Thursday, February 26, 2015

Join us in prayer...


We've picked up on several Catholic websites calling for a day of prayer for an end to Christian persecution. We invite you to join us this Sunday, March 1st from 2:00~4:00 P.M. in Eucharistic Adoration.  We join our hearts and prayers: "For the end of violence against Christians and against all people, that peace may come by the power of our most fervent prayer and God's intercession. Amen."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Open House!

We warmly invite you to our open house...

Pope Francis has declared this year the Year of Consecrated Life! We invite to an Open House celebrating our Benedictine life on March 15th beginning at 2 p.m. and closing with Vespers in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel at 4 p.m.

We will be offering tours of our Chapel and dining room, as well as the historic Marty House, the home of Dakota Territory's first Bishop. After a tour, our sisters welcome you to join us in the monastery Chapter Room for monastery-made cookies, visiting with the sisters, and a power point telling the story of our history.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

St. Benedict's Lenten Reminder


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.

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.

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

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

Our Lenten resolutions and promises...
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. 

Sister Penny, Prioress, reads from Vita Consecrata
during supper. The Sister Reader rings the little
bell to quiet the room before she begins.
After pausing to reflect at the end of her portion,
she rings the bell to indicate the sisters may
visit at their tables.
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.

Ash Wednesday also begins our monastic Lenten traditions of sacrifice and almsgiving. As a community, we join the Universal Church in continuing our Friday sacrifice and abstinence from meat; however, we add an additional simple supper of soup and bread on Wednesdays. We also refrain from our Sister Baker's fresh-made pies throughout the Lenten season. 

Our community also shares in the Benedictine tradition of table reading during our weekday suppers. This Lent we will share in listening to Pope John Paul II's exhortation Vita Consecrata to commemorate this Year for Consecrated Life. Our Benedictine family will join in almsgiving; the Sunday donations to the monastery and our sisters personal offerings, reserved from their personal budgets, will be offered to AIM, Alliance for International Monasticism.

Be assured of our prayers for you throughout this sacred Season of Lent. If you would like to share your intentions with us, follow this link to our homepage for prayer requests.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Feast Before the Fast!


Today we celebrate with laughter and joy, a sweet treat with coffee, and a community party of cards and camaraderie! The celebration of Mardi Gras in our Benedictine family has ranged from costumes and skits to card games and bingo; throughout it all, has been the joy of the exuberant gathering before the solemnity of our Lent.

 This year, the sisters are also remembering the needs of others in our Mardi Gras. They are gathering personal care items (tooth brushes and paste, etc.) to donate to the student nurses of Mount Marty College before they travel to the South Dakota Rosebud Native American Reservation for their annual missionary service.

A prayer of Mardi Gras joy in preparing for Lent...

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.
Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.

We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.

Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.

As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for
generous service to others.

We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord.
From: Creighton University


Monday, February 9, 2015

Celebrating the Feast of Saint Scholastica

Happy Feast Day!

Tomorrow, the Church honors Saint Scholastica with a day of Memorial and the title Virgin; Benedictine's honor her life of great love and prayer.  All we know of her was shared by Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogues.  The story of her great love for her brother and her God is one of the first we learn as new members in Benedictine life...and the next several years in the monastery seeking to follow that storied model of faithful love and prayer.  Symbols of her faithful love and patronage are seen throughout the the monastery as we prepare to celebrate.

Saint Scholastica is a patroness for protection from storm (or for those in need of rain) and her icons often include the lightning and rain, the result of her deep prayer.  Her patronage is also called upon by Benedictine abbesses and prioress today with the symbols of the Rule and Crosier.  Finally, Scholastica is also the patroness of all Benedictine sisters and nuns; the dove, a reminder of her souls flight into heaven, is a reminder of our charism and call to "seek God in everyone and everything, everyday of our lives."

