Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two of the best

Lots of new things on our community website. If you haven't been there lately take a look.

Of all the hundreds of columns and articles about the LCWR and the Vatican's CDF findings here are two of the best I've read. This one is from The Nation.

And here's a statement from a group of courageous priests:

A Statement of Support For the LCWR

The members of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests would like to add our name to the chorus of support for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Network and the Resource Center for Religious Life.

We want to thank the sisters for their major role in building the Church in the United States from coast to coast.

We want to thank them for their whole hearted response to the request of Vatican II to return to the charisms of their founders and continuously seek renewal.

We want to thank the sisters for answering the call of Vatican II to minister to those at the margins of society as well as those suffering most in society.

We want to thank the sisters for not judging or condemning our brothers and sisters who are gay or lesbian or women who feel called to ordained ministry.

We want to thank the sisters for their radical obedience to the voice of God in spite of opposition from those who should support them.

We pray that the outpouring of support from many quarters for the sisters and these brave, professional, and Spirit-filled organizations will shield them from the attacks of our modern day Pharisees.

We are grateful that the sisters have read the signs of the time in the light of the Gospel in so many ways, especially in their positive understanding of feminism which by its nature is “radical”, thank goodness.

We hope that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the American bishops, archbishops, and cardinals as he/she did Peter and Paul so that they defend wholeheartedly our American sisters and seek the immediate end to the outrageous, hurtful and scandalous mandate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Years ago Father Bill Bausch wrote a book called Take Heart Father. We want to say,” Take heart sisters!” You are not alone!

Pentecost 2012.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two meditations

What a magnificent Pentecost Sunday Liturgy we had yesterday. Very special--and a large and involved group of people who came to share it with us. We had singing, a little dance, memorized and read readings, great homily and much celebratory music. Spirit-filled for sure!

Two "meditations" from Mary Oliver that seem fitting for the day after the celebration of Pentecost:

So Every Day

So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,

one of which was you.

Where Are You?

Where are you?
Do you know that the heart has a dungeon?
Bring light! Bring light!

This little chipmunk was trying to figure out a way to leap from this tree over to my feeder. Ha, ha little fella, no limb gets close enough---I hope.

And here is one of the 10 blue spruce saplings that I received from the Arbor Association just for asking. One of them is struggling, but the other nine seem to have adapted to this new home, right below my windows, in a protected area of other bushes and trees. They stay there for about 18 months and then can be transplanted to grow to full stature, which I believe is about 25 feet high.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

80 and holding

When we go out for walks "around the back forty" I often grab my camera. Two baby fawn have already been sighted, but not by me....yet. Over at Benetwood Apartments we were just walking casually by one of their out buildings, happened to glance sideways and caught these irises perfectly framed by the building.

Amidst all the riot of color, as the poets say of spring, I noticed some very pure white parts lately. These irises are right outside my office window and really do stand out in an otherwise yellow, pink, purple, red and green world.

A final note as we drift into the Memorial Day weekend and its annual grill-outside picnic--the local news showed a weather forecast not often seen hereabouts: The upcoming five-day forecast of high temperatures--80, 80, 80, 80, 84. WOW!

Monday, May 21, 2012

People of the summer

Walking through our dining room Saturday I was struck by a sight that was just wonderful: four gals who are visiting us sitting at a table having lunch. What was so unusual about that? Two things: 1) they were not with a group, they had come on their own and 2) they are all 20-somethings, had become aware of each other's visit over the weekend and connected for lunch.

No, they're not "signing up," don't go there! They belong, I believe, to that growing group of people that seem to just like being here--for a weekend, a retreat or a little time away. Maybe it's just the atmosphere of the Mount, our monastic prayer, the sisters they've met or the acceptance they experience. It was so nice to have all four here at once. Lots of smiles, great friendliness and, best of all, they seem so comfortable around us.

Additionally, we had a 40s-something group of catechists for the weekend, from a small parish down in our diocese. There were 6 of them I think and they were terrific, too. First time for all but one, who brought the rest.

Thank you to all our guests who, after they find us, like what they find enough to share it with others, even bring others back with them. We love "meeting the world"---right in our own dining room, chapel, guest hall, hermitages, and all around our grounds. Welcome!

Irises are in full bloom in Erie. These are right in one of our gardens.

These are not some of our visitors, but are "in bloom" all around our area, too. So fuzzy and cute.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I, too, was a Girl Scout

I don't reference many of our Sister Joan's writings for you primarily because our own site does that very well and also because there wouldn't be much room left to write my own "important stuff"! But this one is worth reading for lots of reasons: it's both serious and "funny," it has an interesting book review in it, for all of us who don't take the time to read everything we'd like, and if you don't regularly read her NCRonline columns, you might enjoy one once in awhile. You'll find it here.

On the same topic, this week I read two commentaries in The Tablet from London. It's always interesting to read about the US from another country's perspective. Here's an excerpt from one of the columns--by Benedictine Laurence Freeman.

These are not crazy, dangerous women. They are deeply loved and respected.

"The recent debacle over the Vatican’s criticism of the women religious of the United States is widely felt to emerge from a clericalism that has lost its sense of humility and proportion. It is most evident in the unloving tone that ignores the amazing fidelity and self-sacrifice of this group of American Catholic women over many generations. American nuns can be radical and outspoken. Like Americans generally, they can act unilaterally and be intemperate of speech compared with other cultures, because if they feel in the right they just go for it. This can no doubt be irritating for those who see their role as holding the church line against the flood of relativism and secularism. But that’s community for you; Religious are not clerics, especially women religious. Religious life is a form of the discomfiting order of prophets that wander around in the Old Testament.

