Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Commentary for the 1st Week of Advent by Sr. Carol Falkner

Stay awake! Be alert! These words bring us to attention as we begin this Advent season. Benedict would say, “Be sober and alert!” The reason we are being called to attention is because this holy season matters to us who are seeking God. We are to take time to watch and wait for something important is happening - Jesus has come, is coming and will come again. Advent brings new energy, new grace for encountering Christ if we open ourselves to it and pay attention.

During Advent we have our sights set on Christ’s return at the end of time. Christ has fulfilled his mission and is now, like the “lord of the house,” traveling aboard. We have been put in charge. We are watching and waiting for the Master’s return. How are we to be during our watch? We are not to be watching for Christ, but rather to watch Christ. From his example we learn how to respond to others -- how to feed the poor, heal the sick, strengthen another’s faith. Our work is futile if it only serves our purposes, but it is fruitful when we are able to reach out to others and bring justice and peace to our world. Through such actions we draw nearer to Christ and nearer to one another.

Watch - for you do not know when the Lord of the house will return. He may come in the morning, at noon or in the night. But if we align our will with the will of God it will make no difference. We will not be caught sleeping, but awake and ready. Let us then welcome this season of Advent. Let us ask Jesus to open our eyes so we can realize how close he is to us and we to him. Let us take time to pray more fervently so as to prepare our hearts for His coming once again.

Stay awake! Be alert! By all means! Amen! So be it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"No meal should be begun without prayer, and before leaving the table thanks should be returned to the Creator." (St. Jerome)

Today we give God thanks for the many blessings God has given us. Make a list of everything you want to give God thanks for. Post it where you will see it everyday. Continue to say thank you for all God's gifts.

What do I find myself saying thanks be to God? My list of thanks include:

  • Relationship with God

  • Benedictine Vocation and Community

  • Etienne Family

  • Friends

  • Students

  • Nature: snowy days, sandy beaches, golf courses, forest, rain, all seasons

  • Good Health

  • Affiliate Heather

  • Food

  • Shelter

  • Clothing

  • Having a teaching job

  • Sense of humor

  • Laughter in my life

  • Lectio Divina

  • Divine Office

  • Catholic/Sacramental life

  • People who desire to "Climb the Mountain" with me

  • Perseverance

  • Joy

  • Peace

Give God the glory and all will be well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

"May God grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you."
(Sirach 50:23)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sr. Carol Falkner's Favorite Quote from the Rule of St. Benedict

"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else." (RB 4:20)

Christ challenged us to love one another. St. Benedict knew that relationships built on love would also bear the marks of our Christian life. This quote reminds me that as a person who professes to follow Christ my words and actions must be different from the world's way and be ones of patience, kindness, respect and love for others. It makes no difference who I encounter in a day, that person deserves my respect and love. If, for some reason, I am not treated with respect in return I am still responsible for my behavior. I must choose to be loving, I must share the love of Christ with that person. I pray that I might always remember that such love comes before all else.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Commentary for the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King by Sr. Renee Wargel, OSB

Today's gospel is the scene of the Last Judgmehnt - The Vision of our eschatological future. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will sit upon His glorious throne in glory with all the angels with Him. All the nations will be assembled before Him.

Like a shepherd, Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats...the faithful on His right and the unfaithful on His left. Jesus will make decisions both sobering and surprising. It is sobering to hear the Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats because one gets the sense that there is no way of escaping it. It is surprising because people are judged on the way they meet the very basic needs of others.

The throng of people gathered at this event will be judged according to the way they treated the disciples of Jesus...Jesus' Apostles were chosen with Jesus' authority. To reject the Apostle is to reject the One who sent the Apostle.

The guilt of the people being judged in this passage is not found in the wrong they have done, but in their failure to accept those who were bringing them the Gospel to them.

The righteous are invited into the Kingdom where they will enjoy eternal life. The wicked are cast into the punishment of eternal fire. The personal choices they made will decide the sentence they receive.
The Kingdom of God is an inclusive Kingdom. Criteria for membership are not based only on obedience to the commandments or on conformity to ritual obligation. Membership is based on the covenantal bonds that unity us to each other; the bonds of love and concern...bonds that reach deep into the human heart.

Concerns must be genuine. Assistance is given whenever and wherever it is needed: in ordinary acts, in giving food and drink, shelter and clothing; in spending time with someone who might be lonely or afraid; in patiently waiting for the elderly person; in thanking people for their services.

