Reflection by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
The Church is now beginning to look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit. We are being told to really pay attention to this, and not only pay attention, but to desire it. We hear from the Acts of the Apostles, a verse that is timeless, as necessary to us as it was to the first Christians: “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul taught.” It’s the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ Jesus Himself who opens our heart to hear the words of God, to hear His instructions, to “get the map” of where God is leading us. If we aren’t open to the Holy Spirit, how can we have the life of God in us? When we are open, there is nothing that can stop the life of God from leading us forward.
We should focus on the gifts and the healing of the Holy Spirit now. We should ask for healing for without healing, how can we ever be whole in God? How will we be able to help others come to wholeness if we ourselves haven’t learned where the medicine is? God is that medicine. His Word heals everything, if we are open. But we can only be open to it if we know our own brokenness and desire it to be healed. There’s nothing wrong with seeing brokenness within ourselves. In fact, there’s something wrong if we don’t see it or won’t admit it, for then we won’t ask for it.
We are called to be instruments of God. Each of us is a different instrument and has a different place in the Body of Christ but, we are all God’s instruments. That should bring the excitement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we see the Holy Spirit working not only in our own lives but also in others’ lives, we will have the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rule of St. Benedict
Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk ought at all times have the aspect of Lenten observance, yet, since few have strength enough for this, we exhort all during these days of Lent to lead lives of the greatest purity and to atone during this holy season for all the negligences of other times. This we shall do in a worthy manner if we refrain ourselves from all sin and give ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, and to compunction of heart and to abstinence. Therefore during these days, let us add something to our ordinary service, such as private prayers or abstinence from food and drink, so that each one may offer up to God in the joy of the Holy Spirit something over and above the measure appointed him: that is let him deny his body in food, in drink, in sleep, in superfluous talking, in mirth and withal, long for the holy feast of Easter with the joy of the spiritual desire.
Let each one, however, make known to his Abbot what he offers up, and let it be done with the assistance of his prayers and with his permission; because that which is done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward. All things, therefore, are to be done with the permission of the Abbot.
Meditation by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Lent is a very important time and especially for monastics because we have a real sense of what it means to repent-- we’ve taken a vow of conversion. Lent is the time when we really look at that vow and ask, “What is happening in my life? Am I going towards the light or away from it?” Why is that important? We hear in the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, “As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. And it was night.” That has great significance. So often in the Rule, we exhorted to do things by the light of day. St. Benedict has a real sense of light and darkness. He has a sense that we are called to be children of light, not of darkness. There is nothing hidden from our God. Everything we do should be done for no other reason than for the love of God. Everything is in His presence. Nothing in our hearts is hidden: neither the motives, nor the desires, nor the wounds, nor the sufferings, nor the joys.
Live this Lent in perfect light. Hold everything up to God, to His judgment, not ours. Do not judge and you will not be judged! Take that seriously. God’s word is Truth. We will only see the full Truth when we die; but we live in it, in faith, right now. We have to believe those words. When we believe the words of God we empower them to have power over us. It is up to our free will to give God the power in our lives to convert us.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
In the reading from the letter to the Hebrews today, we can see shades from Chapter 72 of the Rule of St. Benedict. It says in Hebrews, “Strive for peace with everyone and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” I think part of that means if we don’t strive to live in a supernatural way we won’t see the Lord in each other. We have to be living on a supernatural level. We can’t be living on a natural level, because then everything will only be natural. We have to strive for holiness. It says, “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God. That no bitter roots spring up and cause trouble through which many may become defiled.” You know we can pass on bitterness as well as we can pass on goodness. And what does bitterness come from? It comes from an expectation that isn’t met. We feel we have a right to something and when that doesn’t happen bitterness starts taking root. We then often start acting out on it and people see it! Often others will figure that something painful has happened.
Bitterness is often rooted in something that has had to be suffered through and that a person doesn’t understand. It is for this reason that we have to strive to live on a supernatural level. Without seeing things on a supernatural level we won’t understand our suffering, nor will be we be able to be healed of it. One has to go the extra step. That’s what St. Benedict expects when he speaks of the good zeal of the monk (chapter 72). Everyone has had to suffer something they didn’t expect. But if you are living on a supernatural level, you will be able to turn the suffering around into gratitude and you will be healed; and through that others will be healed. Bitterness, on the other hand, can open a door to evil around us. It creates an atmosphere that is not of God.
