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

Retreat Day #1: The Wilderness is the Way

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

At long last, retreat time has arrived at St. Mary Monastery. A profound quiet fills our hallways and rooms. Many smiles and pats on the shoulder replace conversation. The sense of relaxation is palpable.

What do we do during retreat? In some ways, nothing different from usual. We follow our same schedule, give or take an hour. That is, we gather for Lauds, Noonday Prayer, Vespers and Eucharist. We pray Lectio Divina. We take our meals together at noon and 5:30. Continue Reading

Answering God's Call Together

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Recently someone told me that young people are looking for community but not a vowed life. Hmmm. While it’s clear not as many women are pursuing religious life today as there use to be, we are still out here. In our hearts, we are looking for something more … together.

As Pope Francis said in a General Audience on May 22, 2013, “… it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit.” Continue Reading

Sign on the dotted line …

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

When I was visiting my aunt in Naperville, Ill., she asked me how the Benedictine Sisters recruit. Was it like the military?

I was happy to say no. We don’t stay at the door until someone signs. We don’t give the hard sell with out telling the truth that there will be difficult times. We don’t offer uniforms. Continue Reading