The Kingdom we establish during our lifetime...this will be the kingdom into which we will be welcomed at its end. Christ, the Good Shepherd, looks to us through the eyes of the needy, the disfigured, the refuse of the earth. They are Christ's hands reaching out for assistance.
It is Christ who tests our patience and generosity. It is through the least of God's people that we enter into the KINGDOM OF GOD!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Benedictine Oblates

Who Are Benedictine Oblates?
Oblates are Christian laypersons who promise to live Benedictine
spirituality in their chosen lifestyle, affiliated with a particular
Benedictine monastic community.

What Is Benedictine Spirituality?
Teaching found in the Rule of Saint Benedict,
written in the sixth century, is the basis
of Benedictine spirituality. The Rule, which includes many quotes from Scripture, is a guide to lead disciples of Christ to God by way of a specific path that embraces humility, obedience and silence as necessary tools for a balanced life of prayer and work. Respect for all persons and forms of life underlie a special focus on hospitality and service.

Who Is Saint Benedict?
Benedict of Nursia, Italy was born about 480 and died about 547. He founded several monastic communities, most notably at Subiaco and Monte Cassino, Italy. From there, the Rule attributed to him spread throughout the world and is still lived today.

How Does One Become An Oblate?
There are several stages to becoming an oblate. The first stage is Inquiry. This is a time of being acquainted with the monastic and oblate communities. The best way to get started is to contact the Oblate Director and find out meeting dates and times. The inquirer can request a personal meeting with the Oblate Director. The time of inquiry lasts a minimum of nine months. During this time, the inquirer attends bi-monthly meetings. The Oblate Director engages in discernment with the inquirer to determine readiness to move to the stage of Candidacy.
There is a simple ritual to mark the step of becoming an Oblate Candidate. The Candidacy is also a minimum of nine months that includes monthly meetings. There is assigned reading and reflection in preparation for sessions with other candidates and the Oblate Director. The Oblate Director engages in discernment with the candidate to determine readiness for Oblation.

What Is An Oblate Of Our Lady Of Grace Monastery Expected To Do?

+ Engage in a regular practice of prayer suitable to the oblate's chosen lifestyle
+ Continue ongoing formation in Benedictine spirituality
+ Communicate with other oblates and members of the monastic community
+ Participate in activities of the oblates and the monastic community that are
suitable to the life-style of the oblate
+ Renew commitment of oblation by submitting to the Oblate Director a written statement annually.

What Benefits Does An Oblate Receive?
The community of Our Lady of Grace Monastery provides for the oblate:
+ Hospitality, that is a standing invitation to join the monastic community at prayer and use of space for individual prayer
+ Information about Benedictine history and spirituality through use of the monastic library
+ Ongoing formation as an oblate by gathering with other oblates at the monastery
+ An annual retreat for oblates
+ A prayer partner
+ Pray and Work Days at the monastery
+ Remembrance at the Liturgy of the Hours

Who should you contact if you are interested in becoming an Oblate of St. Benedict?
Sr. Antoinette Purcell, pictured above, is the Oblate Director for Our Lady of Grace Monastery. You can reach her by calling (317) 787-3287 X 3022. You can also email Sr. Antoinette:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celebrating the Feast of St. Gertrude

We celebrate the Feast of St. Gertrude on November 16th. Sr. Kathleen Yeadon gives us a better understanding of the life of St. Gertude in this post.

Dwelling, being pruned and bearing fruit are all themes in the life of Gertrude of Helfta. Her book: The Herald of Divine Love invites us to enter into the heart of Jesus –a heart wounded by love.

God begins pruning her life in her mid 20’s. The liturgical life is the transformative source of pruning and bringing fruit from Gertrude’s life.

First her response to God:
I praise, adore, bless and thank you to the best of my ability for your wise mercy and your merciful wisdom! For you, my Creator and my Redeemer, have sought to curb my stiff-necked obstinacy under your sweet yoke with the remedy best suited to my infirmity (The Herald of Divine Love: p. 95-96).

As Gertrude attuned herself to this new awareness of God, she saw God everywhere: So you were with me in all my actions, stirring my spirit within me (97).

Although her life was flooded by God’s graces, Gertrude struggled with being present to God. May You ever find me as attentive to Yourself as You show Yourself to me. . . . a soul weighed down with the weight of the flesh, which always resists Your love (99).

Gertrude mourned her sins and faults. She found the mercy of God ever present: Even so, unworthy as I am, I found that the depths of Your love were not exhausted (100).