We all can look at our lives and ask if there is a bitterness we haven’t yet addressed, that’s taken root and we need to deal with. It’s a part of the healing process. If we look at Jesus in the Gospel today, we see our model. Jesus could have been very bitter at how the people treated Him. He didn’t let bitterness take root in Him. He may have mourned over the people’s hardness, but He didn’t turn it into an evil within. That’s what it means to live on a supernatural level.
Reflection by Mother Maria Michael on the Mass readings for Wednesday, February 6 (Hebrews 12:4-7. 11-15; Mark 6: 1-6).
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In today’s Gospel I think we learn more about Mary than about Zechariah. At Gabriel’s appearance, both Mary and Zechariah were taken aback and afraid. They were astonished—Gabriel is magnificent! They were both ready to hear what the angel had to say, but as the message unfolded, one believed totally in the power of God, whereas the other doubted: “Can you really do that?” We hear at the end that Zechariah gets chastised a bit. I wonder what would have happened if the people hadn’t been praying outside. It’s a real question. What would have happened had they not been praying? In a sense, God overrides Zechariah’s doubt, and still gives the gift, and perhaps because of those praying outside.
In Mary’s case, the angel’s response comes to us as a hint of what Mary was thinking, for he said, “Nothing is impossible for God.” It’s as if he is the echo of her own thoughts, of what would have been going through her head as she heard this marvelous decree. Compare Gabriel’s response to Zechariah, “I was sent to speak to you and announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless… because you did not believe my words.” Gabriel is a bit taken aback! Angels were giving messages throughout this whole time in our salvation history. Joseph believed and it was credited to him. Mary believed and we see what happened: the Savior is born. Zechariah didn’t believe. Even in the face of angels, he couldn’t believe the word of God.
That disbelief of Zechariah can chasten us a bit too. We should ask ourselves if even an angel would tell us something, would we believe it? It could be a message about ourselves or about another. Would we believe in the good of another if an angel told us, or would we doubt it? If an angel himself came to you and said, “God loves you so much… this is what He’s going to do for you…” Would you believe it? That’s a good question as we approach Christmas. There is a gift at Christmas for each one. Will you believe it? Now is the time for preparation. Pray, pray that you will believe.
Reflection on Luke 1:5-24 by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
We have a feast day today not only for the Blessed Mother but for us as well as today the Church celebrates the consecrated contemplative life in a special way. Nowadays, you hear a lot of people say that they want the contemplative life but out in the world. But the contemplative life requires a giving up of the world. Part of living the contemplative life requires that no one, but God alone will see your good works. Who do we work for? Who is the one that all our actions point towards? Who are we serving in the end? And are we serving to be seen or are we serving simply to give? In Cathedrals no one sees the tops of the pillars that uphold the roofs of these huge Churches. No one sees the beautiful work that was done on those heights. Though a person may have spent their lifetime embellishing those pillars which no one will see, nothing was lost. Why? Because they believed their work was totally dedicated to God. They didn’t need anyone other than God to see it because of their faith. We have to ask ourselves how much we live out that kind of faith. How much do we put ourselves into works that nobody will see? As monastics, if we remember the faith we are to have, then everything we do, we will do well, suitable for a king.
The movement for the new evangelization stresses that it must take root and heart in the pillars of the Church: the religious, the bishops, the cardinals, the priests. The new evangelization has to begin with us. If we don’t believe, who will? And if we don’t put flesh on our belief, what will it mean? We put flesh on our faith when we do everything for the King. In that way, we serve the Church far more nobly than we would in any work that would be seen by the world.
