Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent...a time for growth


Lent is a time for growing in our love for God.  The symbol greeting us outside our Chapel continues to illustrate this call to conversion of heart.  How have you been growing in love this Lent?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Lenten Tour...


The Lenten season isn't known for its decorations, but here at the monastery Lent finds its way into many places.

Rule of Benedict:  chapter 49
On the Observance of Lent

Although the life of a monk out to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance...we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent the brethren keep their lives most pure and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the negligences of other times...and give ourselves up to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

The sisters have set a reminder at the entrance to Bishop Marty Chapel, "Grow in the Understanding of the Riches Hidden in Christ!"

Rule of Benedict:  chapter 49
On the Observance of Lent (cont'd)

During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.  Thus everyone of his own will may offer God "with joy of the Holy Spirit" something above the measure required of him.  From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking, and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter.

The monastic dinning room and even the hall leading to its doorway have reminders of Benedict's call to sisters' personal offerings and sacrifices for Lent.

Rule of Benedict: chapter 52
On The Oratory of the Monastery

Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there.  When the work of God is ended, let all go out in perfect silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any sister who may wish to pray privately will not be hindered by another's misconduct.

Lenten purple in St. Joseph's Chapel for our sisters in the Care Center.  The bulletin board outside the chapel reminds our sisters, old and young, to continue the Lenten work of conversion of heart .

Rule of Benedict: chapter 58
On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

After that let her live in the novitiate, where the novices study, eat and sleep. A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled at winning souls, to watch over them with the utmost care. Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God, and whether she is zealous for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials. Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways by which the journey to God is made.

The sisters in formation shared a variety of symbols that reminded them of Lent for their reflection table and prayer.

A group of professed sisters also set a table for reflection and prayer with simple purple, rough burlap, and the call to the cross.

Rule of Benedict:  chapter 52
On The Oratory of the Monastery (cont'd)

And at other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.  She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said. 

The hallway to our Peace Chapel is dominated by our Good Friday Cross announcing the message, "By His Holy Cross He has redeemed the world!"  Each day of Lent new groups of the "Heavily Burdened" are added to the Cross calling us to loving prayer for those in need.

Our daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours are celebrated in the Peace Chapel amid the simple stone and purple banners of Lent.

Rule of Benedict:  chapter 49
On The Observance of Lent (cont'd)

Let each monk, however, suggest to his Abbot what it is that he wants to offer, and let it be done with his blessing and approval.  For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward.  Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.

Our Lenten resolutions, received and blessed by the Prioress on Ash Wednesday, remain before the altar throughout the Lenten season as a reminder to us and a continuous offering and sacrifice to the Lord.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Honoring our Foundress


We commemorate each of our sisters' death anniversaries with special prayer intentions for that sister.  Today, we remember and honor our foundress Mother Gertrude Leupi.  Her courage lead her to follow Bishop Martin Marty's invitation to service.  Leaving the Swiss Alps of Maria Rickenbach convent for the windswept plains of the Dakota Territory.

The entrance to the garden and mausoleum of Mother Gertrude
 at Marienburg convent in Switzerland.
The tomb of Mother Gertrude.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.  May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.
Mother Gertrude Leupi was born on March 1, 1825.
She professed her Benedictine vows on March 21, 1848 and lived 25 years
at the convent of Maria Rickenbach in the Swiss Alps.
The then served in North America for 12 years
as a foundress and superior of new Benedictine convents.
She then returned to Switzerland,
founded the Marienburg convent and later died March 27 (26), 1904.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Holy Triduum Retreat


Experience the liturgy and silence of Holy Week by attending the Paschal Triduum retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD.  Join us in praying the Liturgy of the Hours and celebrating the rich liturgies of Holy Week.  While pausing for this time of personal prayer with Christ and our community, you will have the option of conferences with a spiritual director to reflect on the rich symbolism of these sacred days.  You will also be invited to join the sisters for meals, to walk our monastic grounds, and to your personal reflection in the Peace Center prayer room or our Chapel.  This silent retreat begins on Holy Thursday, April 17th at 4:00pm and ends on Easter Sunday.

