2017 Oblate Commitment Ceremony

2017 Oblate Commitment Ceremony

The Gospel reading we just heard would certainly be a strong contender in a contest that was asking for the message of Jesus in one or two phrases. "Love God and love your neighbor as yourself."

In fact, this is a close paraphrasing of what is known as The Golden Rule, primarily noted in the Christian Scriptures from earlier in Matthew, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

It also is one of the scripture passages that is best known by memory, by Christians and by people of all faiths and walks of life.

It appears in the Hebrew Scriptures in Deuteronomy and Leviticus as "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

In Buddhism we read, "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."

The Golden Rule in Hinduism is conveyed as: "This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you."

And from an Islamic writing, "None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself."

For us as Benedictines, it, too, sums up our monastic stance of the primacy of our relationship with God through our communal and personal prayer, our relationship with the other members of our community and the significance of our ministerial outreach with and for the people of God—our "neighbors."

This weekend, particularly, reminds us of our special relationship with all who seek to live the Benedictine way of life—to all who "love God with all their hearts, minds and souls."

Among us this year we have eight initiates who have looked at Benedictine spirituality and found in it an enrichment of their own search for the sacred in life. They will continue to study the Rule of Benedict and the monastic values it espouses, and will begin to incorporate these values into their own daily lives.

We also have five individuals who are now formally becoming oblates of Mount St. Benedict Monastery of Erie. They join with thousands of people around the world today who give witness to the Oblate Way of Life.

I have carefully read and pondered each oblate commitment. Your love for God and your love for your neighbors are clearly evident.

Your faithfulness in living the Benedictine charism and corporate commitment of this community is uplifting and encouraging. Each of you is making a tremendous difference in this world during very challenging times.

A few months ago, I was struck deeply by a comment made by one of our Sunday liturgy presiders, Father Jim Piszker. On that Sunday he was musing about the acrimonious state of not only our own government but also that of the governments and peoples of many other nations in our world. After a brief summary of the challenges that this is bringing us, he asked the rhetorical questions: What are we to think? Where are we to go for answers for peace? And, How are we to live within such distressing times?

I could see our Sunday assembly leaning in, just waiting and hoping that he might propose an answer to the very questions and concerns which were on many of our minds, too.

And he did.

This is what he said: "Though the problems are many and the upset is great, there is only one response for us: We look to Jesus and his message. And we find him saying, 'Follow me.'"

And follow him is exactly what we must do: Live the gospel, Live the Golden Rule, Live by the Rule of Benedict and we will find life. We will find depth, happiness, meaning, purpose and love for this time, for all time—for ourselves and for our global neighbors.

Photo: Sister Anne Wambach, center, with Oblate Co-Directors: Sister Dianne Sabol (left) and Sister Ann Hoffman (right)

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.