Listening with renewed vigor on Pentecost

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Today is the feast of Pentecost. What does that mean? As Father Karl Rahner wrote, “God is ours…he has given us His whole being without reserve; He has given us the clarity of His knowledge, the freedom of His love and the bliss of His Trinitarian life. He has given us Himself. And His name is Holy Spirit. He is ours … God is our God: that is the glad tidings of Pentecost.”

If God is ours and has given God’s whole being to us, what does it mean? What should we do?

We hear that God expects nothing in return, which is comforting but not an answer.

Think how much we expect from God. Should we not give back? Should we not live our lives as we are called? Continue Reading

A Clean Heart Create for Me, God

Turn away your face from my sins, blot out all my guilt.  A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit Psalm 51

When discerning about religious life it is essential to look at yourself and where you have been in your life.  My last blog posed the question of who loved you immensely and in some way introduced you to the intimate love of God as reflected in Psalm 139.  Today I look at Psalm 51, another passage I suggest for discerning about your personal history.

Psalm 51 is powerful because it recalls the loving, forgiving and nurturing God. Continue Reading

Shedding Our Leaves to Grow

Autumn foliage along the Mississippi River, near the Benedictine Sisters St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill.

Read Nancy’s wonderful discernment prayer comparing her life to autumn in “A Time to Plant,” below. Leaves must fall before new growth can begin, she says, and I agree! In our lives we must shed our old leaves in order to grow.

Discernment is a Paschal Mystery walk, where we pray to let go of what we cling to and learn to embrace what God sets before us. What is it in our lives that God is nudging us to change and to move beyond? These difficult inner movements require a listening heart, a trusting heart and an attentive heart. We must die to our desires and comforts in order for God to break through with God’s desires for us.

The Paschal Mystery – Jesus letting go of human life – went beyond the everyday to embrace God’s plan of resurrection and eternal life. Our discernment journey may ask the same of us – to let go of the familiar, the everyday – in order to embrace God’s plan for us. Not an easy journey but a transformative journey – where we are more deeply responding to God’s new life for us.

Your Gifts

Stefanie posted two great prayers this week regarding discernment (in “A Time to Plant,” below). What struck me was each prayer referred to knowing your gifts and how best to use them in service of God and God’s People. That is the crux of discernment!

Here’s what I mean: While our Benedictine community has the gift of leading a rhythmic life of prayer and work, other communities are quite different. Many emphasize work more than living in community and sharing prayer. Some are cloistered and emphasize prayer over work. Our community values living together at the monastery, following a balanced life of prayer and work. Other communities allow Sisters to live wherever their jobs take them, often living alone or in small groups.

Do your gifts emphasize prayer, community and ministry? If so, visit our Benedictine community! If your gift is to do ministry without such an emphasis on life and prayer in community, an Apostolic community may be your match.

Know yourself, your gifts and how you are called to use them in your life. Try using Stefanie’s prayers as a guide to your reflection.

Peace I Leave You

Benedictine Sisters' St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Illinois

For over 20 year Be Not Afraid has been a popular song in funeral liturgies and at retreats. It expresses our human longing to be at peace even in the midst of extraordinary tension and uncomfortable experiences.

We use a similar Taize chant at the Monastery with the simple phrase, “Peace I leave you, Peace I give you, Be not afraid.” I find it a wonderful prayer and very engaging chant. In fact, we used it in today’s liturgy. Continue Reading