Follow the Paschal Triduum retreat link for more information, contact details, and registration forms.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Solemnity of the Passing of Saint Benedict


While the universal Church honors Saint Benedict with a memorial to him as abbot in the midst of July, we Benedictines commemorate the anniversary of his death today.  Here at Sacred Heart Monastery we join Benedictines around the world in celebrating the Passing of our Holy Father Benedict with great joy.  How you might ask...

Prayer for the feast began on the eve of the day with a solemn procession of statio into first Vespers.  The solemnity continues today with chanted and sung prayer honoring Saint Benedict at Lauds and the celebration of the Eucharist the next morning.  Even in the midst of repentant Lent, our joy overflows into the hallways and offices.  The greetings of "Happy Feast!" break the morning silence and ripple cheerfully throughout the day.  After a celebratory supper (shrimp on this Lenten Friday), we end the day of solemn joy the way we began, with our voices raised in the song and chanted prayer of Vespers.

St. Gregory the Great recounted the death of Benedict in chapter 37 of his Dialogues:
In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples.  In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy.  Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.   
The death of Saint Benedict depicted
in the gardens 
at his monastery
of Monte Cassino in Italy.
Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy.  Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end.  Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.   
That day two monks, one of them at the monastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation.  They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights.  From his monastery it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven.  and there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, "Do you know who passed this way?" "No," they replied. 
"This," he told them, "is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord's beloved, when he went to heaven."  Thus, while the brethren who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent know about it through the sign he had promised them.  His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.
Wondering what else we do in celebration?  Ask your questions...through comments here or our FB site!

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Our Healthcare Ministry...a Hundred Years Later


Saint Benedict's Rule calls us to offer our best in caring for those in need of medical care; "Before all things and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person; for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me."" (RB 36)

Recently, KELO-Land news shared part of our century-long story of health care in Eastern South Dakota and surrounding areas.  The video highlights our collaborative work with the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our continued goal to provide Catholic Healthcare to those who need our help.

A Century of Service...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sharing our Sacred Story


NCSW participants from Benedictine communities
and their student participants!
Sr. Bonita, OSB and Mount Marty College student, Rachel Shippy attended the launch event (March 7-9) for National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) at the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN.  NCSW was introduced the second week of March as a part of National Women's History Month to shine a national spotlight on the good works and good will of Catholic sisters.  NCSW recognizes past and present sisters, from the movers and shakers pressing the front lines of social change to the faithful praying in cloistered chapels.  More than 100 sisters and students from throughout the United States attended the weekend event.

Reflecting on this experience, Ms. Shippy said that she was blessed to have spent her weekend with so many amazing women.  "This experience gave me a lot of perspective and even more respect for women religious.  I was able to learn so much about the history of the impact these women have had on our current society.  I loved hearing the sisters' stories and how society's view and opinion of them and their life is definitely not as accurate as it should be."

Rachel and Sr. Bonita at the NCSW conference.
Sr. Bonita shared that "this conference is a watershed event for the Catholic sisters of the United States.  Each of the activities was rich with accurate and stimulating information.  Having so many young women present was exciting and encouraging.  St. Catherine's University is to be commended for their vision.  It was exciting to be a part of the launch activity initiating an annual event recognizing sisters and their stories."

All the conference sister and student participants.

Friday, March 14, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ our Star-Bright Diamond!

Greetings from a 80-year Jubilarian,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

 Sister Virginia is the 3rd of 13 children of her parents, who supported her call to religious life. She attended St. Mary’s grade school where she was influenced by the Benedictine Sisters and monks. She entered Sacred Heart Monastery September 2, 1929 at the age of 15. After graduating from Mount Marty High School in 1932 she was invested as a novice. She made first profession on August 16, 1933 and final profession on June 26, 1939.

After a year of teaching and loving 53 first graders, S. Virginia was called into the field of nursing. She graduated from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in 1937. She was a nurse from 1937-1978, she then worked in hospital administration in South Dakota, receiving a Credential in Health Care Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1972.  She received a degree from Mount Marty College and became certified in Pastoral Care in 1979. She served in Pastoral Care ministry from 1979 Colorado until her retirement to the monastery in 2001.

 Reflecting on her jubilee, S. Virginia says, “God’s blessings have truly overwhelmed me these 80 years for which I am deeply grateful. Time has passed quickly amidst joys, sorrows, complexities but always accompanied by an awareness of God’s abiding peace, grace and assuring love. I am most appreciative that God called me to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton to be a member of this Benedictine community.”

