2014 Oblate Commitment Ceremony

2014 Oblate Commitment Ceremony

The short but powerful Gospel reading (Matthew 22: 34-40) is one of those that we all know by heart and is supportive, comforting and yet challenging whenever we read it.

With the present Pope Francis and his philosophy of mercy and kindness to all, especially to those in most need, this reading should have a resurgence of being quoted as one that presents Christianity in its fullness.

This year as I read it I was drawn to the last line of Matthew: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
If our world today and our culture in particular, is anything, it is surely a time of what seems to be perpetual decision-making and often side-choosing. “Should we do this or that? Believe this or that? Support this or that? Choose this or that?”

Too many choices; too many questions ─ presented as if they have only one black or white answer or option.

As Benedictine seekers and as followers of the life and message of Jesus, I think that the closing sentence in this Gospel passage is an answer to the confusions of decision-making and choice-making that often confront us in an endless daily surge.
And the answer it gives is this: Choose what resonates with the commandments of love. Give your support to and follow the path and direction of the course of love: love of God and love of neighbor.

The way that achieves good ─ that brings kindness, mercy and attentiveness as Jesus would do, is the answer to the dilemma of knowing the right course to take.

Every time we choose the good action or response it brings life, light, and love; every time we choose the good action or response it leads to justice.

We are part of life, death, resurrection and hope over and over again as we accompany people each day. A great truth attributed to Emily Dickinson is that “Hope inspires the good to reveal itself.”

We who follow the Benedictine Way are fortunate to have the Rule of Benedict and the traditions of monastic life as additional supports and affirmations in our daily choices and encounters.

As Benedict and his followers followed the way of Jesus, so do we. These two “commandments” are indeed the measuring stick for the life journey.

Last month I completed reading and signing the Blessing of Ministry papers that the sisters complete each year, delineating how they, in their life and ministries, will live out the Benedictine charism and commit to living out our Corporate Commitment in the upcoming months. I am always very moved by their responses.

Just when I finished them, I began to read and sign the papers of re-commitment that our oblates submitted. They, too, touch me deeply with their level of commitment, integrity and depth of love of God and love of neighbor.

I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and salvation at work in the world through each of you. There are countless ways that you are making life better for others.

I would like to share some of the ways that you have expressed a desire to live out the Benedictine charism and our Corporate Commitment. Each of these expressions embraces love of God and love of neighbor.

I will:
• Seek an intimate relationship with God
• Pray the liturgy of the hours, read daily the Rule of Benedict, live the Rule of Benedict
• Study scripture
• Deepen my meditative practice
• Spiritually mentor women
• Infuse lectio into my prayer practices of art & yoga
• Commit to deepening my knowledge in Benedictine history and values
• Unite my prayers with the Erie Benedictine community through regular Eucharistic celebrations and lectio divina
• Teach and preach the Benedictine charism of peace
• I will pause each day at morning, noon and evening to be in solidarity with my Benedictine sisters to pray for the needs of others
• Stay connected to this community daily through the community website
• Work to establish a “new monastic” community in my neighborhood
• Pursue advocacy and activism in hopes of change
• Work for and speak and write publicly in support of disarmament, ecological stewardship and social justice
• Be a healing presence for those who are discriminated against in society
• Care for family and friends who need my help
• Use music to increase well- being and decrease pain, anxiety and depression
• Strive to be a healing presence in the midst of a society sickened by hatred, greed and violence
• Continue to be an active participant in prison ministry for women
• Change social inequality through my ministry of fundraising
• Commit to spirituality of nonviolence and work for justice
• Volunteer at a center for the homeless
• Lobby for immigration reform, climate change and human rights for women and children
• Work for justice for the people of Palestine, West Bank and East Jerusalem
• Grow in my efforts to live sustainably and honor the sanctity of all creation
• Live simply and use the earth’s resources wisely

I want to thank you for initiating or renewing your oblate commitment with us. We are blessed to have you join us on the Benedictine journey.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.