Letting God shine through our lives
Judith Sutera, OSB
Editor's note: Sisters from Mount St. Scholastica write a weekly column titled "View from the Mount" in our hometown newspaper, the Atchison Globe. this column appeared in the Feb. 25 edition of the Globe.
Last Sunday was a day of great celebration at the Mount. It wasn’t a big feast day like Easter, or a special community event like a sister’s day of profession.
In the church’s calendar, it should have been just an ordinary Sunday but it definitely wasn’t.It began when four Benedictine College art students chose the chapel for their Discovery Day project.
Although their original intention was just to study the art, they recognized the most important thing about church design. Churches have a function beyond the practical. The space in which we worship affects the worship experience. High ceilings of great cathedrals lift the eyes to heaven. Paintings and stained glass windows remind worshippers of the stories of their faith. A rich acoustic environment enhances the voices to touch the souls of the listeners.
The students knew that the art was there for a deeper reason and they wanted to explore its true beauty. Since the sisters generally worship in the smaller chapel within the monastery and the students are not here at times of year when the sisters use the larger chapel, the students put up posters that said “Fill the Space” and organized a special Mass.
The college community responded; people flocked to the chapel to hear the sounds of praise, to see the light stream through the vibrant windows and to celebrate their shared faith. The students got the experience they had desired, and many others were inspired, too. Our postulant (that’s someone who’s just starting the monastic life), Jennifer Halling, wrote the following reflection:
Recently some students from Benedictine College undertook a “Discovery Day” project in which they studied the stained glass windows and other architectural features of St. Scholastica Chapel at the Mount. As part of this project, the students helped plan a special mass that took place in the chapel and was attended by approximately 400 sisters, students, faculty and their family members. In her welcoming remarks, Sister Anne Shepard noted that when the chapel was being designed, the sisters asked that the stained glass windows depict female saints so that as the community and Mount St. Scholastica College students prayed, they would be “surrounded by the saints, living and dead.”
We don’t often consider the fact that the people who surround us may be saints. However, if saints are those who, in the words of Joan Chittister, “…[pursue] … the one thing that matter[s] in life — the awareness of the presence of God,” then saints are indeed all around us. We may be saints in the making ourselves.
Around the time Mother Teresa was canonized, my friend Mike Sanem was part of a panel discussion on saints that was broadcast on the radio program “Up to Date.” The radio host, Steve Kraske, noted that the number of saints who have been canonized in recent years has been increasing, and he wondered if that made sainthood less special. Sanem responded, “It’s not that we have too many saints, it’s that we have too few saints; we are all called to sanctity, to saintliness, to letting God shine through our lives, no matter how messy or humble … we’re all called to be a sign in world of God present among us, to be an example to others of who God is and what God cares about.”
I’m grateful to be part of a community where we have daily reminders to let God shine through our lives, whether those reminders come through the stained glass windows in our chapel or the people sitting in the choir stalls next to us.