A reflection by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Friday, November 16, 2012
We have a wonderful feast today to celebrate with St. Gertrude present among us. I think she’s allowed to be present with those who invite her, so we invite St. Gertrude to celebrate the day fully with us and to enlighten us and pray for us, that we may celebrate as she celebrates. We know that St. Gertrude can only celebrate with her whole heart. Her conversion began that fullness of love for which she is renowned. I wish for all of us that same fullness of love. That fullness of love always comes from a renewed conversion within us, a new sense that, yes, we’re sinners, but we’re loved sinners. God is not focusing on our sins, God is focusing on our love. There comes a point in our lives where we have to throw away our cares but that we only care that God is loved. God wants so much to be a Father to us.
Cardinal Dolan gave an excellent talk on the new evangelization in which he says that the new evangelization will in essence depend on and begin with the conversion of the bishops, cardinals, priests, nuns, the religious. We begin the new evangelization because we have to hear it new to pass it on new. We have to begin a new fire within us to help set the world on fire. It’s going to begin with us; and that means a conversion. But conversion doesn’t mean a doleful, sorrowful way of looking at everything. It’s a way that rather abandons oneself to love and says “whatever I need to hear, I want to hear it so that I can be new, so that I can be changed, so that I can grow evermore in love.” I think St. Gertrude would say 'Amen' to that.
I’ll quote a bit of what Cardinal Dolan said in his address:
“As I began my talk this morning, my brothers, so I would like to end it, with Blessed John XXIII.
It was the Sunday angelus of October 28, 1962.The message the Holy Father delivered on that bright Roman afternoon never even mentions the phrase New Evangelization. But it strikes right at the heart of the mission entrusted to each of us as shepherds.
‘I feel something touching my spirit that leads to serenity," Good Pope John remarked. "The word of the Gospel is not silent. It resonates from one end of the world to the other, and finds the way of the heart. Dangers and sorrows, human prudence and wisdom, everything needs to dissolve into a song of love, into a renewed invitation, pleading all to desire and wish for the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ. A kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice, love and peace.’”
That spirit goes on because it’s the spirit of the Church and it’s the spirit that cries out, “love beyond love!” As we sing the feast of St. Gertrude today, let us carry out that joyous love which we find overflowing in the antiphons. Our own lives should be an exclamation point of a song of love.
The above meditation was given by Mother Maria Michael Newe to the nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Today we have the blessing of All Souls' Day. We know that purgatory is a place in which there’s a chance to purify the sins that have not yet been purified. I believe part of purgatory is seeing who we truly are in our innermost being and the ways in which we have not been true to ourselves. Purgatory gives us a chance to become true to ourselves.
Today when we visit the cemetery, we remember our sisters and we pray they are all in heaven, but if any one not be we offer our prayers for them. Today is a day on which we can be a great service to those who have gone before us. There is the mystery of suffering for others. It doesn’t mean that we have to do something extraordinary and painful, but it can be the simple accepting of whatever God gives us for the day. We know that those people who become most perfect are those who have suffered like Christ. I think it’s because you have to love something more than yourself to suffer like Christ. God sends us nothing that we cannot endure and it’s through nobility that suffering is accepted. Suffering is truly a gift. But to know and to believe that is only possible through faith. The noblest people are those who suffer, and suffer pointing towards God.
In a most special way we nuns have been chosen to serve God most perfectly. Everything we do is to be in His hands. We can ourselves ask, “Am I all that God is calling me to? Am I doing everything that God has asked of me? Do I serve as He would like me to? And do I see life as a gift from His hands? Or have I twisted my life and made it something other than He wants it to be?” Thinking of those things can give us compunction of heart. I’m sure today, those who have gone before us would want to tell us what they wish they would have done differently during their life. May they pray for us that we can see those things in our own lives before we die. Live differently. We are called to be different from the world, to give that example of preparing for eternity.
Reflection given to the nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Some of our sisters who have gone before us to eternal life:
|Mother Gertrude, the second prioress of our community.|
|Sr. Miriam, the first American postulant, entered at age 19 and showed great courage as she battled lupus for 30 years.|
|The two Fackler sisters, Sr. Benedicta and Sr. Angelika.|
|Sr. Mechtild loved to entertain guests by playing the harmonica|
|Sr Angela pictured here managed the farm most of her life.|
|Sr. Regina, who began our Altar Bread business, was a highly talented artist and a model before becoming a nun. She also died of a very virulent form of lupus in her early 40's.|
Saturday, October 20, 2012
In today’s Gospel reading it says, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.” We should ask ourselves how do we acknowledge Jesus Christ? What are the things that say we are His followers? One of the greatest signs that we are His followers is humility—to be humble of heart. We hear St. Benedict speak of humility in Chapter 7 of his rule:
“Wherefore brethren if we wish to gain the summit of humility and speedily attain to that heavenly exaltation to which we can ascend only by the humility of this present life we must by actions which will constantly elevate us [I think that’s important—actions that will elevate us, elevate our mind, our way of thinking, elevate our will] erect that ladder which Jacob beheld in his dream and on which angels appeared descending and ascending. This descent and ascent, we must understand without doubt as being nothing other than that we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility. The ladder itself thus erected is our life in this world, which our Lord having respect to our humility of heart lifts up even to heart.”
If we’re striving for heaven, we’re going to have to let go and not be in control all the time. We are also going to have to keep our mind on the things of God. These things elevate our heart and our mind to Him. To be humble of heart, our way must be different from that of the world. The world is very concerned that a person be “on top” and that they have all the “gifts” to go forward—power, money, intelligence (I mean this in a way that puts them above others, not at the service of others. Great intelligence is a gift and is always one that is to be put at the service of others. Isn’t that what St. Thomas Aquinas and all the other doctors of the Church did so beautifully?) We must deny our self- will and do what is better for another. That is the mark of a Benedictine. We learn in community to care about others. That is the greatest way we can grow in humility. The way St. Benedict wishes to lead us in humility is to have us see Christ in the other. That’s how you acknowledge Christ before others: to see Him in others, serve Him in others, love Him in others. And in turn, you will be loving Christ fully.
The above is a reflection by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Often it happens in this life that when something is taken away from us, we then realize just how much we loved it. Our community is currently in need of a resident priest. As it is now, we have a daily communion service, and only a couple of times a week have the privilege of attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Missing the fullness of the graces found in daily Mass has caused us to reflect on the value of a Mass.
What is the value of a Mass? Blessed John Paul II provides a profound answer to this question when saying that the Eucharistic sacrifice “is the sacrifice of Redemption and also the sacrifice of the New Covenant.” (DC,9) When we celebrate the Mass this “single sacrifice of our salvation” is made present [i.e. it occurs here and now] and thus “man and the world are restored to God.” (ibid) The priest at Holy Mass, acting in persona Christi, by virtue of his Ordination, performs this “true sacrificial act that brings creation back to God.” (ibid). It is at the Mass that Jesus gathers up all the fragments of our broken humanity, all our cries of pain and suffering and transforms them, through His great priestly prayer, into a pathway to His life and love (Ratzinger, 49-50). It is here that we realize that “love is stronger than death,” and here that the mysteries of life that haunt us are answered.(ibid) Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again: this is the answer that the Mass gives us and not only gives us but makes us partakers of. We become one with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Thus we come to the value of the priest for the Church and for a community of contemplative nuns. To the priest is entrusted the ministering of the sacraments which nourish, build and sustain the Church. A contemplative nun is called to be the voice of the Church in prayer. It is only through the graces we receive in these sacraments that we are able to live a life “worthy of our calling,” that we are able to love the world with the heart of Christ, that we are able to be the heart of the Church in prayer. Please pray that God will grant us the gift of a priest.
As we await this gift, we pray in union with all those who long to attend daily Mass and as yet are unable. Together, we reside with all the Church, in a communion of love. “May Christ bring us all together to everlasting life!” RB 72
If you or someone you know would be interested in serving our community through ministering the holy sacraments, for any amount of time, please click here.
DC= Dominicae Cenae, Letter of Pope John Paul II on the Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist.
Ratzinger, Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI). God is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life. Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2003.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
|Cardinal Arinze preaching the homily at Mass.|
At the end of his homily, Cardinal Arinze turned to our community with the words, “The Church has entrusted to you some of her greatest needs,” and encouraged us to continue to serve the Church by our prayers and sacrifices.
|Cardinal Arinze speaking with Mother Maria Michael at breakfast.|