Friday, March 25, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: SPRING!

Happy Easter everyone!  We are starting my favorite time of the year….spring!  I just love rolling on the grass and being outside a lot of the time.  I think people do too because there are plenty of them walking past our house especially on very nice days. Just the feeling of new things springing up really is such a happy feeling.  Sr. Monica looks up in the trees for the singing birds when we go for walks and tries to point them out to me, but to tell the truth, I’m not very interested in birds when they are singing, only when they are on the ground so I can chase them around!

I hope everyone takes this time of new beginnings, starting with Easter and moving into spring to give thanks for everything we have.  I know the Sisters will want me to tell you all that they are praying for you.  You know sometimes people just say “I’ll pray for you”, but the Sisters really do pray for everyone who asks them.  They even have this book that I saw in the back of the chapel where they write it down when someone asks them for prayers!  So, if you are reading this you can go right to the website of the Sisters and ask them for prayers.  I even saw on Sr. K’s computer that there is a place where you can light a candle!  Try it out!

Until next time this is Abby in the Abbey signing off.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Seven Last Words of Jesus

Keep Watch with Me: The Seven Last Words of Jesus 

By Sr. Inviolata Mukhaabi, OSB

Father, Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do (Luke 23:34)
Who are "THEM"? I look at Jesus hanging on the cross, at the point of death, and saying "Father, Forgive THEM"  and I wonder who he is actually referring to. Those soldiers crucifying him? Sure. The crowds standing by jeering? Indeed. The disciples who ran away and left him alone? Of course! Does that include Peter, who denied him three times? You bet. What about Judas the traitor? Was he forgiven in that single prayer? YES, Jesus forgave Judas. But in some way we were all represented in those categories of people who played a part in putting Jesus on the cross... He forgave us too. Let us not give up as Judas did. Jesus pays our debts on the cross, and forgives all our sins, deliberate or otherwise. Let us give Him a chance to touch and forgive us. "Never despair of God's mercy." (Rule of Benedict 4:74)

Amen I Say to You, This Day You Will Be With Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)

The Kingdom of God belongs to rich and poor alike, the aristocrats and the commoners alike, the saints and sinners alike. No one is excluded from the Kingdom of God; that is , NO ONE who dares to ask to be remembered by Jesus. All the Thief dared to ask was a memory of him; he received something much better: the assurance of Paradise. When we look at Jesus Crucified, let us see what the Thief saw: Lord and King. Even Crucified, God is not powerless; in fact His power to save is greater when he hangs suspended between heaven and earth. Don't lose hope, regardless of what you have done or been accused of doing, Paradise is opened by the Crucified Lord. Just ask.
Woman, Behold Your Son; Son, Behold Your Mother (John 19:26)
"I will not leave you orphans," Jesus said to His disciples. Hanging on the Cross, he keeps that promise. He gives them over to the care of His Blessed Mother. Knowing they will need her strength and faith to deal with his death and the days ahead, Jesus gives His Mother to the disciples. Like the disciples, we need the strength and the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to understand Jesus, follow Him, and still believe in Him, especially when faced with the spectacle of the Cross. Let us then, turn to Mary our Mother and ask her to pray for us; let us ask her to walk with us; let us ask her to help us see and love Jesus as she does.

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46)
Have you ever felt alone and forsaken, and just at the moment when you would really have used company and support? Well, the Lord, hanging on the cross apparently felt that way. However, He also felt a sense of Hope and trust. When you read Psalm 22, which begins with those words' "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" you realize that it was both a plea for help and an expression of confidence and hope. When we feel abandoned and alone, let us remember that we have a Savior who knows what that feels like; let us then go to him in our loneliness and ask him to keep us company in our hour of need.
I thirst (John 19:28)
I agree with all those who see in this plea of Jesus a spiritual longing. However, I also agree with those who basically see it as it was: an expression of a physical need of a crucified Man. In those words of Jesus we hear the need of those who lack bare necessities of life like water and food; we hear the longing of those who are helpless and are hoping that someone(you or me) will hearken to their aid. Of course we hear the spiritual longing in the Crucified Savior as he longs to share in our life. He is thirsting for your life and mine, hoping that we can offer him a drink from our life to quench his spiritual thirst. Will we heed the Lord's need? What will we offer Him? Cheap wine? Vinegar? Or a heart contrite and humbled.
It Is Finished (John 19:30)
In these three words is a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Jesus has done all he came to do. In the Garden, he prayed to be spared, but the Father's will was that he should drink the cup of suffering. Hanging on the cross, at the point of death, the Obedient Son has carried out His Father's will, and all that remains is to trust that the Father knows what comes next. In these three words we can find our own sense of finality. When we have done all we could do, we can be like Jesus and trust that God has the plan and the map, and He knows the next step.
Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit (Luke 23:46)

The entire life of Jesus, from incarnation to the death on the cross has been one act of surrender. "My food is to do the will of My Father," "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many," "Let it be as you will it," are all examples of Jesus' selfless life, a total giving of self to carry out the mission of redemption. With his final breath, all he has left is to surrender the breath of life - his spirit - into the hands of His Father. May this be our inspiration and our source of strength as we seek to give of ourselves to God's mission.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

130th Jubilee of the Congregation and the Year of Consecrated Life: Benedict House - Tutzing, Germany

 In 2016, we look back upon 130 years of our history, with more than 1300 women living as Missionary Benedictine Sisters. Over the months, we will bring to you the histories of our Priories and Sisters across the World.

