News from the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery
from the current exhibit Movement = Life by Lara Hanson
Oct. 11-24, 2016
Words to the Wise

"A monk was once asked, 'What do you do up there in the monastery?' The monk replied, 'We fall down and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up again.' "


Esther de Waal, Seeking God

School of Discernment
Oct. 14-16
Please hold in your prayers those who are participating in this week's School of Discernment at the Benedictine Center. Women and men are coming together for a three-day immersion into the monastic rhythm, learning to practice attention to the movement of the Spirit in their lives. The experience will be facilitated by Dr. Kathleen Cahalan and supported by the Benedictine Center's spiritual direction team.
What Are Spiritual Directors and Congregational Leaders Talking About?

On Pentecost 2016 an open letter was sent to the Bishop and rostered leaders of the St. Paul Area Synod-ELCA encouraging consideration of The Listening Project and its implications for congregational ministry (files publicly available online at With the support of the Bishop, the conversation continues.

Of the many denominations represented by those seeking spiritual direction at the Benedictine Center, there have been a significant number of Lutherans coming from the ELCA. The three-year Listening Project sought to explore the underlying dynamics of this trend within the St. Paul Area Synod-ELCA and to assist congregational leaders in sharing the resources for spiritual direction.

After the completion of focus groups, surveys, and interpretive conversations, a follow-up gathering for further discussion and networking was held on Sept. 22, 2016 at the Benedictine Center, under the leadership of Sam Rahberg and in collaboration with S. Noreen Stevens, Assistant to the Bishop for Vocation and Formation. Public invitations were sent through electronic publications from the SPAS, welcoming anyone with interest in spiritual direction within the SPAS-ELCA to attend. Significantly, about 25 spiritual directors, pastors and ministry partners participated in the discussion.

What do spiritual directors and congregational leaders talk about when they come together around The Listening Project? Read on for a summary which offers any reader the chance to be a fly on the wall during an interesting exchange . . .

Prayer of Transformation
Sharing the Harvest

What invitation is there for me?
On Tues., Sept. 27 several brave souls ventured through rain and rush hour traffic to create community together exploring the themes of abundance and scarcity.  Our time together began with the gift of dinner, lovingly prepared by the monastery and offered to us.  Food served as a focus point for the evening, both the tangible dinner and snacks provided for us, and the deepening of our reflection around our spiritual food and what nourishes our soul.
 The gathered community reflected on verses from Isaiah calling us to "Come, you who are thirsty.  Even if you have no money, come and buy food."  What of this reading speaks of scarcity?  Of abundance?  What is the invitation for us?  
From that reflection, we created drawings and collage around the themes and that middle transformation point which is relationship, community and the kingdom of God.  As we shared our art with one another, we discerned the prayer that arose from the art itself.  And with our prayers and sharing, we built the community that can hold hope and longing together.  Our written prayers circulated among us as we Prayed in Color, adding our color, images and heart to each of the prayers offered.  
It is a gift and a blessing to gather with our hearts open, to listen to Spirit and to create something new.  What in your life speaks to you of scarcity?  What speaks of abundance?  What is the invitation into transformation that we can create together?
Rhythms of the Soul: A Musical Reflection on the Spiritual Life
Thurs., Oct. 13, 7-9p
Nathan Hanson and Sam Rahberg
Music helps us experience a sense of timelessness. It can teach us what it means to live in harmony with the soul as we learn to receive and give, to prepare and act, and always-always-to listen. This two-part evening event begins with a conversation between composer and saxophonist Nathan Hanson and spiritual director Sam Rahberg as they explore the evocative dynamics of jazz and their parallels in the spiritual life described by Saint Benedict. Then Nathan will be joined by two fellow musicians for a prayerful musical experience.
Benedictine Pilgrimage Reprise: South Korea, Land of the Morning Calm
Thurs., Oct. 27, 7-9p
Freewill offering
In May of 2016 nine pilgrims experienced the global character of Christianity through the lens of Korean Benedictine life. The values were familiar, but the cultural context was entirely new. With this evening's multi-sensory experience, you, too, can encounter the stirring language, landscape, heritage, and flavors of South Korea as a universal invitation to prayer and renewal. As in Korea, the pilgrims will be accompanied by Sam Rahberg and S. Carol Rennie OSB. Register online
First Friday Prayer Vigil
beginning Fri., Nov. 4
There are as many forms of prayer as there are those who pray.  Words, images, song, gesture, and silence, deep silence, find welcome in our hearts as we open ourselves to God's infinite spirit. 
Prayer is the response to our loving Creator, a mediator between the world's chaos and God's peace.  Prayer in the midst of community is a powerful response to overwhelming topics: war, poverty, loneliness, natural disasters.  Our very gathering becomes a witness to the goodness and beauty of this world and its peoples.  Prayer that lifts up and reaches out cannot help but move our world a bit closer to all that God calls us to. 
In that spirit, a spirit of open-ended, creative prayer, we offer space to gather, to reflect, to hope.  We will gather with intention, calling upon God and each other to open our hearts to deep peace and possibility.  Please join us for the first of these gatherings of prayer on Friday, November 4, as we pray for our country and its leaders.

