Thursday, October 27, 2011

St. Paul meets St. Benedict

Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Benedict of Nursia lived very different lives. And historically speaking, they could not have met since they lived centuries apart. After Saint Paul's conversion, he proclaimed the Gospel by traveling far and wide. He was martyred in Rome. Saint Benedict on the other hand lived as a hermit in a cave for three years before becoming abbott of twelve monasteries in Subiaco (south of Rome). Both of them are great models of holiness and have changed the world by following the footsteps of Jesus each in their unique way of life.

St. Paul's motto: "that Christ may live in me" and St. Benedict's: "to welcome each person as Christ" are very  complementary. And I believe every Christian already embody both of these spiritualities in varying degrees and we are called to both in different ways.

Through the years, their legacy have been carried on by many religious communities. Two of which happen to be in the state of Missouri: The Daughters of St. Paul community in St. Louis and The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde.

So why am I blogging about this? I have a good reason, I promise. ;-)

Cheryl, Erma & Sr. Maria Victoria
When I (Cheryl) started discerning religious life, my housemate and bestfriend, Erma, supported me by helping me look at different religious communities. And so when I came home from a 10 day live-in experience with the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, Erma was eager to show me some websites of other communities that she thought I should check out. One of them was the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde. She was so impressed by them and I sensed that she might be interested in checking them out herself! And after a few months, she did visit them for 5 days of retreat and monastic experience. I almost didn't recognize her when she came back! I mean, she was so full of joy telling me all that had transpired in those 5 days. And that she wanted to visit them again as soon as possible!

Pause. Fast forward...

In August 2010, Erma entered the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (in Tucson, Arizona) while their Clyde Monastery was undergoing renovations. That same month, I entered the Daughters of St. Paul here in St. Louis.

This summer, Erma moved to Clyde to continue her formation there. And so when I found out that our postulant community will be attending the Catholic New Media Conference in Kansas City, I went on Google maps to check how far the Clyde Monastery is to our conference venue. It was almost 2 hours away, close enough to make a quick visit!

We arrived at the Benedictine Monastery just in time for lunch! Erma and a small group of the Benedictine nuns welcomed us and joined us for lunch. Then we had a tour of their Altar Bread department, the Soap department, and their grounds via golf cars. Some of us even paddled around their pond. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was such a blessing that my sisters got to meet Erma and her sisters. Even though we could only stay for a couple of hours, it was all worth it!

Sr. Ruth and Sr. Rebecca
Even in today's day and age, where we have Facebook and Facetime, most of us (and I want to say all of us) would still prefer a "real" visit; just like the Incarnation, Jesus - the Word of God made flesh. He came to visit us and then sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us while He prepares a place for us in heaven.

Our visit to the Benedictine Monastery made me see more profoundly how our Church is really one big family; God's family. And while we are all united in prayer and through our Eucharistic Lord, nothing can be compared to seeing each other face-to-face. This includes all who have gone ahead of us to our heavenly home. As a postulant and future religious, I feel an ever growing desire to see Jesus face-to-face. Some days, I find myself in tears not knowing when this time will come. Thankfully, other days it brings me hope and joy. St. Paul and St. Benedict never met on earth but they now enjoy their face-to-face visits in heaven. And once in a while, my guess is that they conspire with God to set up visits for those of us who follow in their footsteps here on earth.

Benedictine Monastery

"You, yes you, O Lord, my God, have done many wondrous deeds! And in your plans for us there is none to equal you." 
Psalm 40:6a

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