God's Open and Closed Hand

Ever since my days of reading the chilren’s nature magazine, Ranger Rick, I have responded to the sweeping love of creation found in Psalm 104:  the rain fleeing the thunder of God’s rebuke by pouring down to earth, the rock badgers hiding in crags, thirsty wild donkeys, the stork nesting in the highest branches of the cedars of Lebanon, the lions savagely “claiming their food from God” by night, then “going back to lie down in their lairs” as “people go out to work” by day.  The psalmist is clearly awestruck by both the grandeur of wind and mountains and sea, and in love with the particularities of innumerable creatures.  Today that psalmist would undoubtedly be an environmentalist. Continue Reading

Hermits and a book recommendation

Silence, Solitude, Simplicity

A few summers ago I met two hermits when I went to a Monastic Institute in Collegeville, MN. Both are women, one in her mid-fifties, the other, Sr. Jeremy Hall OSB, is now in her late 80s and probably could be called a “retired hermit”. By that I mean that she is back living communally with the Benedictines of St. Benedict monastery. Continue Reading

Forgiveness by Colleen McCulla


In Ephesians 4:32 it says “And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  These last words of the Epistle speak of forgiveness.  In Luke 6:37 it is written, Stop judging and you will not be judged.  Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  This is also the major premise behind our most universal prayer “The Lord’s Prayer”. . .”Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”  It is, if you will, a two way street.

When I was three I made my Grandma cry.  I loved my grandma more than anyone.  She was kind and so loving and she would let me brush her hair for hours.  I would stay with her overnight and as a treat we would walk from her house downtown and go to Woolworth’s or Kresge’s and sit at the lunch counter where I would spin around in circles on the stools and have ham salad sandwiches and a coke. Continue Reading


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

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