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Second Sunday of Advent Reflection
Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent 2015
Sister Nicole Kunze
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I know there have been times in my life where I’ve had to trust that God was walking with me through the struggle and would help me complete it. Some of you know better than others how in the midst of my graduate studies I wanted to quit with a master’s degree and come home. Chemical reactions were not working the way they were supposed to, writing the thesis was challenging, I couldn’t come up with a dissertation idea, and I was homesick. Your prayers and words of encouragement kept me going. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I’m grateful I persevered to the end. I would have been greatly disappointed in myself if I hadn’t finished.
This caused me to think about the history of our community and the struggles I’ve heard you talk about – finding a site for the monastery in Bismarck, the early days of Mary College, moving through the changes after Vatican II. I appreciate hearing the stories of the sacrifices and decisions that were made, the hurts that were felt, and how it shaped our monastic community into who we are today. These are events that are history to me – something I didn’t participate in. I have to realize, though, I have been involved in about a quarter of our community’s history. I participated in the planning and building process for this monastery. Who can forget the meeting regarding tubs versus showers? Talking about history is helpful, but what about today, the history you and I are making right now, and tomorrow and the women who will build upon our foundation?
We are in the midst of challenges and struggles that are just as significant as those faced by our founding sisters. Our work with our consultant over the past three years has assisted us in facing the realities of our demographics. We are dealing with changes in our community in terms of size, energy, and abilities and how to integrate newer members into community involvement, such as committees and leadership.
This fall, we created a vision statement for living a vibrant community life. We affirmed direction statements on leadership, membership, community life, emerging ministries, and sponsorship almost two months ago. We are starting to work on objectives and strategies to go with those direction statements, all in preparation for our discernment process this spring. I don’t know about you, but thinking about all of this causes me some restless nights from time to time. What are we being called to do? How will we do it? S
Sister Nancy offered us a mantra in her commissioning reflection that I need to recall more often: “I am with you. I love you. Trust me.” I probably also need to keep in mind Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, given in today’s second reading: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value…” (Phil 1:9 – 10) Our Benedictine way of life and our strength, trust, and faith in each other will assist us in discerning what we need to do. There will be challenging discussions and conversations about our monastic way of life but we will do it because we care deeply about it and each other. It will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is usually easy. We cannot see what will happen months, years, and decades down the road, but we trust in our Benedictine decision making process and the collective wisdom of the community.
May our prayer and reflection this Advent season help us and our community prepare for the upcoming meetings and discussions, confident and faithful that God who began this good work will see it through to its end on the day of Christ’s coming.