"They troubled priests and kings. But they had the mark of God on them. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in [their] mouth…Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable." (Deuteronomy 18:18ff) Yes, prophecy is a matter of discernment. But clerics should be wary of hearing only the negative in the prophet’s utterances and over-reacting with force. Even when the tone is harsh or the theology unorthodox, the spirit of wisdom and love can be trying to get in between the clerical cracks.

"These are not crazy, dangerous or disruptive women. They are deeply loved and respected by Catholics and non-believers alike. One of my dearest friends was an American nun, educated and wise, who held strong, prophetic views. She told me once how she had spent years teaching elementary school. Her order worked for the bishop for next to nothing. And because it had no money for accommodations, she and many of her sisters had to set up their beds to sleep in the classrooms at night. Those who speak prophetic words from such a history deserve to be listened to even–or especially–if what they say is irritating."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Erie's many lighthouses

Here's another in my unofficial Favorite Benedictine Local Haunts series: the Lighthouse Inn and Restaurant. Located exactly 3 miles from us, on East Lake Road, it is a kind of throwback of a motel. Although its rooms have mini refrigs, Internet access, etc. it looks like something from the 1960s or 70s.

When our bedroom halls were being renovated a few years ago the Lighthouse was our savior. Many of our guests and oblates were put up there because our guest wing was used by the sisters. The accommodations were fine, the rates were unbelievably low and access to the restaurant was a definite plus. It is open only for breakfast and lunch, with delicious food and a regular clientele.

Remembering the old business axiom about location, location is one of its primary pluses--as it's situated right on the border of the GE plant--without much eatery competition nearby. You can always see a few GE workers in there for morning coffee or a quick lunch--ditto for overnight visitors who prefer the quiet and access to the Lake and nearby golf course over staying downtown.

The Inn's "lighthouse." One of Erie's three real lighthouses is just two miles down the road, on Lighthouse St. of course

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's up?

Often when Sunday and Wednesday roll around and it's time for a blog post I ask myself, What's going on around the monastery that I want to share? Or, in the favorite phrase of the pet parrot I bird-sit every morning, What's up?

If you were visiting us this week you would find us rather "laid back," I think. The days seem to be hovering around "average." We have our usual number of guests, especially on weekends, including a woman who was interested in our Benedicta Riepp program. Sisters attended the funeral service of the sister-in-law of one of our sisters and also attended the funeral of a longtime donor/supporter of the community. Summer vacation time has begun with a few sisters taking a week of vacation for some much-needed R&R and refreshment. Many are spending more time outdoors as our weather is sunny and in the 60s most days--with occasional rainy days and occasional 70 and 80 temps. Lots of flowers, bushes and the last of the trees are blooming still and the salt lick for our deer was placed in the apple orchard this week, so we're all ready for the doe and their new fawn.

Liturgically, Ascension Thursday and Pentecost are looming and then it's back to Ordinary Time, which will be welcomed after the many weeks of Easter and Lent.

And that's the news from Lake Wobegon.

Hyacinths always seem to get too heavy for their stems.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So this is a weekend

Lots of community events, including Easter itself 4 weeks ago, have taken up our weekends of late, but this one was "free"...and the spirit among the sisters was palpable as many took up their long laid aside hobbies and interests with a vengeance during the sunny May weekend.

Yours truly decided to play "nature girl" and be outside as much as possible. First came some time cleaning the effects of winter off the cloister walk windows--a greatly satisfying chore! I also put two hummingbird feeders up and saw some of the birds already. Oranges for our Baltimore Orioles also came back in our inner courtyard, with memories of Sr. Mary Margaret Kraus who was so faithful at supplying them. A long walk through the woods saw that the Jacks in the Pulpit are up and all the May Apples are blooming wildly. That was followed by some time at the lakeshore, actually in the sun. Then came a stop at the Diary Queen, since it's an old fashioned walk up only, it counts as being outside! On the way home we drove down to an overlook at the Lake and caught a beauty of a sunset. Hope your weekend--was a weekend, too.

Through it all we were mystified by the occurrence of little flitting butterflies everywhere we went. A quick google search came up with this from our local paper last week: they are Red Admiral butterflies. Read this from Erie's top birder, Jerry McWilliams.

A couple new stories on our community website if you haven't visited lately.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It can't be five years

I had planned on mentioning LTSGW's 3rd anniversary this week (May 1st), but when I double-checked just to be sure, it turned out to be the end of the 5th year! How in the world did that happen? But sure enough, the first entry was May 1, 2007. Geeeesh!

Thanks to all of you who have been faithful readers and thanks for sharing it with others---that goes double for our community website, too. There are so many good things on it all the time.

I've added a new direct link to Mary Lou K's blog--see right-hand column for the "Heart of the Matter." She is a great writer and her entries are always so good. I hope you get in the habit of checking it every week or so.

American nuns are in the mainstream media right now. This seems to happen every couple of years. You can follow lots of the columns and major media coverage on the Vatican's findings on the LCWR assessment here and, of course, you can google to your heart's desire!

A dozen or so of us are reading the Hunger Games trilogy. There are lists in each of the books and when you finish one you just cross out your name and pass it on. I'm about #5 on each list and have read the first two. They are very creative and thought-provoking. The classic story of good vs. evil, power vs. spirit, even with a little love story. Here's my first attempt at a visual commentary/cartoon based on these books.