Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

“In Chase of the Invisible Rabbit”

April 8, 2013

Yesterday, April 6, 2013, we had the privilege of having Sr. Karen Joseph, OSB speak at our Tri-Community Meeting consisting of  Benedictine Sisters from Bristow, VA; Lutherville, MD; and Ridgely, MD who hosted this event for over sixty Sisters. The topic of interest was about being a Benedictine Sister in North America in the 21st Century. The provocative questions included: Who will we be serving in our ministries in the 21st Century; What choices will make the Benedictine Way of Life continue; What are the real needs of the people today;?

         

In the maturation process of the Benedictine Order that has lasted for more than 1500 years, a change in European thinking which stemmed from repression, gave way to new insight in having Sisters come from Bavaria to America.

 

The first Benedictine convent in the United States was established in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, in 1852. The founding nuns, Mother Benedicta Riepp and her two companions, originated from St. Walburga Abbey in Eichstatt, Bavaria. They came at the invitation of Father Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., to bring Benedictinism for women to America and also teach the children of the German immigrants. In succeeding years their mission expanded to include hospital care and other works. The community formed more branches over the years, so that today over fifty Benedictine monasteries in America and beyond can trace their roots to St. Marys.

 

Sr. Karen told us that “our new renewal process is NOW, we are still pioneers NOW, and what does the Rule call us to NOW?”  Sister states that “our goal is our desire for God. Our daily remembrance of God is always primary.” She told us that what is very distinctive is to be in the “School of the Lord’s Service;” a school from which we never graduate…it is in this school, created by St. Benedict for us that we work out our growth and holiness together. St. Benedict’s journey led him to grow in his own knowledge and values; and so must we.

According to Sr. Karen, in living Benedict’s values, it places us into a countercultural lifestyle (opposite of the world’s lifestyle) whereby we are seeking God, we listen, we are of service to others, we care, our lives are simplistic, we share of ourselves, and we respect everything on earth. Change must begin in our hearts before we can change as a group. We can then make choices to counteract what the world wants. Benedict re-ordered his world by his conversatio. A cenobite lives his/her life in common with Community. Cenobites are present to one another; it is the daily rubbing of elbows with one another where we develop a cenobitic rhythm of living the Rule of Benedict.

 

In Edward Hays’ book: In Pursuit of the Great White Rabbit, Hays asks us to ponder these questions:

~ Why do some people live their whole lives in a dynamic religious search while others never begin?

~ Why do some people begin with enthusiasm but abandon the quest after a period of time?

~ Why do some continue their prayer and meditation but reach a point where they stop growing, overcome by the burdens of daily life?

 

Hays states that these are universal personal quandaries, reflected on by people of all creeds over the ages. Edward Hays now begins to give answer to these questions which comes to us from this story from the early Christian hermits in the deserts of Egypt:

 

“It seems that a young aspirant to holiness once came to visit the hermitage of an old holy man who was sitting in the doorway of his quarters at sunset. The old man’s dog stretched out across the threshold as the young spiritual seeker presented his problem to the holy man.

“Why is it, Abba that some who seek God, come to the desert and are zealous in prayer but leave after a year or so, while others, like you, remain faithful to the quest for a lifetime?” The old man smiled and replied, “Let me tell you a story…”(and this is the story that Sr. Karen told us yesterday):

 

“One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, barking loudly, took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion. Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by their barking. What a sight it was, as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit.”

 

“In this story young man, is the answer to your question.”

 

“Finally, he said, ‘Abba, I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for holiness?’ ‘You fail to understand,’ answered the old hermit, ‘because you failed to ask the obvious question. Why didn’t the other dogs continue on the chase? And the answer to the question is that they had not seen the rabbit. Unless you see your prey, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to perform all of the hard work required by the discipline of your spiritual exercises.’”

 

This story is a prerequisite for the spiritual journey: you must see the Rabbit! According to Hays, “If we do not have a real experience of the Divine Mercy in some form, we will lack the energy necessary to keep up the pursuit for holiness. Like the dogs in the story, we will drop out of the race if we only follow the saints and mystics who have seen the Rabbit. If we are only caught up in the enthusiasm of others, we will fail to be constant in our search.” The Rabbit is God!

 

Sr. Karen told a story about a rabbit. As she stated, “it is the Easter Season and the season for rabbits.” But this story is applicable in any season because we are always in search of God. We must always have our focus and vision on the Rabbit…God.

 

The Benedictine Sisters from Eichstatt, Bavaria saw the Rabbit and pursued coming to North America. Those who have kept their eyes on the Rabbit are still seeking God today. He is our goal, our hope, and our eternity!

 

My Song du jour:    Lord of the Dance

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be

I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the Pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced on a
Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

 

“That in all things God may be glorified”

Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB

Art: taken from:  www.skyartstudio.com/cpg/displayimage.php.

Lyrics: Lord of the Dance written by Sydney Carter

 

 

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