We invite you to join us in celebrating Saint Scholastica's feast day.
The monastery will be praying the Divine Office in Bishop Marty Chapel:
First Vespers ~ Monday, February 9th ~ 5:15 PM
Lauds followed by the Celebration of the Eucharist ~ Tuesday, February 10th ~ 6:30AM
Second Vespers ~ Tuesday, February 10th ~ 5:15PM
If you cannot join us for the feast, you can join in the festive prayer with a prayerful recitation of Psalms 1610084, or 145 and a reflective reading of Saint Gregory the Great's Dialogues telling about Saint Scholastica.

"Love is a fire no waters avail to quench, no floods to drown it; those who love will give up all that they have in the world, and think nothing of their loss."
(Song of Songs 8:7)" ~ Vespers Antiphon

Book II of the Dialogues: The Life of Saint Benedict: Chapter 33
GREGORY: Who is there, Peter, in this world, that is in greater favor with God than St. Paul? Three times he petitioned our Lord to be delivered from the thorn of the flesh, and yet he did not obtain his petition. Speaking of that, I must tell you how there was one thing which the venerable father Benedict would have liked to do, but he could not.  His sister, named Scholastica, was dedicated from her infancy to our Lord. Once a year she came to visit her brother. The man of God went to her not far from the gate of his monastery, at a place that belonged to the Abbey. It was there he would entertain her. Once upon a time she came to visit according to her custom, and her venerable brother with his monks went there to meet her.

They spent the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk, and when it was almost night, they dined together. As they were yet sitting at the table, talking of devout matters, it began to get dark. The holy Nun, his sister, entreated him to stay there all night that they might spend it in discoursing of the joys of heaven. By no persuasion, however, would he agree to that, saying that he might not by any means stay all night outside of his Abbey.At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, hearing this denial of her brother, joined her hands together, laid them on the table, bowed her head on her hands, and prayed to almighty God.

Lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their heads out of doors. The holy Nun, having rested her head on her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears on the table, that she transformed the clear air to a watery sky.

After the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed; her prayer and the rain so met together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder began.  So it was that in one and the very same instant that she lifted up her head, she brought down the rain.

The man of God, seeing that he could not, in the midst of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return to his Abbey, began to be heavy and to complain to his sister, saying: "God forgive you, what have you done?" She answered him, "I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me; I have desired it of our good Lord, and he has granted my petition. Therefore if you can now depart, in God's name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone." 

But the good father, not being able to leave, tarried there against his will where before he would not have stayed willingly. By that means, they watched all night and with spiritual and heavenly talk mutually comforted one another. 

Therefore, by this we see, as I said before, that he would have had one thing, but he could not effect it.  For if we know the venerable man's mind, there is no question but that he would have had the same fair weather to have continued as it was when he left his monastery.  He found, however, that a miracle prevented his desire. A miracle that, by the power of almighty God, a woman's prayers had wrought. Is it not a thing to be marveled at, that a woman, who for a long time had not seen her brother, might do more in that instance than he could? She realized, according to the saying of St. John, "God is charity" [1 John 4:8]. Therefore, as is right, she who loved more, did more.

GREGORY: The next day the venerable woman returned to her monastery, and the man of God to his abbey. Three days later, standing in his cell, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he beheld the soul of his sister (which was departed from her body) ascend into heaven in the likeness of a dove.

Rejoicing much to see her great glory, with hymns and praise he gave thanks to almighty God, and imparted the news of her death to his monks.  He sent them presently to bring her corpse to his Abbey, to have it buried in that grave which he had provided for himself. By this means it fell out that, as their souls were always one in God while they lived, so their bodies continued together after their deaths.

Let us pray:  
Saint Schoalstica, you who have followed the example of your older brother Benedict
in serving Jesus Christ with love and silent prayer, 
grant me the desire to know and love more and more
God who created and redeemed me.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Postulant Playfulness

Postulant Terry (left) and Sister Kathy (right)
falling into the fluffy snow.

