"Life is a journey we travel together, walking hand in hand with our sisters
and brothers. "
-- From the song "Life Is
The Benedictine Monks of
Highlights From the Spring/Summer 2000 Bulletin
Life Together in One Heart Chronicle
BULLETIN TABLE OF CONTENTS
As we send you this issue of the Bulletin, the memory of Pentecost is still
fresh. The images in our prayer -- fire blazing, wind rushing, water flowing --
give voice to our manifold experiences of God's own life touching us: the Holy
Spirit poured out over all creation, permeating all things, as the loving bond
"in whom we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17.28).
The rich poetry of Pentecost, bringing our Easter celebration to a close
with flourisb and fanfare,
might deceive us, though, into thinking that it is the dramatic and the
ordinary that count.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus washed his disciples' feet so that we might know that the Reign of God is
Benedict wrote the Rule to encourage us to grow in humanity and holiness
of life together.
Centuries later, Ignatius accompanied searching men and women in finding God
in all things.
The great tradition tells us that we will discover the truth of Pentecost --
the living water, the Breath of divine freshness -- in the ordinary, or not at
This is a necessary preface, as we share with you some wonderful moments in our
community life in the past months.
Unspoken here are the daily rhythms of prayer; the labor of community meetings;
the responsibilities and creativity of work, study, and classes; the daily
housechores; time for recreation and rest; the calls to forgiveness and
These are the threads that support the
ordinary moments of our lives.
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January 2000: Sharing a Living Faith
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February 2000: The Benedictine Charism in the World
Mexico - Nicaragua
Each year, our entire community travels to Mexico to share for two weeks in the
life of our Benedictine sisters. (See opening article, Por los caminos de
América.) We arrived in Mexico City in early February, spending the first days
with the local community at the sisters' Casa Central (or Motherhouse) near the
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The life of the sisters' congregation continues to flourish as they serve the
poorest sectors of Mexican society, and extend their ministry to the peoples of
Brazil, the United States, and Nicaragua. The sisters' presence in Nicaragua
continues to bear fruit, including the entrance of young Nicaraguan women into
the congregation, and the establishment of a novitiate in Managua. We had the
special delight of enjoying the presence of the Nicaraguan novices, who were in
Mexico City during our visit. We were also privileged to participate in the
First Monastic Profession of two young sisters - one an indigenous Mexican, and
the other a Nicaraguan.
"They are our children"
Despite being the world's largest metropolis, Mexico City shares with all other
Third World cities an exponential growth in population, joined with
unemployment and the lack of basic human services. A symptom of the deepening
economic crisis is the increase in violence and drug use in the cities.The
incidence of HIV infection, leading to AIDS, is likewise growing rapidly. In
Mexico, as in much of the Two-Thirds World, the fastest growing population of
HIV-infected persons are women and children. Yet in a city so large as Mexico's
capital, there is no adequate way to gauge realistically the number of children
and adults infected.There are, likewise, next to no health services for those
who suffer from the virus and its effects. The unreachable costs of treatment,
and the still-prevalent social stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, complicate the
situation even further.
Meeting of Monastic Leaders
But hope appears - in women and men who refuse to give up hope, in people who
come together to create a way, especially when there seems to be no way. The
staff at Casa de la Sal are such persons, in whom we discovered hope incarnate
After discovering that a friend of hers had died from the AIDS disease, Dr.
Rosa María Rivero Velasco, M.D., devoted the last years of her life to the care
of persons suffering from the disease. Aware that there were no AlDS-related
services of any kind, she opened a clandestine house to care for abandoned,
infected children. Once the nature of her hospice was discovered, neighbors
forced her to flee with the children. Eventually another house was found, where
20 children are now cared for by a staff of volunteers: housewives,
nurses, psychologists, doctors. Three of our Benedictine sisters are volunteers
at the house, and they invited us to meet the children, the volunteers, and
the support staff. One volunteer, herself a mother with her own family
remarked,"Well, they are all our children, aren't they?"
The monastic leaders of the Benedictine communities of men and women in North
America, Central America, and the Caribbean held their joint meeting at
the Abbey of Tepeyac, just outside of Mexico City. The dates of this meeting of
abbots, priors, and prioresses coincided with our visit to Mexico, making it
possible for a small group of them to spend a few days with the Mexican sisters
and with us at our Centro Guadalupe in Cuernavaca: Father Martin Boler, OSB,
prior, Mount Saviour Monastery, Pine City, New York; Sister Josetta Grant, OSB,
prioress, Osage Monastery, Sand Springs, Oklahoma; Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB,
Subiaco Abbey, Subiaco, Arkansas; Sister Mary Jane Romero, OSB, prioress
general, Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, St. Louis, Missouri;
Sister Veronica Ryan, OSB, prioress, Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, Alabama;
Sister Laura Swan, OSB, prioress, Saint Placid Priory, Lacey, Washington; and
Sister Mary Zenzen, OSB, prioress, Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, Ogden, Utah.