Blessings...and thank you for joining us for this week of jubilee stories,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ A Sparkling Diamond

Greetings from a 70-year Jubilarian,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

Sister Corinne was born October 1, 1924, the oldest of twelve children in South Dakota. She
attended Saints Peter and Paul parochial school, and was greatly influenced by sisters who taught her. She spent two years at home helping her parents on the farm after graduating from the eighth grade. She entered Sacred Heart Monastery in 1940 and went to Mount Marty High School for two years before becoming a novice and received the name Corinne. She made first profession on June 24, 1943 and final profession on June 24, 1946. She completed her GED in 1969.

Sr. Corinne ministered for twenty-six years to the Native American people in South Dakota. Her years at the mission were special to her because of the home-like atmosphere there. She always had a heart for the Native American people. She also worked with the boarders at St. Mary’s School and later, she taught religion and worked in the school library in Nebraska. She also worked throughout South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. After receiving pastoral care training in Mitchell, South Dakota, she did hospital and nursing home visitation until her retirement. This work was a great joy to her as she is a “people person” and was able to serve and connect to people in her “home territory”. Now retired in St. Joseph Care Center at Sacred Heart Monastery, Sr. Corinne still enjoys friendly banter and visits from family and friends

 Blessings...and join us tomorrow for our star-bright diamond~

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ Another Shining Diamond

Greetings from a 70-year Jubilarian,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

Sister Grace grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska, the sixteenth of seventeen children. She attended public, but looked forward to the Sisters coming for 2 weeks of religious education in the summer. Their kindness and happiness planted the seeds of a vocation in Grace. At the age of 14, she packed her bags to go to Milwaukee with her two Franciscan cousins, but after visiting with Sr. Seraphine and her pastor, she decided to try Yankton. She attended high school at Mount Marty Academy as an Aspirant and Postulant, and, after her novitiate, made First Monastic Profession in 1943. Among her memories is the day that she was happy to be assigned to work in the “candy” kitchen, only to find out it was the “canning” kitchen.

 S. Grace taught primary grades for 33 years. She ministered in the Catholic schools in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Her Bachelor of Arts degree was finally earned in 1963 after going to summer school for many years in between teaching assignments. After leaving teaching due to health issues, Sr. Grace embarked on another 30 plus year ministry at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital.

Now retired at the monastery, she is busy keeping track of her large family with over hundreds of grand nieces and nephews, and even more ”greats” and “great-grands”. She looks back with gratitude that God called her to this Benedictine way of life and for persevering in it. “I am especially grateful for the many opportunities I have for attending the Eucharist, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and recreating with my sisters.”

Blessings...and come back tomorrow for another sparkling diamond!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ One Diamond of a Story!

Greetings from a 60-year Jubilarian,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

One of eleven children, S. Delores was born and raised in rural Nebraska, where she attended “country school” for 8 years. Her mother wanted to give her the opportunity for Catholic education, so she and a sister boarded at Holy Trinity High School. There she met the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery. When her sister graduated from high school, her principal, S. Beata, invited Delores to join the monastery and finish high school at Mount Marty Academy. With her parents’ approval, Delores finished high school as a postulant, did her novitiate and made first profession in 1953 and final profession on June 29th, 1958.

After a year of college, she began her teaching career in North Dakota, with 50 first graders. One of her humorous memories was when a little guy climbed up the slide, and then was too scared to come down. So S. Delores, in full habit, had to go up the ladder and slide down with the little guy on her lap. She went on to teach for a total of 32 years in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Following these years of teaching, she worked in food service and housekeeping in nursing facilities in Lincoln.

Since 2004 S. Delores has been a sacristan back at Sacred Heart Monastery. Between those duties she enjoys keeping in touch with family and friends on Facebook and e-mail. Looking back with satisfaction on these years, S. Delores says that she has learned much from living with my Benedictine Community. “Someone is always there for me.”

Blessings...and come back tomorrow for another shining Diamond!

Monday, March 10, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ Another Golden Story

Greetings from another Golden celebrant,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

Born in Nebraska Sister Marlene was the fifth of six children and grew up on a farm where the faith of her parents planted the seeds of a vocation to religious life in both her and her brother Eugene, now Fr. Allan of Conception Abbey in Missouri.
She graduated from Genoa High School in 1960.

