The Danish philosopher of religion Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “As my prayer became more and more devout and interior, there was less and less I had to say. Finally I became completely still. I became—this is perhaps an even greater contrast to talking—I became a listener.”
We can train ourselves in everyday life to take this stance of listening in prayer, for instance, by relating the thoughts and emotions that rise within us in the course of our day to God time and again. The next step is to receive from God, in a stance of openness and listing, what God wants to tell us. – We also need times, on a daily basis, that are completely set aside for God, especially in the morning and in the evening. During my quiet morning time every day I read a passage from Holy Scripture and ask God to speak to me through it. – It is good to have special places for our personal prayer, a room or a prayer corner in our home, for instance. A regular Holy Hour in church can be an excellent time for becoming still and a listener of God. And sometimes it is really helpful to go on retreat.
Rabbi Kuk used to tell his disciples, “God is everywhere; and God is the same everywhere.” When work became too much for him though, he withdrew into the desert for prayer. His disciples were astonished about this. One day they asked him, “Rabbi, you said that God is everywhere, and God is the same everywhere. Why do you go to the desert to pray if God is everywhere?” – “You are right,” Rabbi Kuk responded. “God is everywhere; and God is the same everywhere. However, I am not the same everywhere. That’s why I go to the desert to pray.” Rabbi Kuk had experienced that in stillness, in being alone at a place of retreat, he could sense God’s presence in a special way.
St. Benedict Center is such a place of retreat for many. One could call it a rest stop for the soul. Its sacred architecture with its spaciousness, arches and crosses is conducive to this, and so is the religious artwork from around the world. The serene beauty of nature on the grounds with the lake is helpful, and so is the stillness. Even more important is the fact that people pray here, the monks and our many retreatants.
From our monastery I can report that our community has become larger: Our Fr. Adam who had spent some time at our motherhouse in Germany has come home. Br. Remigius from Muensterschwarzach, Germany, is living with us while improving his English language skills for a mission assignment. Fr. Jacques from Togo is spending some time with us as well.
At St. Benedict Center nearly all our guest rooms have queen-size or full-size beds now, which offer greater sleeping comfort to everyone. – Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule is the weekend retreat on June 28 – 29 with best-selling author Kathleen Norris from Hawaii titled, Seeking God Together. She will share stories of spiritual formation from her own life and from the monastic tradition. – I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!
Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator