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
Whew! It has been a busy couple weeks here at the monastery. We hosted over fifty sisters from 14 different communities for the Chapter Meetings (official business meetings) of the Federation of Saint Gertrude. It took the help that was offered by all our sisters! They volunteered to prepare gift bags, bedrooms, and meeting spaces. Sisters woke up early and stayed up late to meet airplanes and guide our guests to their bedrooms. They worked behind-the-scenes and filled in as extra dish-washers, kitchen aids, and room cleaners. Sisters hosted socials each evening and gave up a day to offer tours of our Yankton area for the Sister Delegates’ on their free-day. They also prepared additional Liturgy of the Hours (prayer) books and readied the pews in Chapel so that the Sister Delegates could join us for daily Prayer and Eucharist. Most importantly, our sisters offered their prayer for the Sister Delegates and the success of their meetings. All in all, the Federation Chapter ran like the Swiss Trains on which our earliest sisters once traveled.
The Benedictine Federation of Saint Gertrude was established by the Apostolic See with tentative approval on April 14, 1937, and definitive approval received on April 4, 1950. The twelve member monasteries and two affiliated ecumenical communities trace their roots to Benedictine abbeys of women from Eichstätt in Bavaria, and Maria Rickenbach, Sarnen, and Melchtal in Switzerland. Arriving in the mid-19th to the early 20th century, these communities came to American and began to serve the needs of the Church and the People of God. While each member monastery remains autonomous, we share a common set of canonical documents, “Listen”, which guide our monastic life. The Federation of Saint Gertrude is a source of mutual support, service, collaboration, and dialogue to encourage the continuing growth and development of each member monastery.
The Sister Delegates gathered around the theme “Paschal Mystery: Journey to Transformation”. They began with guest speakers: Sr. Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Fr. Dan Ward, OSB, on the Paschal Mystery theme and about engaging transformation and change in our monastic communities. Then the work of the Chapter began: studying by-laws, reviewing canon law, establishing new direction statements for the next three years, and electing a new president and five councilors to the Federation. After much discussion, discernment, and prayer, the Federation Chapter elected our own Sister Jeanne Weber of Sacred Heart Monastery as President of the Federation and councilors from five other monasteries in the Federation: Sr. Barbara Lynn (Monastery Immaculate Conception), Sr. Mary (St. Benedict’s Monastery), Sr. Mary Luke (Our Lady of Grace Monastery), Sr. Shawn (Mount St. Benedict Monastery), and Sr. Teresa (Monastery of St. Gertrude).
The week of Federation Chapter concluded with Vespers and the installation of Sister Jeanne as Federation President and Sisters as Federation Councilors. Sister Joella’s last act as President of the Federation was to commission Sister Jeanne to carry out the duties of the Office of President which includes a commitment to preserve the monastic way and Benedictine Rule within the monasteries and a resolve to safeguard each monastery’s heritage and autonomy. Then she blessed her: “We now ask our loving God to bless Sister Jeanne as she begins her term as President of the Federation of Saint Gertrude. Let us ask our God to sustain and guide her as she serves our Federation. May the gifts of the Spirit be poured out upon her so that she may in turn inflame with good zeal the hearts of all those she serves. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” Sister Jeanne’s first act as Federation President was to call forth the five councilors elected by the delegates and to commission them to service to the Federation and ask God’s blessing through the Spirit.
Please pray for Sr. Jeanne as she begins this service to the sisters of our Federation.
Blessings to you,
Tonight we begin our celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the patronal feast of our monastery. We will begin this evening with first Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The celebration continues on the day of the Feast with our prayer and Eucharist being celebrated in the Bishop Marty Chapel. The Psalms and antiphons all echoing the reminders of Christ’s great love for us poured out through His Sacred Heart.
“Let us love one another with fervent love, endure one another’s infirmities; patiently serve and obey one another, and prefer nothing whatever to Christ.”
~ Vespers Antiphon
“Thus says the LORD: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love”
~ Hosea 11
The day of prayer is accented with little joys to join in the celebration: flavored coffee during the day and time to gather for laughter and recreation. These little joys are part of our family tradition too. Tradition runs deep in our Benedictine life. The mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (below) in the Chapter room of the monastery. He has was designed by the artisan sisters in our community; each sister in our community joined in the art by placing individual tiles within the design. The lintel block of our name (below) was placed above our early convent doorway over a hundred years ago. When we rebuilt the monastery in 1999-2000, the lintel was preserved and still declares our presence. Today, it is built into the retaining wall of the flowerbeds in front of the monastery.
We invite you to join us in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel for our celebration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:
~ First Vespers ~ Thursday, June 22nd at 5:15 PM
~ Lauds ~ Friday, June 23rd at 6:30 AM
~ Celebration of the Eucharist following prayer at approximately 6:50 AM
~ Vespers ~ Friday at 5:15 PM
on this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we remember the love with which you first loved us.
We remember the gift of your Son,
Jesus Christ who brings us to birth and feeds us
with the blood and water flowing from his side, pierced on the cross.
Inspired by the Spirit of Love, we desire to give our hearts to you,
and to make the heart of Jesus our own.
Through his most Sacred Heart
we consecrate to you our monastery, the life and work
of each member of this community, and our beloved sick.
We ask you to receive this offering, which we make through Christ,
in the power of the Holy Spirit, one with you forever and ever. Amen.
Blessings to you,
This weekend is TRIPLE the celebration for the monastery. We will be gathering for our Monastic Chapter, installing Sr. Maribeth as our fourteenth prioress, and celebrating the descent of the Spirit upon the Apostles with Pentecost Sunday.
It is wonderfully appropriate that our June Monastic Chapter should coincide with Pentecost, for we rely on the wisdom and guidance of the Spirit as we discern the needs of our monastic community. We also ask for your prayers as all of our sisters, from prioress to novice, travel home to discuss the “important business [that] has to be done in the monastery” (Rule of Benedict 3:1).
Whenever any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and state the matter to be acted upon. Then, having heard the brethren’s advice, let him turn the matter over in his own mind and do what he shall judge to be most expedient. The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.Let the brethren give their advice with all the deference required by humility, and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions; but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot’s judgment, and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare. However, just as it is proper for the disciples to obey their master, so also it is his function to dispose all things with prudence and justice (Rule of Benedict 3).
Sister Maribeth, do you promise to encourage your sisters to love God, to live the Gospel, and to observe the Rule of Benedict?
Sister Maribeth, are you resolved to encourage your sisters to be faithful to the traditions of the monastic way of life by example as well as by words?
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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!