During her freshmen year at Mount Marty College, she was attracted by the prayer of the Sisters, especially the daily Mass, and made the decision to enter Sacred Heart Monastery. She made first profession in 1963. Continuing her education at Mount Marty, she received her B. A. in Elementary Education in 1965, and made perpetual monastic profession in 1968. She taught in elementary and junior high classrooms in NE and SD.

 After teaching 18 years she began working in computer technology, serving Mount Marty College, Madonna Rehabilitation Center, and the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD. More recently from year 2002 to 2011 S. Marlene worked as a Nurse Aide and in Pastoral Care. Presently she is working as a companion to the elderly for the agency Joy in the Journey in Omaha.

As S. Marlene reflects on her experience of Jubilee, she recalls that “St. Benedict described his Rule as ‘a rule for beginners’. Even religious who have been following the Rule for decades find new life and challenge in it. People have been living this little rule for centuries. I am grateful to be part of this 1500 year tradition of ‘the Rule for beginners’ and that I am celebrating these 50 years with my sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota.”

Blessings...join us tomorrow for one Diamond of a Story!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ A Golden Story

Greetings from one of our Golden celebrants,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

Sister Michaeleen in Colorado. “My parents were hard-working people who loved me greatly,” she says.“Though not well-educated in a formal way, they loved learning and encouraged me to explore my many and varied interests. When I told my parents that I wanted to be a nun, they gave me their full blessing, even though that meant that they would never be grandparents.”

Feeling called to the Benedictine way of life, hospital ministry drew her to Sacred Heart in Yankton, where Sr. Michaeleen made First Profession in 1963 and Perpetual Monastic Profession in 1969. She received her B.S. in
Med Tech in 1966 from Mount Marty College and a Master’s in 1973. She enjoyed work as a Med Tech in hospitals in Parkston, Yankton and Canon City, CO and teaching at Mount Marty College. In 1981, she began study in psychology culminating in a  in 1990, and was licensed as a psychologist in 1991. She took a position at Benedictine Family Services from 1989 – 1991 and then spent 14 years in various psychological services. A hearing loss forced her to leave the field of psychology. In subsequent years, Sr. Michaeleen has have been working in Information Technology at the monastery.

Her hobbies include “birding” and photography as she finds the presence of  God in nature. Reflecting on her Golden Jubilee, she say, “As I approach my 50th  year of vowed life, I am filled with profound gratitude that, first of all, God led me to Sacred Heart Monastery, filled with living legends of holiness, humor, and happiness; and then graced my life with so many other good people who have contributed to the rich tapestry of my life.”

Blessings...and come back tomorrow for another Golden Story!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

National Catholic Sisters Week ~ Silver Stories

Greetings from our sisters celebrating 25-years of profession,

Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the story of one of our Jubilarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life!

Sister Denette grew up in Nebraska, playing in the
woods outside her family's house, exploring the hills, and herding cattle, she dreamed and wondered about God. Her parents taught her to pray various prayers, especially the rosary.  Music was a big part of her school days, accompanying various musical groups and the annual high school musicals.

She attended Mount Marty College and graduated with a BA degree in accounting and business administration. Later she obtained an MBA from the University of South Dakota.  From 1982 - 1986, she worked as an auditor for the US Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, traveling extensively throughout the mid-west as part of her work. During this time she made annual retreats at the Monastery and felt called to enter Sacred Heart Monastery in 1986. She made her first monastic profession in 1988 and final monastic profession in 1991.

Sr. Denette continues to use her talents and training as accountant in the Monastery Business Office and as an accompanist at liturgies. She has also served as board member for various health care sponsored facilities, for the United Way and is a member of the Residents Encounter Christ (REC) Renewal Team for those who are imprisoned.  As a Benedictine, community, prayer and work are very important to Sr. Denette. “Within community I celebrate life and the sisters call me to growth and to become more. Through Liturgy of the Hours and my own lectio my relationship with God and others deepens. In my ministry, I see the face of God.”

Born in Illinois, Sister Lynn was an only child but had many cousins and friends. After graduating Catholic high school in Chicago, she studied forestry at Michigan Tech University in and then Range management at the University of Wyoming. S. Lynn worked as an agricultural researcher for the Kansas Rural Center and later served as a volunteer in Kansas City, at both the Catholic Worker House and running a Community Garden Project for a parish neighborhood center serving the poor of inner Kansas City. Serving the poor and stewarding God’s creation have always been important to her.

