Reflection for the Silver Jubilee

July 13, 2014

by Anne Shepard, OSB

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest...

 Our jubiliarians have been well grounded. Each was born into a stable, large family.  All are educated in the Catholic faith.  They are life long learners and avid readers.  Their family soil was rich with nutrients, including some compost, tilled regularly with much love, acceptance, discipline, disappointments, hopes dashed and hopes realized.  All came from families that enjoy eating the fruit of the land and gathering on special occasions . They were raised to express themselves, to be responsible for their siblings, to use their minds as well as their hands.  They are creative and joyful. We love their music making, handiwork and their pies, their humor and their storytelling.   It is the stable homes and the example set by their parents, grandparents and siblings that gave them their foundation, the stability, the obedience to one another,  living in community, all essentials for their Benedictine vocation.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest...

Rooted in a monastic tradition over 1500 years old and a community that celebrated its 125th in 1988, the community was fertile ground in the late 80's when these women entered.  Sister Mary Agnes Patterson was elected the 9th prioress of the Mount.  She led over 320 sisters and brokered numerous significant changes as a result of our Church, our society and the world at large.  We experienced the canonization of the Vietnamese martyrs, music by Bon Jove and Motley Crew, high hair dos, jam shorts for men and Converse All Stars for the women.  The first George Bush took office, the cold war came to an end even as tensions in Iraq started to mount. It was in this era that we first heard about global warming, the rise of global debt and televisions making their way into the home of families in the third world.  Against the backdrop of so much happening, our four sisters decided to give us a try. 

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest...

One of my favorite prints from the St. John’s Bible is that of Jesus as the sower, the contemporary icon written for the gospel story of this day.  Placed in a dominant wall in my office,  it reminds me of the gentle, deliberate, compassionate Christ.  Jesus is depicted as a tall man dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt holding a basket in one hand and throwing seeds in the other, pitching the seeds within and outside the lines of the frame of the picture.  He stands solidly on the ground. In the forefront of the picture are four mounds of dirt.  On one a bird sits eating seed on an apparent footpath.  One mound has stones and nothing sprouting from it.  The third has no depth, it looks shallow, so thorns are growing from and entangled within it.  And finally a mound with beautiful, solid dirt from which sprouts ripe wheat.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest...

This print of the sower is a searching review, a reminder of how we live our discipleship. Australian monastic Verna Holyhead muses that: "at some time, in the same day, and individually and communally in family, parish, workplace or community, we can be the different soils about which Jesus speaks.  We can be people who receive the word on the edge of the path, those who skirt the real issues, who are eager for the first distraction that jogs past, disciples of surface commitment and no depth.  Or our lives will be rocky soil: enthusiasts of the moment, people of the quick fix and immediate response to the gospel, who soon lose interest when the demands of the kingdom mean thrusting one’s roots down into darkness, despite the rocky obstacles, and waiting patiently in that darkness for further growth.  Again, we may offer a patchy, thorn infested welcome to the seed of the Word, and the potential for its growth is endangered by our entanglement with self seeking concerns or apathy, so the seed does not come to maturity and bear fruit.  Then there are times when we are good soil for the seed, when we welcome, obey and witness to the Word, and God enables us to bear a fruitful harvest for the kingdom."

Jesus is both the Word of God, the seed, and the sower.  The main challenges for us are to sow the seed in freshly tilled soil, to be that good seed, letting go wholeheartedly by dying to self so new life will grow, and also to sow the Word of God, to throw seeds of the message of the gospel and the words of Benedict in the direction of others.  Today is about our recognizing that we are simultaneously all the kinds of earth,  but we are so wanting to be good soil on which the seed can land.

For twenty five years you, Susan, Molly, Bridget and Oahn, have been tilling the monastic land and planted so many good seeds of unselfish service and healing of others.   In the next twenty five years, our community, our church, our world will be looking for you to continue to till the land.  We have yet to imagine the contents, the placement, the flowers or blossoms that will feed us and cause us to grow even more dramatically, creatively and lovingly than we are today.  The land will experience a newness of life and a different direction because of your efforts.  

Yes, today’s feast and jubilee is for all of us  hope for the future.  In a moment you will ask God once again for strength to continue live the monastic life in this place, with your Benedictine sisters as you sing: Receive me, Oh Lord, as you have promised that I may live, disappoint me not in my hope.  We join you in that commitment and receptivity to God’s eternal care for us because we believe with all our hearts: 

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest...

Mount St. Scholastica


Silver Jubilarians 2014

Sisters Bridget Dickason,
Susan Barber,
Molly Brockwell,
and Oanh Pham