The Monastic Heart

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By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

What distinguishes monastic religious life from apostolic religious life includes some straightforward lifestyle differences. Monastics pray, live, and often work together. Apostolic Sisters usually do not, at least not as a whole group.

More difficult to articulate is something often referred to as the “monastic heart,” a state of being that embraces silence and a listening stance. Whether you are married, single or a Benedictine Sister, having a monastic heart helps engage you in right relationship with all creation.

When I was living and teaching in Chicago years ago, the constant noise and congestion of the place got old fast. I couldn’t wait to get home to Dubuque, Iowa, to hear … nothing. I couldn’t wait to rest my senses. Continue Reading

God’s Early Morning Gifts

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Walking on an early summer morning, Sister Sheila is greeted by the sun. The darkness of fall and winter beckons her as much, as she prays her rosary and gives thanks for God’s gifts.

By Sister Sheila McGrath, OSB

Peaceful … quiet … dark. What am I describing? My morning walk!

God’s gifts are so evident as I take my morning walk at the beginning of each new day. Continue Reading

A Benedictine Catholic Sister’s Story of “Yes”

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Benedictine Sisters process to Mass in their heavy serge habits.

By Sister Charlotte Sonneville, OSB

It was a hot August afternoon when Sisters Marilyn Hettinger, Sandra Mock and I arrived back at the Catechetical Center in Ladd, Illinois. We had been driving for 4 hours, returning from 2 months at the monastery in Nauvoo.

We had just changed out of our traditional wool habits and into our cotton work habits when the phone rang. Father William, OSB, told us that the local Presbyterian pastor’s wife had died. Could we please represent our Catholic community at her funeral?

Of course we said yes. We had enjoyed some great youth programs with our two Churches and knew that it was important to offer our prayerful support.

But changing back into our hot, heavy serge habits was quite a sacrifice. And the funeral was just an hour from then. Continue Reading

No more oatmeal bowls in the sink: Monastic life vs apartment life

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Sister Stefanie shares some thoughts about what Monastic Benedictine life has meant to her … and how it differs from life on her own.

What have you found to be most challenging about your new life?

Living with other people means I can’t let my oatmeal bowl sit in the sink till I get home from work in the afternoon! Continue Reading

Celebrating, Treasuring, Growing: What Advent Gives You

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By Sister Mary Core, OSB

For most of contemporary society, Advent gets lost in the season of shopping. People rush through malls and big box stores, loading gifts into baskets, buying more than they can afford and collapsing in exhaustion when they get home.

Which is why – if you were to come to St. Mary Monastery now – you might be surprised to find no Christmas trees, lights or sparkle. (Of course, those do come later!)

That’s because we’re preparing for Christmas here. We’re focusing on Advent! Continue Reading

Celebrating Loved Ones on All Saints Day

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The Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, celebrate All Saints Day by remembering the Sisters who have gone before us, as well as all of our other loved ones.

By Sister Charlotte Sonneville, OSB

“Happy Feast Day!” I called out to my grumpy brother.

It was All Saints Day, and he was feeling a bit grouchy. I, on the other hand, was feeling joyful. All Saints Day is a lovely feast day! Continue Reading