Postulant Terry enjoyed her first major South Dakota snowstorm! Sunday's eight inches of powdery, white snow offered her the perfect opportunity to invite Sister Kathy into some winter fun...Snow Angels! They were watched from above by our elders in the care center with great joy.

The finished Sister Snow Angels!
The Rule of Benedict calls us to a good zeal, a joy-filled celebration of our sisterhood. Celebrating the snowfall with a laughter, snow angels, and cocoa encourages this good zeal of our Benedictine life.

How do you encourage this good zeal of love of God and family in your life?

Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting. This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice with the most fervent love.

Thus they should anticipate one another in honor; most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or character; vie in paying obedience one to another -- no one following what she considers useful for herself, but rather what benefits another; tender the charity of sisterhood chastely; fear God in love; love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity; prefer nothing whatever to Christ. And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

(Rule of Benedict 72)


Monday, February 2, 2015

Feast of the Presentation homily: Pope Francis opens the Year for Consecrated Life

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
2 February 2015
Before our eyes we can picture Mother Mary as she walks, carrying the Baby Jesus in her arms.  She brings him to the Temple; she presents him to the people; she brings him to meet his people.
The arms of Mother Mary are like the “ladder” on which the Son of God comes down to us, the ladder of God’s condescension.  This is what we heard in the first reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews: Christ became “like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb 2:17).  This is the twofold path taken by Jesus: he descended, he became like us, in order then to ascend with us to the Father, making us like himself.
In our heart we can contemplate this double movement by imagining the Gospel scene of Mary who enters the Temple holding the Child in her arms.  The Mother walks, yet it is the Child who goes before her.  She carries him, yet he is leading her along the path of the God who comes to us so that we might go to him.
Jesus walked the same path as we do, and showed us a new way, the “new and living way” (cf. Heb 10:20) which is himself. For us too, as consecrated men and women, he opened a path
Fully five times the Gospel speaks to us of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the “law of the Lord” (cf. Lk 2:22-24,27,39).  Jesus came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. This way, he tells us, was his “food” (cf. Jn 4:34). In the same way, all those who follow Jesus must set out on the path of obedience, imitating as it were the Lord’s “condescension” by humbling themselves and making their own the will of the Father, even to self-emptying and abasement (cf. Phil 2:7-8). For a religious person, to progress is to lower oneself in service. A path like that of Jesus, who “did not count equality with God something to be grasped.”: to lower oneself, making oneself a servant, in order to serve.
This path, then, takes the form of the rule, marked by the charism of the founder.  For all of us, the essential rule remains the Gospel, this abasement of Christ, yet the Holy Spirit, in his infinite creativity, also gives it expression in the various rules of the consecrated life, though all of these are born of that sequela Christi, from this path of self-abasement in service.
Through this “law” consecrated persons are able to attain wisdom, which is not an abstract attitude, but a work and a gift of the Holy Spirit, the sign and proof of which is joy. Yes, the mirth of the religious is a consequence of this journey of abasement with Jesus: and when we are sad, it would do us well to ask how we are living this kenotic dimension.
In the account of Jesus’ Presentation, wisdom is represented by two elderly persons, Simeon and Anna: persons docile to the Holy Spirit (He is named 4 times), led by him, inspired by him.  The Lord granted them wisdom as the fruit of a long journey along the path of obedience to his law, an obedience which likewise humbles and abases – even as it also guards and guarantees hope – and now they are creative, for they are filled with the Holy Spirit.  They even enact a kind of liturgy around the Child as he comes to the Temple.  Simeon praises the Lord and Anna “proclaims” salvation (cf. Lk2:28-32,38).  As with Mary, the elderly man holds the Child, but in fact it is the Child who guides the elderly man. The liturgy of First Vespers of today’s feast puts this clearly and concisely: “senex puerum portabat, puer autem senem regebat”.  Mary, the young mother, and Simeon, the kindly old man, hold the Child in their arms, yet it is the Child himself who guides both of them.
It is curious: here it is not young people who are creative: the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience.  And the Lord turns obedience into wisdom by the working of his Holy Spirit.  At times God can grant the gift of wisdom to a young person, but always as the fruit of obedience and docility to the Spirit. This obedience and docility is not something theoretical; it too is subject to the economy of the incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a specific rule, docility and obedience to one’s superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is always docility and obedience in the concrete.
In persevering along along the path of obedience, personal and communal wisdom matures, and thus it also becomes possible to adapt rules to the times.  For true “aggiornamento” is the fruit of wisdom forged in docility and obedience.
The strengthening and renewal of consecrated life are the result of great love for the rule, and also the ability to look to and heed the elders of one’s congregation.  In this way, the “deposit”, the charism of each religious family, is preserved by obedience and by wisdom, working together. And, along this journey, we are preserved from living our consecration lightly and in a disincarnate manner, as though it were a Gnosis, which would reduce itself to a “caricature” of the religious life, in which is realized a sequela – a following – that is without sacrifice, a prayer that is without encounter, a fraternal life that is without communion, an obedience without trust, a charity without transcendence.
Today we too, like Mary and Simeon, want to take Jesus into our arms, to bring him to his people. Surely we will be able to do so if we enter into the mystery in which Jesus himself is our guide.  Let us bring others to Jesus, but let us also allow ourselves to be led by him.  This is what we should be: guides who themselves are guided.
May the Lord, through the intercession of Mary our Mother, Saint Joseph and Saints Simeon and Anna, grant to all of us what we sought in today’s opening prayer: to “be presented [to him] fully renewed in spirit”.  Amen.
(from Vatican Radio)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Celebration of Light

