The Monastic Heart

queen annes lace and lake

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

Lessons from a Well-Loved Life

mary-jane-wavingSeveral years ago, we asked Sister Mary Jane Wallace to reminisce about her life as a Benedictine. She brought scrapbooks, photos, typed notes and laugh-out-loud stories.

Sr. Mary Jane is still a dynamo at 85. She continues to teach piano to children and adults, write skits for community celebrations and work on a book about her ministries. And all of that is what she does in between our daily Benedictine prayer schedule.

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Why I Became – and Remain – a Benedictine Sister

stef-and-kids-in-reading-cornerBy Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

After taking a few years to work and live my Catholic parish life, God sent me another message.

I was at church with my father and youngest sisters, when Sisters from a habited community filed in. The pastor introduced them, and they seemed very nice.

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Rooted Here, Rooted Now: What Our Benedictine Monastic Promises Mean

Sister Stefanie MacDonald signs her monastic promises during a simple but beautiful ceremony in our chapel during her first monastic profession.

One of the differences between apostolic communities (like the Franciscans and Dominicans) and Benedictine monastic communities is our vows. In fact, we don’t actually make “vows.” We make promises. It’s more than a word difference!

Our promises underscore our commitment to each other, as Sisters of St. Benedict. They underscore our commitment to seeking God together. They underscore our commitment to be faithful for life. Continue Reading

Labor Day Vocation Retreat for 22- to 50-Year-Old Single Catholic Women

Register now for this informative and inspiring Labor Day Weekend Retreat

Have you ever wondered what makes an apostolic community different from a monastic community?

Come learn about the range of different Catholic Sisters’ communities located along the Mississippi River in Iowa and Illinois. Continue Reading

Changing the only person we have the power to change

Sr. Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

Wow! I’ve been thinking about this since last week’s gospel. It’s hard to do … even as a Catholic Sister!

We all have people in our lives we’d rather not have to deal with. Maybe they have been harsh with us, maybe they have been cold. Maybe we’ve been unkind to them in return. Continue Reading

Retreat Day #5: Keeping "death" private … and sharing resurrection with the world

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

At last the sun is shining as we gather on our final morning for retreat. The sky is a brilliant blue, the leaves below are many shades of green waving in the breeze. Heaven!

After 4 days of wandering in the Old Testament wilderness, we come into the New Testament. Here, the word for wilderness is cross. Our way now is to follow Jesus … to complete the interior dying that he modeled. Continue Reading

Retreat Day #4: Wrestling in the Wilderness

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

The scent of coffee fills the dining room as the Sisters gather, by foot and by wheelchair, for our 4th day of retreat. Today we are treated to the story of Jacob, which we are reminded to read as our own story.

Jacob, whose name means “to grab,” spends a goodish portion of his life taking advantage of others, and controlling whatever he could control. Indeed, when God visits him, Jacob says he will worship Him if God makes good on his promises. Continue Reading

Retreat Day #3: Trusting our Guide along the way

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Overhead lamps cast a warm glow in the dining room where we have gathered for Day #3. It’s been raining, gently and intermittently, for 2 days. Sister Mary Schmidt’s lettuces are thriving!

Abbot Jerome opened our session this morning by saying there are 2 steps to accepting a vocation. The 1st is to ACCEPT it, but we can get stuck there when we accept it with bitterness or halfheartedness. Continue Reading