May 2021 – A Letter from Pastor Lori

    I had the pleasure and honor to spend a week with Joan Chittister at the 2 year spiritual formation academy in Schuyler Nebraska at the St Benedict center. Joan Chittister entered the Benedictine Sisters of Erie at the age of 16 and has remained a faithful and instrumental member for over 60 years. As a young student in Rome, Benedict tired of the decadent culture around and resolved to change the system not by confronting it, but by positing an alternative. Benedict simply refused to become what such a system modeled and began living otherwise, refusing to accept the moral standard around him and forming other people into organized communities to do the same. His communities outlawed slavery where they were, devoted themselves to the sharing of goods; committed themselves to the care of the earth and vowed to grow together into full humanity and stable, productive communities through a daily rhythm of prayer, work, love, forgiveness and reconciliation.   

    Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, in her commentary on The Rule of Benedict, writes:

“Benedict does not believe that the simple reading or study of spiritual literature is      sufficient. He tells us to keep this Rule, its values, its concepts, its insights.  It is not what we read, he implies; it what we become that counts.”

Every major religious tradition, says Chittister, calls for a change of heart, a change of life, “rather than for simply an analysis of its literature.” The Jewish Hasidim, for instance, tell the story of the disciple who said to the teacher,

“Teacher, I have gone completely through the Torah. What must I do now?”

The teacher replied, “Oh, my friend, the question is not, Have you gone through the Torah?

The question is, Has the Torah gone through you?”[1]

     Habits shape us from the inside out—for good or for ill. We need a community to help us dwell in habits that shape us toward the good, that help us discover and remain connected to the triune God. , During those times when we sheep are surrounded and vastly outnumbered by wolves.  We follow Christ, in spite of our weakness, in the face of all that the world throws at us, Christ wins.  This is the meaning of the cross and resurrection.  Christ finds us even in our failure and grafts us back to him and leads us home.  We are never beyond the reach of the Risen One!  Death has no power over us when we abide with him.  Yes, we lose our way; life prunes us.  So this changing of seasons let us be reminded of the healthy habits of serving God, loving God and being loved by God. 

In Christ’s service

 

Pastor Lori Stevens

 

[1] Joan Chittister. The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century.  (New York: Crossroad, 2010) pages 302, 303.