Sister's calligraphy and art illustrating Simeon's
prayer upon meeting Christ in the temple.

Our candles arranged on the Sunday feast of
Candlemas during 2014.
Today, we commemorate the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple with the feast of Candlemas. It is a celebration of Jesus as the light of the world; a celebration that we too carry that light within us. In this celebration of light we bless the waxy reminders of the light of Christ. The altar was surrounded by the variety of candles that we use during our prayer in the Chapel and in our living groups.

Opening Prayer:
Forty days ago we celebrated the joyful feast of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we recall the holy day on which he was presented in the temple, fulfilling the law of Moses and at the same time going to meet his faithful people. Led by the Spirit, Simeon and Anna came to the temple, recognized Christ as their Lord, and proclaimed him with joy. United by the Spirit, may we who are gathered in this house of God welcome Christ the Lord. There we shall recognize him in the breaking of the bread, until he comes again in glory.

The candles are lit ....

Blessing of the Candles:
God, our Father, source of eternal light. Today, you revealed to Simeon and Anna your Light of revelation to the nations. Bless these candles and make the holy. (Sprinkle Candles) May we who use them to praise your glory, walk in the path of goodness and come to the light that shines for ever. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we ask this through Christ, our Lord.
~ Amen

The Prioress blesses these candles during our morning prayer and they remain in the Chapel through evening prayer. After our Vespers, a sister from each of the living groups carries the blessed candle to the group room to be used in our noon and compline prayers. It is just one of the many little liturgies that connects us to the greater Church and to each other. Knowing that even when we pray the shorter hours of noon and night, the blessing of the Prioress and the gathered prayer of the community continues to hold us all together. And we continue to hold you in our prayer.

The Feast of the Presentation is also a day of celebrating our Consecrated Life. Just as Christ was consecrated to the service of God in the temple, we too are consecrated to the service of God's people and the needs of the Church. Last year, our Holy Father's message reminded us to view our religious life as an opportunity for others to encounter Christ. "In the light of this Gospel scene, let us look at consecrated life as an encounter with Christ: it is he who comes to us, led by Mary and Joseph, and we go towards him guided by the Holy Spirit. He is at the center. He moves everything, he draws us to the Temple, to the Church, where we can meet him, recognize him, welcome him, embrace him" (Pope Francis). This year the USCCB has moved our national day of celebration to the weekend of February 7-8.