One Heart and One Soul: Stories from our Monastic Home"And so we are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord...For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God's commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love." Rule of Benedict, Prologue 45-49
Over the past year, our sisters have been meeting with liturgical advisers and artists, seeking to renew our Peace Chapel space. We desired to keep many of our original sacred elements: the hand carved legs of the altar and ambo, the simple black iron candle stands, as well as the tabernacle, eternal light, and stands designed by one of our sisters. We were also planning for our sisters; chairs with arms to support our elders, chairs with padding to warm the color of the Chapel and absorb the echo from the brick and sandstone walls.
Our central worship space was back-lit by our beautiful stained glass windows. However, the light from the windows and open walkway space distracted our focus of vision and prayer from the altar, the center of our Eucharistic Celebration. It was advised to create a solid wall to backdrop and draw due honor to the altar, ambo, and presider’s chair. Both pictures show our Chapel during the Easter Season, and the Easter banners and Candle highlight the joy-filled season in our new Peace Chapel. As the Church seasons change, our sisters will bring different artwork, banners, and statues to highlight the space and draw our prayers together at the altar. You are welcome to join in the prayer of the Divine Office and the Celebration of the Eucharist with us weekdays in the Peace Chapel.
Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there. When the Work of God is ended, let all go out in perfect silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any sister who may wish to pray privately will not be hindered by another’s misconduct (Rule of Benedict, chapter 52).
We have also been renovating the chapel set aside for the reservation of the Eucharist. The tabernacle has always held a place of honor in the center of the space, but the pale curtain did not fully highlight the tabernacle. The renovation changed the curtain out for another wall, this one with a slight curve and a warm and rich color to draw our eyes to the center. The deep wine of the wall brings an even greater shine to the tabernacle peak and causes the contrast of the oak and iron to stand out. You are welcome to take time in your day to rest and pray with our Lord.
And at other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart. She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said (Rule of Benedict, chapter 52).
Blessings to you,
As you begin planning your Easter celebrations, remember to set aside time for personal prayer and worship with the Church.
All are welcome to join us in our Liturgy of the Hours, Masses, and prayers during the celebration of the Paschal Triduum!
Please note for Easter Monday the Celebration of the Eucharist is at 9:00 a.m. not p.m.
Rule of Benedict: chapter 49 “On the Observance of Lent”
Although the life of a monk out to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance…we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent the brethren keep their lives most pure and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the negligences of other times…and give ourselves up to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink. Thus everyone of his own will may offer God “with joy of the Holy Spirit” something above the measure required of him. From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking, and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter.
Rule of Benedict: chapter 52 “On The Oratory of the Monastery”And at other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart. She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said.
Rule of Benedict: chapter 49 On The Observance of Lent (cont’d)
Let each monk, however, suggest to his Abbot what it is that he wants to offer, and let it be done with his blessing and approval. For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward. Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot’s approval.
Our Lenten resolutions, received and blessed by the Prioress on Ash Wednesday, remain before the altar throughout the Lenten season as a reminder to us and a continuous offering and sacrifice to the Lord. Ash Wednesday also began our monastic Lenten traditions of sacrifice and almsgiving. As a community, we join the Universal Church in continuing our Friday sacrifice and abstinence from meat; however, we also add an additional simple supper of soup and bread on Wednesdays. Finally, we refrain from our Sister Baker’s fresh-made treats throughout the Lenten season.
Our community also shares in the Benedictine tradition of table reading during our weekday suppers. This Lent we are sharing in listening to “The Fire in the Cloud” by Francis Martin. Our Benedictine family is also joining in almsgiving; the Sunday donations to the monastery and our sisters own personal offerings, reserved from their personal budgets, will be offered to AIM, Alliance for International Monasticism.
The Rule of Benedict encourages us to “Listen carefully with the ear of your heart.” Sister Penny, Prioress of our Monastery, reflected on this quote in her Ash Wednesday reflection to the community.
When we truly listen to another person in conversation, or to our God in prayerful encounters, we risk being changed by what we hear; we risk being called to act differently. We become vulnerable to the other. In emptying ourselves to make room for the new, we risk conversion. This is the heart work of listening, of Lent. We open ourselves, our hearts so that we might come to greater understanding, to a new sense of things, to possibly even being transformed, and empowered to act in new ways. As followers of Jesus we listen so that we might come to know how to be more like the One to whom we’ve opened our heart – how to act more like Jesus, the One in whose image we are made.