Gertrude’s desire to love God is evident in her prayer: Inscribe with your precious blood, most merciful Lord, your wounds on my heart, that I may read in them both you sufferings and your love (100).

God’s desire to be her all is found in God’s response to her: May all the affections of your heart be concentrated here: all pleasure, hope, joy, sorrow, fear, and the rest; may they all be fixed in my love (102).

Our Herald of Divine love shows us the fruit of a life filled with lectio as Scripture permeates every page of her writings.

Gertrude’s joy bubbles up and her gratitude to God is readily available: May my soul bless You (Ps 103: 1), Lord God my creator! May my soul bless you and, out of . . .my inmost being, let me proclaim the mercies of the overflowing love with which you enfold me, O my sweetest lover! (128)

I close with an image of dwelling with God: May I breathe my last breath in the protection of your close embrace, with your all-powerful kiss! May my soul find herself without delay there where your are, . . .indivisible, living and exulting in the full flowering of eternity, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, true God, everlasting, world without end! (99)

Gertrude of Helfta: The Hearld of Divine Love, ed. and trans. Margaret Winkworth, The classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist, 1993).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sr. Mary Cecile's Vocation Story

"Here I am, Lord, Serving Your People"

For the past twenty-nine years I have been privileged to minister as a Pastoral Associate, Associate and Director of Faith Formation for twelve years in two rural parishes - St. Maurice, Decatur County and St. Maurice, Napoleon and then for nineteen years at St. Lawrence, Lawrenceburg.

It helps me grow spiritually as I visit the sick and dying, prepare persons to enter the Catholic Church in the RCIA program, teach catechists who pass the faith to adults, teens, and children, share in Christ Renews His Parish Retreats, discuss God's Word in Scripture Studies, plan Faith Formation Programs, Reflection Days and Penance Services that create an environment for God's Spirit to work in the hearts of the people. No two days are alike! I can never predict what person's life I will share that day, what problem may need solving, what will break and need a repairman, what cross a person may be carrying, what surprise joy or happiness may come.

The 19 year old teen who entered the Ferdinand Benedictines in 1945 could never in her wildest imagination have known the ministry our surprising God had in store for her. I received my B.S. in Elementary and Music Education, MA in English from St. Louis University, MA in Religious Education from St. Meinrad School of Theology, a two year Pastoral Leadership Institute, a two year Internship in Spiritual Direction, yearly Retreats, and Hundreds of Seminars and Workshops were preparation for this ministry


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sr. Antoinette Purcell gives us a message of hope using words of wisdom from Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict

So much is happening all around us at this time. In nature we experience the leaves changing in color and raining to the ground; the fields, too, look different as they are harvested; and daylight comes later and leaves again much earlier now. Here at the monastery, we gather for Chapter this weekend to begin the discernment process for the election of a new prioress that culminates at our March Chapter meeting. In the world around us, we know that change comes as new people take public offices, and we, too, feel the pain as our country continues to struggle with efforts to bring peace to our world, our cities, and our families in the midst of a serious financial crisis. In our liturgical cycle we hear readings about the end time.

How are we to live in the midst of all this? St. Benedict offers us two lines, both of which appear in Chapter Four, The Tools for Good Works. In verse 14 he says, "Place your hope in God alone." And in verse 74, he writes, "Never lose hope in God's mercy." In just a few weeks we move into the season of Advent/Christmas, the season of hope. It is not too early to begin to reflect on the source of our hope...God alone! How wondrous that this God who loves us comes into our world as an innocent baby, taking on the form of human flesh and living like us in the person of Jesus the Christ. We know that he gave his life for us and then rose in majesty to show us that there is something to live for that is beyond what we see and know now. This is our hope. Let us be beacons of hope to those around us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sr. Patricia Dede's Vocation Story

"Dear God, lead me where you want me to go." As a high school senior in 1951, I frequently prayed this prayer as I was trying to decide if I wanted to enter religious life. God answered this prayer and led me to the Benedictine way of life and eventually to Our Lady of Grace. During my more than fifty years as a Benedictine that has continued to be my prayer. It led me through years as a teacher, hospital chaplain and administrator. It has led me to my present position as Minister to the homebound at St. Cecelia Parish in Clearwater, Florida. My duties consist of working with the homebound elderly in this very large parish. I take Holy Communion to the elderly in their homes and arrange for other volunteers to help with this privilege. I also organize a monthly Mass of Anointing and luncheon for the eighty plus elderly who attend.

