The Evolving Call of a Benedictine Sister
O God help me to believe
the truth about myself --
no matter how beautiful it is!
-- Macrina Wiedekehr
Claim Your Inner Littleness
"Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, author of the popular A Tree Full of Angels (HarperCollins) and Seven Sacred Pauses (Ave Maria), is well known for her creative spiritual writings and retreat ministry. She has lived monastic life for fifty years and makes her home with the Sisters of St. Scholastica, a Benedictine monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Writing and retreat ministry have become a part of her evolving call."
Those of us in the world of open and relational (process) theology well understand the idea of an evolving call. We believe that the whole universe is held in the sky-like womb of a spacious heart whom we name God. We believe that the One in whose heart we live and move and have our being is a mysterious Love who perpetually beckons us to become fully ourselves, in our fragility and beauty. We know that we fall short of this Love all the time, and that Lord of the universe is a God of a million second chances. We know that sometimes God strains for us and we strain for God in mutual yearning. And we know that we find God in the wisdom school of daily life, the ebb and flow of the seasons, the face of the stranger and the landscape of the fields. That's why Macrina is our soulmate and why we are happy to have her as part of the family of friends.
Hear this passage: "“All too often we bemoan our imperfections rather than embrace them as part of the process in which we are brought to God. Cherished emptiness gives God space in which to work. We are pure capacity for God. Let us not, then, take our littleness lightly. It is a wonderful grace. It is a gift to receive. At the same time, let us not get trapped in the confines of our littleness, but keep pushing on to claim our greatness. Remind yourself often, “I am pure capacity for God; I can be more.”
This is open and relational theology, Benedictine-style. Let there be more and more. Enjoy many other quotations below.
-- Jay McDaniel
Macrina in her own words
"Although my academic background is in elementary and religious education, my best learning flows from the wisdom school of daily life. My finest teachers are my daily companions and the larger global community. I also meet teachers in the pages of the books I read. I have drunk liberally from the springs of creation and find healing in the seasons that pass through our lives and over our fields. My deep country roots and childhood memories of working in the vineyards on our farm in Altus, Arkansas have had a lasting impact on my life. '
- Macrina Wiedekehr
The main ministry of Benedictines
"Our main ministry is to seek God in the way of St. Benedict. We live out our Benedictine Values by serving God and the world in a variety of ministries. Such ministries include education, retreat ministry, spiritual direction, administration, nursing, pastoral ministry, prison ministry, Hispanic ministry, social justice, gift shop, counseling, visiting the elderly and infirm. Other ministries include artisans, musicians, authors, and computer programmers. By our Benedictine heritage of hospitality, we strive to embrace any and all gifts and talents of the members."
A Benedictine in the making
Imagine Alice, a college student majoring in creative writing. She loves acting, laughing, eating, singing, and helping others. She is a Christian who wants to walk in love as Christ walked in love.
She feels a tug in her heart to serve God with the whole of her life, in a way that moves past having a family of her own. She wants to take her life energy, turn it into love energy, and give it to God.
She is considering becoming a Benedictine sister. I see her walking the halls, praying with the sisters, reading everything she can.
Someone asks if becoming a sister might not stifle her love of life, her sense of mystery, her love of questioning, her honesty. "Won't it close you off?," says her friend.
She says, "No, I think it will open me up."
-- Jay McDaniel
More Quotations from Macrina Wiedekehr
Actually I don't like sides and I don't feel at home on either side. I think I am still trying to find my tribe. All I know is that it must not be filled with hate for the other side. I pray for greater maturity.
We are all acquainted with demons, aren't we? Sometimes they are more subtle than the Devil in person. They are those things that clutch at us, strangle us, force us to obey them. They control us with great delight, and finally they own us. Demons are certainly as much around today as they were in Jesus' day. They are more subtle, perhaps, and so we think we have outgrown them. Because we call them by other names, we have a way of missing them. But there is still a great force surrounding us that tries to push us into what is not of God.
I strain toward God; God strains toward me. I ache for God; God aches for me. Prayer is mutual yearning, mutual straining, mutual aching.
Receive the storm that repentance brings. Let the holy winds toss you to and fro. You will be awakened to new depths as you wrestle with the life forces within. What seems like violence at first will lead you gently into the eye of God where all is calm and quiet, like the eye of a hurricane.
O Shepherd God, companion me on all the journeys of my life. Dance through the darkness with me.
Giving yourself up o love is melting into God. It is falling into the hands of the living God with complete abandon. This is the deep, interior prayer for which we have been striving. Here we must let go of our dependency on thoughts, words, and images. We go into the beautiful darkness. We stop struggling. We let the angels carry us. Surrender is the only word we know.
Sometimes we keep the sin in our lives well protected, guarded, covered over with lies. Sometimes we are not free enough to own our sin, so we cannot be healed of it. An unacknowledged wound cannot be healed.
My grief was like a mountain that hid all of heaven from me.
When you love someone
Weaving in and out of lives
In our search for the holy, there are times when our restless preparations smother the very truth for which are searching. We decorate our rooms and make elaborate preparations for our prayer, when a single flower and a moment of waiting are all we need to meed the One Who Comes.
Silence is like a river of grace inviting us to leap unafraid into its beckoning depths. It is dark and mysterious in the waters of grace. Yet in the silent darkness we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine we can see more clearly who we are. We are renewed and cleansed in this river of silence. There are those among you who fear the Great Silence. It is a foreign land to you. Sometimes it is good to leap into the unknown. Practice leaping
It is risky to trust. I may give someone my heart, and they may leave town with it.
Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves