaim about the event. "We even had eucharistic bread from the Mount," she said, as one of our bakers sent her the recipe.

One of the perks of working for AIM USA is the exposure we get to artists from other Benedictine/Cistercian houses and their artistic expressions within our monastic life. Here is a Benedict and Scholastica from Latin America.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sr. Bertrille and Boniva

The July-August issue of our Catholic diocesan magazine, Faith, is now online. I was asked again to write four blog-like entries for it. Two I adapted from ones I had written here, the other two I wrote new just for this issue.

Here is one of the new ones--that I titled, "Memories of Sr. Bertrille."

"The director of the Women’s Studies Dept. at Loyola University of Chicago is on a sabbatical, taking time to produce and film a full-length documentary, A Question of Habit. Her thesis is that the visual portrayals of nuns in pop culture (movies, greeting cards, T-shirts, print ads, TV commercials, even Halloween costumes) don’t show or do service to the reality of who nuns are and what they are doing in our culture today.

Recently, the film crew on this project spent a day with us. They were here to interview Joan Chittister as one of the most well-known and best articulators of the life of women religious in the U.S. In addition to the interview, they taped our community’s Evening Praise and visited some of the Benedictine community ministries to use as background shots for the film.

As we talked to the film crew about Whoopi Goldberg, Sally Field, Julie Andrews and other media portrayals, the discussions took me down memory lane, for I spent my first three years in community dressed in the traditional habit – the 17th century garb of women religious that we were still wearing. One day I was walking along West 7th Street from nearby St. Andrew’s School. I passed lots of children playing outdoors on this residential street. As I came toward one group of preschoolers, I looked at them and said, “Hello there.” Immediately they turned, looked at me, and responded with their own “Hi’s.” And then one stepped toward me, paused and asked, “Can you fly?” The Flying Nun was at that time a big TV hit, remember?

Thankfully I had enough experience with little children – or maybe it was just the grace of the moment – but I paused and then responded, “Well, when the wind is right, I certainly do try!” Which, as I think about it now, years later, still fits: when the wind of the Spirit is right, I certainly do try – lots of things."

I was tempted, but resisted, adding at the end, "And what of Sr. Bertrille today, 40 years after her novitiate? You can see her on any number of TV commercials explaining the benefits of boniva--the calcium supplement for the boomer generation!"

If you'd like to see all four of the entries, click here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Marvelous Weekend

A weekend of three days of perfect summer weather also brought a dry, clear and crisp evening for fireworks. A group went out to the Mercyhurst campus in North East and saw some beautiful ones. Here's one captured on film by our visiting sister from Korea.

Photo by Elia Lee, OSB

There were activities galore for the entire community all weekend. Every day there were DVD's in the community room; a group went out to the peninsula, toured the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and rode the new roller coaster; others spent time down at the lake; our golfers got in a couple rounds and many either visited family members or had them to the Mount for a meal and a good time. Sunday morning's liturgy was packed, both with familiar faces and out-of-towners just up for the holiday, I guess.

If you wonder why I tend to "gush" over the beautiful weather in the spring and summer--and everything that spins off of it--here is something of an explanation. These two photos are of the same area: the east end of our memory garden. That's a statue of St. Scholastica, which, of course, everyone mistakes for the Blessed Mother. After all, who has seen many statues of any other female saint!

One was taken in July, the other in February.
So if you come to visit--come in July!

Photos by Bernadette Sullivan, OSB

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July 4th Thoughts

During the War of 1812, a young Navy Commodore, Oliver Hazard Perry, bettered six British warships in the Battle of Lake Erie. His message, "We have met the enemy and they are ours" is one of the enduring memories of that battle.

One of his nine ships, the brig Niagara, was reconstructed in 1990 and became seaworthy again. Its berth is in Erie, part of the Erie Maritime Museum, right downtown next to the county library.

It travels a great deal during the summer, appearing at local boat festivals and displays of naval history events, but can often be seen in full sail in our bay and out on the lake. Here it is right off the Glinodo shore.

Photo by Ann Muczynski, OSB

On another note: An addition to our Morning Praise on the 4th, will be these thoughts from the late minister and peace activist, William Sloane Coffin, Jr. in his book, Credo. They seem especially apropos in a presidential election year:

"The abiding faith that this country needs for its spiritual restoration and future health is the faith of the prophets, who loved Israel, but whose love for their country was often measured by their deep disappointment with it.

Prophetic faith is full of anger, yet always anchored in the goodness of God, not in hatred of enemies. Prophetic faith recognizes that economic tyranny can be as great as political tyranny. It sees justice as central to salvation. It recognizes that God's unconditional concern for justice is not a projection upon God of our human attributes, but rather that, to the degree that we embody justice, God takes form within us.

For American liberty to be restored and extended, American Christians need to carry on with their country the same lover's quarrel that the prophets of old carried on with Israel, and that God consistently carries on with the whole world.

When a government betrays the ideals of a country, it is an act of loyalty to oppose the government. We must take the road less traveled as the prophets did and be more concerned with our country saving its soul than with it losing face."