We joyfully announce the election of Sister Maribeth Wentzlaff as our fourteenth Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery.
Join us in praying for God’s blessing and the guidance of the Spirit as Sr. Maribeth prepares “to hold the place of Christ in the monastery” (Rule of Benedict 2).
Sr. Maribeth will be canonically installed as Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery as a part of our Monastic Chapter at the beginning of June.
We spent four days in prayerful discernment during our Chapter of Election. It was an amazing experience to consider all the sisters’ gifts and talents, and then reflect on how those could be shared as the prioress of our community. All throughout the prayer and discussion and prayer and balloting and prayer and more voting, there was a great trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit (for which we prayed at every celebration of our Liturgy of the Hours). The culmination of these days was our ‘canonical’ election which is the decisive balloting for prioress in which our sister Maribeth was chosen as Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery.
Following the election were the two tender parts of our community tradition. Each sister approached Sr. Maribeth and placed our hands in hers or hugged her as we offered our support. There were few tears in our eyes as all our members from elder to novice came up to her and offered their prayers with great love in their voices. The agape was the final part of our tradition of election. The sisters celebrated in the Chapter room with Sr. Baker’s fresh bread in one hand, a bit of wine in the other, and greeted each other with hope, joy, and faith-filled anticipation for our future. It was beautiful to listen to the blessed sound of laughter fill the room as the monastery bells pealed our joy, announcing the election to the whole Yankton community.
Of her election, S. Maribeth says, “The election process is a very sacred time for a monastic community. It is a truly a blessing to be called forth by my sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery and the Holy Spirit, to serve my community in this ministry. I am humbled by the affirmation of my sisters, and with their love and support, I feel empowered to journey with them into an exciting and joy-filled future.”
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Each day of National Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the stories of our Jubiliarian Sisters, those celebrating significant anniversaries in religious life! Our final Diamond Jubilarian sister is celebrating 70 YEARS of service to Christ, Church, and Community…
Sister Madonna grew up one-half mile east of Epiphany, SD. “I was surrounded by faith-filled relatives, people of virtue, honesty, and kindness… our daily lives included familial and public prayer.” Entering the monastery proved to be challenging because her aunt, Mother Jerome, was prioress. “I was torn between experiencing her as an exacting authority figure and a loving, devoted Aunt.” After entering the monastery in 1942, she attended Mount Marty High School, received her Bachelor of Arts from Mount Marty College, a Bachelor of Liturgical Music from the Gregorian Institute of America, and a Masters in Music Education from USD.
She ministered as a liturgist and music instructor in many of our schools. She was also the Postulant Directress for six years while teaching chorus, piano, and speech at Mount Marty High School. After teaching at the elementary level, Sr. Madonna was a Parish Minister in the Grand Island Diocese and at St. Michael’s Parish in Sioux Falls and also served in Pastoral Care.
Since retiring, she continues sharing her life of faith by volunteering at both Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and Mount Marty College, she is also an avid gardener. S. Madonna shared, “In the year 2016, I will have walked the way of St. Benedict for seventy years. Mine has been a richly rewarding journey of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, fully cognizant that God is very much in all of it! How I wish that those who are searching God’s plan might take that leap of faith and experience the richness of the GIFT that is mine.”
As we close this National Catholic Sisters Week, we ask for your continued prayers for the sisters and nuns throughout our nation as well as those women who are now discerning God’s will in their lives.
Loving God, by your grace,
Catholic Sisters throughout the world continue to respond to Your Baptismal invitation
to live lives dedicated to prayer and loving service.
Enkindle in their hearts a renewed desire to be zealous servants of the Gospel
and continuing signs of Your presence in our world.
Preserve and strengthen in them the passion and the vision
to welcome and to serve all Your people without hesitation or pause.
As they strive to live the mission of their respective congregations,
empower them to do so with courageous simplicity,
consecrated celibacy, and committed obedience to Your will.
We ask this in union with Jesus the Christ,
who showed these dedicated women the way to living in union with You. Amen.
~Mary Rose Romeo, SSJ
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Pope Francis said, “The Eucharist affects the way we see others. In his life, Christ manifested his love by being with people, and by sharing their desires and problems. So, too, the Eucharist brings us together with others–young and old, poor and affluent, neighbors and visitors. The Eucharist calls us to see all of them as our brothers and sisters, and to see in them the face of Christ.” ~ February 14, 2014 General Audience.
God Bless You for Visiting!