Benedict House - Tutzing, Germany
For some time the Leadership of our Congregation had recognized the need of founding a home for old and sick German Missionaries that wished to return to their homeland or could not be cared for in their mission countries. In addition, political developments in some countries made the return of German missionaries advisable.
Therefore, during the 1976 general chapter it was decided to find a suitable place for such a home,
since the Tutzing Motherhouse did not have sufficient space.
The generosity of a Tutzing citizen, Mrs. Johanna Schwamm, provided the answer.  She bequeathed to the Congregation her considerable property with a picturesque pond at today’s Benediktenweg in Tutzing, exactly right for this purpose.
On March 19, 1979 the ground-breaking  was performed by Mrs. Schwamm, Prioress eneral M. Gertrud Link, Sr. Maria Froning, then prioress of the Motherhouse,  Sr. Christiana König and other sisters.
Already on August 15,  1980, the new building for the old and sick missionaries, “Haus St. Benedikt” was opened and blessed, all government regulations having been observed.   It is a beautiful building in a wonderful environment!
 The present superior of the community,  Sr. Chantal Gerster, had served as a missionary in Korea and also as general councilor in Rome.                                                                                                           
Haus St. Benedikt“  is part of the Generalate District. In the 35 years of its existence, 82 sisters from all our mission countries have lived in this Haus St. Benedikt  and were lovingly cared for until God called them home.
Today Haus St. Benedikt is fully occupied with 33 missionaries.  Former Abbot Theobald Schmid, OSB after 15 years of spiritual service in our house, had to return to St. Ottilien for reasons of age.  Fr. Philipp Maucher, OSB is now caring for the sisters as chaplain.
All the sisters still able to do some services are helping with tasks in house and garden.  For many years the periodical “Kontinente” was edited in Haus St. Benedikt, and also the first website of the Congregation in three languages was developed and edited here.  At this time one sister is giving pastoral care to old people in a home at nearby Garatshausen and another sister gives German lessons to refugees.
However the most important task for all the sisters is their personal prayer and the prayer in Choir, where as true missionaries they bring the concerns and needs of our world and our church before God, including especially the people that  had been entrusted to their care  for many years.

Ten Filipinas who have joined the community as oblates are caring lovingly for the old and sick sisters in house, kitchen and infirmary.  They remain in Germany for some years, then return to their homeland and their families.  Especially during celebrations, they give joy to the sisters by their presentations and native dances.

Even two former prioresses general spent the last years of their life in Haus St. Benedikt:  Mother Gertrud Link (+1990) and Mother Edeltrud Weist (+2012).
Since May 24, 2011, the offices of our Congregation’s Mission Procure have been located in “Haus Schwamm” on our grounds. As a place of contact with the sisters and the churches of the entire world, the Mission Procure has manifold tasks. It gives not only financial assistance, but serves also by more and more meetings and contacts with the whole world.


The sisters and employees aim to bring treasures and the needs of the young churches close to the people here in Germany. They remind them of their missionary co-responsibility as Christians and strengthen this awareness.

Finally one can call the Haus St. Benedikt as “Thanksgiving-House”, in which the harvest of many and fruitful missionary service is bundled and brought into God’s eternal dwellings.
Willligis Jäger, a spiritual author of our time, wrote:
“Old age offers to us the last chance for human maturity.  It is a decisive phase of life, an offer to grow still more and to embrace everything in life. Now it is important to complete our birth, because we are still in developing!”

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Gabrielle Marie Oestreich, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)


Born: Lansing, Michigan
First Profession: August 2, 1997
Final Profession: February 10, 2001
Feast Day: March 25
Mission Experience: Philippines, USA
The question of why I became a Missionary Benedictine Sister always seems to arise, especially if someone knows my background.  Why after a successful career as an officer in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel, would I “give up everything” to enter a monastic community?  And the next question (usually from the men) is “what happens to your retirement pay?”  Of course the answers are both simple and complex.  Simple:  God called me here!  Complex: There has always been a deep desire to serve God as a missionary – to spread the Good News of Jesus far and wide.  It began as an awareness as a young girl and went through many stages of acknowledgement and denial as I went from childhood through adulthood.  There was always an unfulfilled yearning – a voice of ‘Come follow me’ – that I could never satisfy with all the success and comforts of the world.  God definitely led me to this community – to these my fellow sisters – to walk the remainder of this life’s journey to Him in this way of life.
It would be difficult to identify which specific experience has been most rewarding as a sister – there have been so many.  However, I would have to say working in the parish as Director of Adult Formation and similarly as Novice Director.  Both jobs have allowed me to journey with others in their quest for God.  Both experiences have been tremendous privileges to observe God’s grace at work ‘close up and personal’.
 Were there challenges?  Of course! There still are.  Adjusting to community life after being extremely independent and self-reliant has and continues to stretch me.  I believe one significant challenge has been the difference in which community decisions are made and actions taken.  My background formed me to be a person to quickly analyze the challenges we face, look at a variety of options, make the decision on a specific course and act.  This series of actions was quick and decisive.   Projects, challenges, etc.  are addressed – handled - and then forgotten.   Community decisions are approached much differently.  All members’ opinions are sought and mutual decisions made.  When one considers that not everyone in a group processes information or makes decisions at the same speed, you can understand how frustrating it may be to keep revisiting the issues/options until all members are ready to make a final decision.  This is never an exercise in efficiency – but normally takes 2-3 times as long to bring the entire community to the point of consensus.  This challenge of course has graced me with renewed patience – at times.  It’s always in God’s time – not mine!
For those discerning a commitment to religious life I would say – listen to your heart… God is speaking in a whisper and will never lead you astray.