Every year on October 12 the holy oil from Saint Walburga’s tomb in Germany begins to flow, and it continues until her Feast Day on February 25. Due to the testimonies of many people who have experienced God’s healing power after anointing themselves with the oil and asking Saint Walburga to pray for them, it seems that this quote from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux may also be applied to our patroness:
On September 11, the eve of the day on which the Church commemorates the “Holy Name of Mary,” our Sister Mary was clothed with the Benedictine habit. What a glorious day it was!
Two days later, a wildfire broke out from a lightning strike on our neighbor’s land, and we spent the day preparing to evacuate. Thankfully, due to the amazing fire fighting squad (on foot and in the air), who worked tirelessly through the night, we were able to safely stay in our monastery. We were also blessed by many friends and oblates who reached out to check on us and let us know that we could stay with them if we needed to leave. Praise the Lord for surrounding us with so many good people!
It was a great gift that we did not have to evacuate, because Sister Assunta’s Vow Renewal was set to take place on the next day, September 14, The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. After six years here, she has now renewed her vows for another year, bringing her one step closer to her Solemn Profession.
In honor of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrated this month, one of our Sisters wrote this reflection:
A Rock Beneath the Cross
You have said To plant in fertile ground With rich, nutritious soil, In order to take root And bear fruit; But then You go and Contradict Yourself, Because I’ve seen Trees growing out of rocks, For nothing is impossible For You… And it’s a good thing, too, Because I am like that rock, Stony, hard, unloving, Critical, rigid, cold, But still You give me hope That if I only keep saying, “I only want You, And to love like You,” Then You will accomplish A miracle in me, And a tree will grow From this rock… And I think of Moses Striking the rock, And water pouring forth, Just like You were struck By me on the Cross, And blood and water Poured out love and mercy Upon this very rock Who struck You… So there is hope For this heart of stone, Because beneath your Cross, Watered by Your blood, Anything is possible, And even a fruit-bearing tree Can grow.
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
On August 15, 2021, The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Sister Maria-Raphaelle and Sister Fidelis made their solemn profession of monastic vows. The Holy Mass was presided over by The Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, who delivered an eloquent homily about his “dear daughters” being the salt and light of the world, in imitation of the Blessed Mother. It was a day of great rejoicing, and a blessing for our community.
Click here to read more on the Denver Catholic website
This motet, “Desidero mi Jesu,” composed by Kevin Allen, was performed by three of our Sisters on the Solemnity of St. Benedict, July 11.
Between battling the weeds, caring for the cattle, and tending the gardens, summer tends to be a busy season for us; but because of our monastic horarium that provides sacred time for prayer, the balance of “ora et labora” keeps our priorities in check.
The blizzard that came upon us brought with it about 3 inches of precipitation. In 2020 we only received 10 inches over the course of the whole year, so this snow was a huge blessing.
Our Sister Maria renewed her vows for another year on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It was a grace-filled day for her and the whole community.
The Guest Wing of our Abbey is now open again! Click here for more information.
One of our Sisters shares an experience she had before entering our community which gave her a foretaste of her future life as a Benedictine nun, though she did not know it at the time:
I was finishing up a day’s work at the hospital when the word was passed around the nurse’s station: “Rachel is going to go home on hospice this week.” The news wasn’t surprising; Rachel, one of our dear patients in her late teens, had spent a lot of time on our floor over the last couple of years, and her medical condition had gotten much worse recently. After I completed my shift, I walked down the hall and knocked on Rachel’s door. I wasn’t in such a peppy mood myself that autumn. The gentleman I had been dating had unexpectedly broken up with me a few months before, and I found myself unable to leave behind the deep sadness I was still feeling. But that night I knew I had to say goodbye to Rachel and thank her for the gift she had been to me. As I sat on her bed, she told me how sad she was to be dying. I was sad with her. As I drove home from work that night, I realized with a sudden insight that I was ALIVE, and I was filled with awe and gratitude at this awareness. By the time I stepped inside my house, I was so overwhelmed with joy at being alive that I began to write down all the things that made me grateful for my life. Memories and desires poured out almost faster that I could write them down. I was so overcome with joy for the gift of my own life that the sadness that had been oppressing me for the last few months was suddenly insignificant. I was alive!!! My vocational call didn’t come until several years later, but the grace I received from Rachel that night was a foreshadowing of the grace I receive now in my vocation as a Benedictine nun. The immense gratitude for the gift of my life demands a response, and my response is the complete gift of my life back to my Creator in a sacrifice of praise! In fact, for me personally, this is not only one way, but the fullest way possible I can express my gratitude to God for creating me. St. Benedict’s only goal is to seek God, so that we might begin now what will be brought to completion in heaven. Using the words of St. John, he urges his monks to “run while you have the light of life that the darkness of death may not overtake you” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.13). No wonder St. Benedict directs even the most ordinary aspects of daily life so carefully. All those short moments together make up this great gift we have called LIFE, and there is no time to waste in complacency. I believe that the profound reverence and intentionality with which St. Benedict treats of those smallest choices reveals his deeply grateful heart. The final verse of Psalm 150, which we sing at Lauds every Saturday and Feast day concludes, “Let everything that breathes, praise the Lord,” and I often note with gratitude that I am indeed still breathing, and I remember Rachel as we sing it. Thank you, Rachel, for bringing me into such a full life by your death! I pray that when I follow you into eternity someday, together in the heavenly kingdom we will praise the Lord forever.
Sister Maria-Benedicta (previously our “Sister Molly”) made her simple vows on February 10, the Solemnity of St. Scholastica, It was a joyful occasion that her whole family was able to join us for her profession—including so many adorable nieces and nephews!
Sister Maria-Benedicta O’Brien is the daughter of Patrick and Jean O’Brien of Denver, and the third of five siblings. Her many gifts and gracious flexibility are a blessing to our community.
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it…
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him…
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us…”
–John 1:1-5, 10-11, 14
We rejoice with you on this glorious day as we celebrate the day on which God gave us the greatest gift—His very self. May you receive Him with great joy! Many blessings on you this Christmas and always.