A coworker and I conduct a bereavement program for those who have lost loved ones. Other duties arise as they present themselves. I know my grounding in Benedictine Spirituality; daily Mass, private prayer and scripture meditation give me the incentive and love of God's people to be happy in my ministry and continue to serve them joyfully. The prayer that became a part of me many years ago continues. "Dear God, lead me where you want me to go".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

8th Graders feel the Presence of Jesus Through Adoration

I asked my 8th grade students to write a short paragraph on what Adoration means to them.  Once again, I'm humbled by the words they shared with me.  I can understand why Jesus said, "Let the children come to me."  There are a lot of things involved in Adoration for me.  This is  both a bad thing and a good thing.  I can't sit there too long, because the incense makes me sick.  Other than that, it is the most important part of my time here on earth.  I am literally in front of God.  The silence lets me concentrate on the importance of it.  When I pray in front of the Monstrance I get a feeling of confidence that all my sins are forgiven.  There is a peace in my heart that assures me that God is with me and loves me.  I can ask God any question about what I should do with my life and it will be answered.  Maybe it won't be an immediate answer, but He will assure you that it will be answered sometime in the future.  You might ask yourself this question, "What would it be like if you were literally in front of God?" Well, when you go to Adoration you are literally in front of God. I try to keep that in head always when I go to Adoration.You might now think about it much, but when you do, you get an exciting feeling.All the things you hear about God makes you think that it won't happen on earth,but you really do kneel in front of God during Adoration. (Chris B.)

Adoration helps me come closer to God in several ways.  I like the silence because it helps me think better and make me relax.  The incense helps set the mood, but sometimes here is a big rush of it an it gives people headaches.  I don't mind going as a class, but I'd rather spread out because I kind of feel like Im' being watched by others or something, and then I can't really concentrate. I like the fact that Jesus is shown to me through the Eucharist in the Monstrance. I think it makes His presence known more.  When Jesus is in the Tabernacle I know He is there, but it just isn't the same as when He's presented to us.  Adoration strengthens my relationship with Jesus because during the time I like to talk to Jesus about basically everything that's going on in my life.  (Megan P.)

What does Adoration mean to me? That is a very hard question to answer.  Not because it's not important but because it means so many things at once.  When I first go in the church I smell the incense, then I hear the silence, then I look and I see Jesus in the Monstrance. As soon as I see the Eucharist it dawns on me that nothing else really matters, except for my relationship with Jesus.  Adoration means getting closer to Jesus. Everybody at one point, especially me, has put other things before God. I think Adoration is God's way of saying, "Follow Me, and everything will be alright. I will help you through the toughest of times." (Hannah H.)

What does Adoration mean to me? My answer to this question is REVERENCE. Reverence is typically the basis of all worship, but in a very special way during Adoration. Reverence to me is a faithful word for respect. I add silence to the divine equation. The actual definition of Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. I try to act upon all these thoughts and words. Adoration is returning the favor He did for me a long time ago. (Joshua S.)

When I am in Adoration I usually pray a lot and think of the sins that I have committed that day. I also think of how I can improve by not doing the same sins again. In Adoration I don't feel any closer to God than what I would when I am in any other place praying. I do like how everyone is quiet in Adoration.  I don't like the smell of incense. It makes my stomach hurt. Overall, I think that Adoration is a time to pray and respect God. (Allie M.)

I think Adoration is a time to pray only to God. I put all thoughts of everything else out of the way to make me think only of God. It makes me feel like I am closer to God. I feel more holy during Adoration than any other time. I wish I could stay longer for Adoration during school, but I understand I have classes I have to go to. Adoration makes me feel better than ever. I think of God when I pray the Rosary during Adoration. I feel God's blessings, graces and fruits being poured into me during Adoration. I feel the Holy Spirit is being put into my soul.  I feel like Jesus is watching at that very moment. (Brandon S.)

Adoration leads us closer to God. It is a special time when we look up at Jesus and I say I am sorry for my sins. I reflect on how I want to be with Jesus.  Jesus wants us to be with him forever especially in eternity. Jesus wants me to stay with him. (Joseph F.)

Adoration makes me feel so close to God that if I reach my hand out I might touch Him. It is as close to God as I can get without being dead. I can just feel that the Body of Christ is in front of me and that He is here right now. It is also a very peaceful time. I think it is peaceful because the Holy Spirit protects it from any chaos. When I am in the church during Adoration, I feel as if there could be no evil in the world. (Frederick D.)