S. Lynn entered Mother of God Monastery and made first monastic profession in 1988 and perpetual monastic profession in 1992. She took care of the monastery grounds and assisted in the business office. After receiving a Master’s degree in library science in 1993, she worked as librarian at the Harmony Hill Library and area public libraries.

In 2010 she returned to Watertown to serve as the monastery archivist, and
in 2011 moved to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD to discern a transfer to that community. In Yankton she volunteered in Mount Marty College library, worked at Yankton Community Library, and taught a Wisdom of Benedict class at MMC. Currently she ministers at the monastery by driving for the care center, and working in the Monastery Library. Commenting on community living at this time of jubilee, she says, “I treasure and need our times of prayer and the common life as much as I need breathing and eating. It has helped me become a whole person.”

Blessings...and come back tomorrow for a "Golden Story"!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Coming Soon...National Catholic Sisters Week

The first annual "National Catholic Sisters Week" begins this Saturday!  If you're wondering how this all began, follow this link to St. Catherine's University for the article.  However, we can tell you it all began with a graduate research paper, a size 9 shoe box filled with hundreds of cards indexing sisters who had made a contribution to academia, healthcare, and many other professions...

Consider one of the many ways you can help celebrate the Religious Sisters in your life.

Considerations for Campus Ministers:
o   Host a coffee hour meet-and-greet for Catholic sisters and students.
o   Offer a prayer service for vocations.
o   Have a trivia contest or a scavenger hunt related to Catholic sisters.
o   Hold a film screening – either a documentary or a popular film about sisters
(or with sisters in it) and hold a discussion afterwards.
o   Interview a sister on your campus’ radio show, television station or student newspaper.
o   Invite a Catholic sister to speak about her vocation at the end of Mass.
o   Hand over your Twitter account to a sister for a day – or enlist 7 sisters, one each day. 
o   Launch a photo contest inviting students to capture images of women religious. Invite members of your community to vote on their favorite online.
o   Coordinate a tour or volunteer activity at a sister’s ministry.
o   Publish a notice about National Catholic Sisters Week in your newsletter.
o   Post a picture and a paragraph about a canonized sister on Facebook each day of the week.

o   Publish an announcement of the week in your bulletin or newsletter.
o   Begin an intercession for vocations to religious life and continuing praying for the lives and works of current sisters.
o   Create a display of sisters to showcase during the month of March.
o   Invite sisters to attend various parish meetings and groups.
o   Coordinate a volunteer activity at a sister’s ministry.
o   Ask sisters to share their stories with members of your group
(parishioners, students, young adults, etc.). 
o   Highlight sisters on your website.
o   Share first-person stories of admirable sisters through social media.
o   Choose a saint who was a sister to be your patron for the month of March – study her and pray for her intercession.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chapter 49: The Observance of Lent

Greetings and Happy Lent,

Saint Benedict's Rule has one short chapter sharing his teachings and recommendations on how to live out the season of Lent. The emphasis is a call for balance between the communal offerings of the monks and the individual offerings each might add to his conversion of heart.
The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent. Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times. This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit. In other words, let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.
Everyone should, however, make it known to the abbot what he intends to do, since it ought to be done with his prayer and approval. Whatever is undertaken without permission of the spiritual father will be reckoned as presumption and vainglory, not deserving a reward. Therefore, everything must be done with the abbot's approval. (Rule of Benedict 49)
The goal of communal practices in our monastery is encourage "compunction of heart" and reflection, support "self-denial", and continual conversion so as to "look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing".  The practices are simple:  outside of prayer, silence is kept in the hallways and refectory until 8:00 AM;  Wednesday nights we have a simple supper of soup and bread without the usual homemade pie; and we also continue the Church's recommendations such as simple liturgies and Fridays abstaining from meat.

It all begins today with our Ash Wednesday celebration of the Eucharist with our sisters, the students from Mount Marty College, and other faithful folk from the area. Later this evening, we will also place our Lenten resolutions in a basket before the altar in the Peace Chapel before Vespers. The prioress will bless these resolutions and they will remain by the altar all throughout Lent as a continuous offering of our conversion of heart.