St. Andrew on Embracing the Cross

A reflection commemorating the Feast of St. Andrew, originally given by Mother Maria-Michael in 2019

I was thinking about the incredible words we sing during the Divine Office on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30): “Seeing the cross [of his own martyrdom], Andrew cried out with joy, ‘O precious cross! Truly I have always loved you, and I have desired to embrace you.’”

This is a disciple who ran away in the garden of Gethsemane—he didn’t stand by Jesus on the cross—so the greatest gift that could be given to him was another chance to stand by the cross. What did he do with it? He embraced it. He longed for that moment to tell Christ, “I love you, and I want to be with you, wherever that leads.” This is the power of the triumph of the cross. Love is the triumph of the cross. When we love enough that we no longer fear the crosses in our lives but we embrace them and we long for them because they unite us with him who has loved us beyond all love, that is the triumph of the cross. So today we celebrate that we no longer fear the cross; it is truly the exaltation. Of course we cannot do this of ourselves. St. Andrew, St. Peter, none of them, could have embraced the cross on their own, but with divine strength they could embrace and kiss it. And their suffering turned into gratitude. Yes, when we can thank God for the crosses in our life, God has triumphed. When we can see that it is Love that has given us once again the chance to prove our love, we will rejoice and say, “Amen!” and run toward it, because we have a chance to prove our love. Let us pray today that the cross may triumph in our own lives, because it will not happen on our own. It is completely divine strength.

Artwork by one of our sisters

2022 Abbey Calendars for Sale

This year’s calendar features stunning pictures of the tapestries that hang in our Abbey Church.  They were woven for us by Frau Walburga, OSB, at our motherhouse in Germany for our chapel in Boulder in the early 1960s.  Woven of hand-dyed and handspun wool, they depict the “Mysteries of Mary,” something like but not quite identical to the mysteries of the rosary.  The calendar also gives the days of the Church’s liturgical days and seasons, together with days commemorated by the Order of St. Benedict, as they are observed at our Abbey. 

You can order a calendar from the Abbey Gift Shop, either by telephoning us at 970-472-0612 or by ordering online (see below). The prices listed for one, two, or three calendars include tax, shipping and handling.

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St. Benedict: A Man of Life

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.

Embracing the Cross

A reflection on the triumph of Love by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB

I was thinking about the incredible words we sing during the Divine Office on the Feast of St. Andrew: “Seeing the cross [of his own martyrdom], Andrew cried out with joy, ‘O precious cross! Truly I have always loved you, and I have desired to embrace you.’”

This is a disciple who ran away in the garden of Gethsemane—he didn’t stand by Jesus on the cross—so the greatest gift that could be given to him was another chance to stand by the cross. What did he do with it? He embraced it. He longed for that moment to tell Christ, “I love you, and I want to be with you, wherever that leads.” This is the power of the triumph of the cross. Love is the triumph of the cross. When we love enough that we no longer fear the crosses in our lives but we embrace them and we long for them because they unite us with him who has loved us beyond all love, that is the triumph of the cross. So today we celebrate that we no longer fear the cross; it is truly the exaltation. Of course we cannot do this of ourselves. St. Andrew, St. Peter, none of them, could have embraced the cross on their own, but with divine strength they could embrace and kiss it. And their suffering turned into gratitude. Yes, when we can thank God for the crosses in our life, God has triumphed. When we can see that it is Love that has given us once again the chance to prove our love, we will rejoice and say, “Amen!” and run toward it, because we have a chance to prove our love. Let us pray today that the cross may triumph in our own lives, because it will not happen on our own. It is completely divine strength.

May this Easter season bring you much joy in the resurrection of Our Lord, who suffered his cross for the love of us, that we might have a sense of the depths of his love and desire to return our love for his.

Artwork by Sr. Ancilla Armijo, OSB