peace dove

From Bruce Baumgartner’s Oblate Day presentation:

When the invitation to speak on peace came I immediately thought of my
first spiritual teacher, Peace Pilgrim. She has been a profound influence on
my life. Next I remembered the times I worked for justice, stood for peace.
You can’t have peace without justice, the two go together. I also learned
something new when I entered into a period of listening. However this week I
became a little torn as to what to speak about with economic injustice all
around us. Continue Reading

Prayer and Listening II

Listening to God's voice in the butterfly that alights on the flower

From Chris Kraft’s presentation on Oblate Day:

“LISTEN carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it and faithfully put it into practice.” This first line of The Rule of Saint Benedict’s prologue is direct and clear.

The second instruction Benedict gives us in his Prologue is to pray. He says every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.

Listening and Prayer are finely woven. Prayer is simply talking to God. He speaks to us; we listen. We speak to Him; He listens. A two-way process. speaking and listening. It’s easy to talk to someone when you know they love you unconditionally. Prayer life is to be lived as a faithful response to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Continue Reading

Prayer and Listening

God's voice in nature as shown by a bird

From Carolyn Gray’s presentation on Oblate Day:

One could focus on one or the other of these topics; however, I find it difficult to separate the two. The day I began my preparation for sharing with you, I was praying Psalm 101 and I was struck by the verse: “I accompany those who love you, that I may grow in Wisdom: I enter into the Silence, into the Eternal Light, and listen for your gentle Voice.” Continue Reading

Surprised by Obedience

In May of 1991 I made the first extended retreat of my life at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. (At the time we lived in Montgomery, Alabama, so the monastery at Conyers was the closest monastic house to us.) I was very naive and had great ambitions for the five days, one of which was a three day fast. I was in the habit of fasting at the time, but never more than 36 hours at a time. When I met with the Retreat Master, Dom Augustine (or Father Gus, as he was more commonly called), I told him, with some smugness, that I was planning the long fast.  He winced and said, “Don’t do that; just loaf with the Lord.” I inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, “What does he know? The path to holiness does not lie in “loafing with the Lord.” Continue Reading

On Balance II by Linda Jani

Benedictine sisters walk along a path at St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill

Oblate Day 2008 was filled with provocative and nourishing presentations by the Oblates, and many have agreed to post them here on the blog. Rock Island Oblate Ric Smith, a regular blogger here, posted his talk below, and Macomb Oblate Bill Maakestad’s presentation is previous to this post by Macomb Oblate Linda Jani.

Two quotes help me set the theme for these remarks:
1Cor 1:18 – “The message of the cross is folly for those who are on their way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God.” (NJB)

Rule of Benedict, Prologue (Reading for Sept.3) – “See how God’s love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way with the Gospel for our guide that we may deserve to see the Holy One.”

Both of these quotes seem to frame the life of faith as a pilgrimage- a walking journey.

I think of walking as a good analogy for balance: in order to move forward we have to throw our bodies out of static balance. Continue Reading

On Balance

Oblate Day 2008 was filled with provocative and nourishing presentations by the Oblates, and many have agreed to post them here on the blog. Rock Island Oblate Ric Smith, a regular blogger here, posted his talk previous to this post. Macomb Oblate Bill Maakestad’s presentation is below.

I.    Introduction: On Balance

A.    “A man should always wear a garment with two pockets.  In one there should be a note which reads, “I am but dust and ashes.” In the other, there should be a paper which says, “For me the world was created.” (Rabbi Fields) Continue Reading

First Lesson in Obedience/ First Step Toward Conversion

I mow my lawn as obsessively/compulsively as I do a number of things.  One time I’ll mow in rows running north-south, the next time east-west, then diagonally one way, then diagonally the other way.  Back when I lived down south and had lush St. Augustine grass, my yard would rival a major league baseball diamond. Since we moved to Iowa, I’m happy if any grass grows at all; “lush” is no longer in my lawn-related vocabulary.

Fifteen or so years ago, I can remember mowing along a perfectly straight row one hot July or August day when it occurred to me, out of the blue: “turn around and go the other way.”  It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was definitely one of those attention-getter “thoughts” that have now and again over the course of my life turned out to be God’s way of communicating with me. Continue Reading

A grandbaby and God

I want to introduce you to my new grand daughter, Corinne Madeleine Stocker, born September 16th, almost a month ago. Here’s a picture giving us a foretaste of her many smiles. It was an earth shaking experience to become a grandmother the first time in 2007 with fireworks of wonder and love lighting up all my sky. Now, this time, I’ve held our tiny Corinne with such a glow of happiness and a quiet, still sky above me. I’ve become reflective about God being a sort of eternally joyous Grandma/Grandpa.

First we pass on our “spirits” to our children as we raise them and now I am watching my children pass on their “spirits” . I know so concretely now that God acts in human history, that is, the Eternal Spirit is not just an aloof deity sitting on a throne in the heavens. God is in this beautiful new baby! Just massaging Corinnes’s new body has definitely made me optimistically in love with life.

A Women's Minyan

The Women’s Minyan is the title of a play by Naomi Ragen about a woman who is ostracized by her Ultra-Orthodox community when she leaves her husband because of a range of abuses.  She leaves in night when she must save her life, and the community refused to let her see her 12 children, believing lies told about her by her husband and the rabbi with the support of the town’s women.  The plot revolves around the ostracized woman’s plea to ten women in the community (including her mother and former mother-in-law, two daughters, and a sister-in-law) to hear her case in a women’s minyan.  Normally a minyan for purposes of prayer and justice involves ten men in orthodox Judaism, but a women’s minyan may be called for rare occasions, including an effort to reconcile enemies.  Continue Reading