Adoration helps my friendship with Jesus because I spend time with Jesus in a special way. I pray to God and Jesus when I go to Adoration. Jesus loves and appreciates me when I go to Adoration by my own free will...not be being forced or because I'll get a reward when I am done. (Bobby M.)

Adoration is a form of praise given only to God. When I go to Adoration I smell the incense. People are praying. Love and praise is all I need to give to Jesus and he will give the same to me. (Tyler M.)

Adoration is important because it makes my relationship with God stronger.  Adoration makes it stronger by putting me in a prayerful mood. When I am in prayerful I feel closer to God. I think everybody should go to Adoration because we need to praise God for all God has done for us. Adoration helps strengthen our relationship with God. I want to be as close to God as I can be. I never want to grow far away from God so I will continue to go toAdoration. (James P.)

Adoration is my time with time to talk to Him and tell Him some of the things on my mind. I thank Him for giving me the life I have, and the people in it. After I talk to Jesus, I pray a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Sometimes I don't like going to Adoration because the incense makes me light-headed. I usually go because I don't let that stop me from spending timewith Jesus. I think Adoration is wonderful. I go for about ten minutes. I can really feel the presence of Jesus. I feel closer to Him! (Maressa H.)

To me, Adoration gives me time to love only God. When I look at the Monstrance I only think of God. The presence of Jesus in the Monstrance is the most important thing in the church at that time. When I go to Adoration it helps me have a better relationship with God. I talk to God one on one and I pray to Him. Silence is really important to me when I go. I don't like interruptions when I am talking to Jesus. The incense reminds me of the holiness of Adoration. (Shelby C.)

Adoration helps me because sometimes I don't get to go to Mass so I enjoy going to Adoration. I have so much to say to God. I also like how it is quiet during Adoration because it makes me peaceful and it is easier for me to talk to God. (Maddie L.)

In Adoration I feel so close to Jesus because He is right there! That makes me feel so great. I smell the incense and it makes me ready to talk to God. Adoration makes me feel so peaceful. I feel I can really get things off my chest. (Pete P.)

Adoration is very important to me. For me Adoration is the time that I personally feel close to God and Jesus. In Adoration, the priest takes the Eucharist and puts it in the Monstrance. There is incense burning which helps me concentrate. I like to pray the Rosary while I'm in Adoration. I like the Rosary a lot and it helps me to pray and focus.  Adoration means a lot to me because I feel that I am very close and right next to Jesus. Since it is the highest form of praise I feel it is very important to do it well. It is also very silent in church during Adoration. There are no distractions so it is a lot easier to focus on Jesus.This is why I like Adoration. (John T.)

I think that God is the only person in the whole world we should be giving Adoration to because He is the one who gave us life. He created us and we need to give him the highest praise. God is always there for me in good times and in bad times. You may not know this but if you hate the world God will still watch over you trying to help you come and grow closer to Him in your faith. (Kyle K.)

Adoration is a sacred form of praise that brings me closer to God. The reason it brings me closer to God is because the church is so silent. I can picture myself with Jesus. I can picture this because Jesus is actually there with me during Adoration. I think everyone should go to Adoration. (Tommy B.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jesus' November Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for November. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times

Dear apostles, are you aware of My presence? Do you understand how I remain with you in each moment? Sometimes you suffer and in your suffering you feel abandoned. This is merely a feeling that I allow for you so that you can share even that part of My Passion with Me. I could never abandon you and I do not abandon you. I remain with you, consoling you and guiding you. If you are suffering, My friend, you can be sure that I am aware of your suffering and that I am providing you with special graces to cope with your cross. In the same way that I remain with each beloved apostle, I remain with the whole world. I, Jesus, love every person ever created by the Father. I seek goodness and peace for every man and woman on earth. I am looking out for the heavenly interests of all of God's children. You, My dear ones, possess an earthly view that is limited. I understand that your view is limited because I understand everything about you. At this time I would like you, My beloved apostles, to also accept that your view is limited. In seeking the good of all of God's children, I must allow changes to come which will impact all of God's children. I do this to bring about the goodness and peace I refer to but the change will be gradual in terms of the benefits to come. Trust Me in everything. I do not abandon even one of God's children and My beloved apostles who give Me constant friendship and loyalty will be united with Me in everything. Be at peace, dear children. I am with you.