Exhibit Movement = Life by Lara Hanson
open 9a-6p daily until Nov. 18
This series of work was created during rehearsals of Merge, a collaborative piece performed by Black Label Movement and Contempo Physical Dance in 2016. I brought my pens and pencils, chalk and graphite sticks, brushes and ink, and varying sizes of paper to the rehearsal spaces and drew the dancers and choreographers in action. In my notation I am recording more than just the literal human form in space. I am also attempting to capture the pathway, emotion and energy of the movement. It is my hope that you as the viewer will be able to look at my drawings and recognize and feel what I experienced while observing the dancers. Even more importantly, I hope that you will be able to see dance in a different way and recognize the true beauty and workings of the human body in motion. Learn more about Lara Hanson and Moving Line Studio.
Explore the Benedictine Center's Latest Listen Publication
Fresh copies will be mailed in early September, but reader's can preview the articles and events already. Download a PDF copy to view the new edition or  explore online the upcoming opportunities for retreat, prayer and rich conversation. If you would prefer a hardcopy and do not receive one by the end of the first week of September, please email the Benedictine Center.
Also Coming Up . . .
Great Conversation: Cultivating a Heart for Community
Thurs., Nov. 3, 9a-1p
Victor Klimoski
Freewill offering
While people talk about their desire for connection in community, how the define community can vary widely. What does not vary are the dispositions and practices necessary for being in community. Theologian Christine Pohl names four core practices: gratitude, truth-telling, promise keeping, and hospitality. In this conversation we explore those practices and what they imply for a culture increasingly fragmented and individualistic. Register online
Our Human Condition and the Mercy of God
Tues., Nov. 15, 7-9p
S. Mary White OSB
This year of mercy, convened by Pope Francis, is an opportunity to consider our human imperfection in the light of God's great love and leniency. Pondering stories from the Bible, we will encounter a God of unlimited forgiveness, who prefers compassion to punishment and who continually frees persons from the harshness of the law. Register online

Recommended Reading
The Way Forward:
A Collection of Benedictine Inspirations
Timeless meditations connecting Benedictine wisdom to everyday life. Available in print and digital editions.
Lamentation of the Written Word
by Victor Klimoski
Reposition the dark periods of writing as moments to reclaim why it is important. Available online.
Illuminating Ministry
A Journal, Vol. III
An opportunity for church leaders to join in prayer and reflection with The Saint John's Bible. Available online.
Upcoming Events
Other Events/Resources of Related Interest
Humility and Our Core of Basic Goodness
with guest presenter Shawn Kafader
Minnesota Contemplative Outreach
Oct. 14-16, 2016 
The complementary movement towards divine love is growth in humility (Fr. Thomas Keating). You are invited to join MN Contemplative Outreach for a weekend of peace and restoration, of contemplation and renewal, at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota. Learn more . . .

Sam Rahberg, Director


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The Benedictine Center shares the monastic heritage of St. Paul's Monastery with all who seek to live with the Gospel as their guide.
Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery, 2675 Benet Road, St. Paul, MN 55109