We thank God for the bonds that were forged during those days. In the context
of prayer and reflection, we encountered the Christ hidden in the suffering and
hope of our poorest sisters and brothers.
Following the meeting at Tepeyac, which Brother Richard attended, we welcomed
all of the Benedictine prioresses for a day of exchange.
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March 2000: Creating an Environment of Peace
Thomas Berry, C.P.
Since last year, the town of Weston has been home to two monastic communities.
While our monastery was founded almost 50 years ago, the town has also
welcomed a small Passionist monastery, a community of women fashioning a
monastic life dedicated to the healing of the Earth. The kindness of the
Passionist sisters made possible a morning of reflection with the ecological
theologian, Thomas Berry, C.P., author of The Dream of the Earth and The Great
Partners in Offering Hospitality
From the earliest days of the church, the welcoming of guests has been a
central value and practice in monastic communities. It is simply the echo of
the Gospel's call, reverberating in the lives of succeeding generations. In
fact, Benedict was confident that the monks would indeed meet the living
Christ in those who come to the community's doors and table.This has surely
been the experience of our community. The presence of so many women and men
sharing in our common prayer, in the silence and reflectiveness of the priory
and in the daily rhythm of our life, reminds us that we are indeed partners on
a common Journey. Every guest, each visitor, comes with his or her own thirst
and searching, and our community is challenged and enriched.
Extending hospitality here at Weston Priory involves the gifts of many: the
community of brothers, to be sure, but also the hearts and hands and human
sensitivity of a large group of men and women. Without them, we could not
welcome as many persons as we do. For each of them and for their service - in
kitchen, office, Gallery Shop, guesthouses, parking lot - we are deeply grateful.
A weekend of reflection and prayer in mid-March was a tangible celebration of
the Benedictine values that unite us.
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April 2000: Toward a New Self-Understanding
During Easter week, we welcomed the visit of Krister and Brita Stendahl for a
few days of reflection and exchange. In our very stimulating conversations, we
spoke together about the urgent necessity of a new Christian
self-understanding in relation to the Jewish People, the people of the
(Dr. Krister Stendahl is internationally known for his New Testament
scholarship and for his leadership in Jewish-Christian relations. He served as
professor and, later, dean at Harvard Divinity School. He was elected bishop of
Stockholm in the Church of Sweden.) The visit of the Stendahls culminated with
their participation in our observance of Yom HaShoah (the Day of Memorial of
the Holocaust, or the "Destruction") on the Second Sunday of Easter.
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May 2000: Creating an Environment of Encounter
Psychotherapy and Spirituality
We continued to enjoy opportunities for fruitful dialogue during the month of
May. Halley Sauseville Lovett, a psychologist and therapist from Washington,
D.C., facilitated a very stimulating discussion on the relationship of
psychology and spirituality in the search for meaning, together with three of
her colleagues, MaryAnn Pollock Dubner, Rosemarie Anastaslo Segalla, and Joyce
Gorelick Lowenstein. Halley and her husband Ray have been friends of the
community for many years, since their days in Vermont. We thank them all for
making this time of encounter possible.
Monastic Practices, East & West
Monks and nuns from Maple Forest Monastery (the Buddhist community established
in Vermont by the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh) came to the priory for a
day in mid-May. Ever since the beginning of the sangha near Woodstock, our
communities have gathered together for a day of sharing twice a year. On this
occasion, the day-to-day challenges of community living were the focus of our
discussions. Our Buddhist brothers and sisters participated in Midday Prayer,
during which they offered their chant.
Seventeen Years of Exile
Felipe and Elena Ixcot, refugees from Guatemala, have lived in sanctuary here
at the priory for more than 16 years. Their daughters and son are now grown.
The Ixcot family has become so much a part of our everyday life that it is
easy to forget that these have been years of exile, of separation, and of
longing. But Elena and Felipe have not forgotten. As the years have passed, so
their commitment to their homeland has grown and deepened. And the dream of a
At the end of May, Felipe and Elena presented slides of their first visit to
Guatemala in 17 years, in March and April 1999, and spoke of the continuing situation of danger and violence in that country. We join with them in longing and working for the day of peace, the day of return, that the psalmist spoke
about: "When from our exile God brings us home, it will seem like a dream" (Ps. 126).
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The Monks of Weston Priory
58 Priory Hill Road, Weston, VT 05161-6400
Tel.: 802-824-5409; Fax: 802-824-3573