Dear Friends,

 We hope that you are safe and well.

 We have arrived in Iowa City to participate in the Ordination of the new Bishop in the Roman Catholic Woman Priest Midwest Region, Martha Sherman--keep her in your prayers in these momentous days.

We are driving and visiting friends and family along the way. We carry you in our hearts along the way of our pilgrimage. Today's Meditation is Joan Chittister writing about Seeking God/Putting On the Mind of God Wherever We Are. We have been struck by the friendliness of people as we travel. It makes me wonder if getting to know each other better builds bridges across our differences.

Don't miss Annie Smith Peck and the poem "An Inventory of Moons" as you scroll down the page.

We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION 809: Joan Chittister: "Find God Where You Are--Put on the mind of God Where You Are"

"Put on the mind of God," writes Sister Joan.

The secret of the really spiritual life

Abba Sisoes says: “Seek God, not where God lives.”

It is one thing to make a pilgrimage to the desert to find God. It is entirely another to be open to finding God where we are.

Then we become what the challenge of the moment summons us to be. Then Abba Sisoes’ word of spiritual advice—to seek God and not simply the trappings of the spiritual life—becomes real, becomes true.

Life is not an exercise in spiritual gymnastics. It is one long, unending attempt to put on the mind of God wherever we are, whatever happens to us on the way. We are not here to pray our way out of life’s challenges. We are here to grow through every one of them into spiritual adulthood.

The shrines and special prayers and holy pilgrimages along the way are spiritual oases meant to build our strength for the rest of the way. They are not God; they are simply signs that the God who made us is with us. It is that relationship that counts far beyond any particular devotion.

Abba Sisoes held the secret of the really spiritual life. However faithfully we have cultivated a favorite devotion, he warns us, we are not to allow ourselves to be beguiled by any of them. Each and all of them have only one purpose. They are meant simply to point in the direction of the consciousness of God at all times and in all places.

—from In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Joan Chittister (Franciscan Media)

What's New: October 17, 2022

Joan Chittister and Women: The FutureOn Sunday, October 9, Joan Chittister spoke at the launch event celebrating a new political action committee, called Women: The Future. This group was started by Kathy Dahlkemper, former Country Executive of Erie and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. Sister Joan's presentation to the local women focused on the special attributes and talents that women, in general, can and must bring to political leadership. She encouraged them to be involved, at whatever level or interest, as the voices of women are greatly needed in all leadership arenas.

Column on Principles and Politics Joan Chittister’s latest column in the National Catholic Reporter is about "the kind of leadership we need now if this new world is to bear the strain of our divided political system.” Drawing on the Prayer for Leadership that she wrote 14 years ago, Sister Joan considers “what we want and what we are willing to do to get it,” as a country. Click here to read the piece.

Monasteries of the Heart WebinarJoin a dialogue with Adam Bucko as we explore themes in his new book Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation. The book is a collection of reflections, stories, and insights from Bucko’s years of prayer and activism, including in the streets with homeless and LGBTQ youth, in new monastic communities across the world, and as an Episcopal priest in an engaged contemplative community. In the webinar, Bucko will share initial reflections on engaged contemplation in tradition and practices, and then we will open it for questions and conversation. Learn more and register here.

LET’S DO JUSTICEWith the threat of climate change more obvious than ever, a new film called The Letter, released by the Laudato Si’ Movement, tells the story of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si' and the power of humanity to stop the ecological crisis. It features voices of those most impacted by the climate crisis–youth, indigenous people, the poor, and nature itself.

The Letter was released on October 4, feast of St. Francis at the closing of this year’s Season of Creation, by Laudato Si Movement in partnership with Off the Fence and the Vatican.

This 80-minute feature film is posted on YouTube Originals in English. It can also be found here. Consider watching this film and sharing it with others.

MYSTICS OF THE RHINE CRUISEIn October 2023, Joan Chittister will host a river cruise on the Rhine in Germany, offered through Educational Opportunities Catholic Tours.

During this 9-day, 7-night river cruise, she will lecture on mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Marguerite Porete, the Beguines of Belgium, and Meister Eckhardt.

See Amsterdam, Cologne, Cologne's Cathedral, the renowned Christmas markets, Rüdesheim, Strasbourg, Breisach, and more!

(A limited number of cabins are reserved only until Tuesday, October 18 -- a full year ahead of the scheduled cruise. After Oct. 18, the deposit doubles and cabins go to other groups and guests on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Learn more and register here.

SOUL POINTSOctober 18: Today is the feast of St. Luke, evangelist. Luke was a physician who brought more to new life by following Jesus than he did by his profession. If Luke proves anything, he proves that life is about far more than work. What else is your life producing besides the fruit of your public labors?

—from A Monastery Almanac, by Joan Chittister

October 19: Annie Smith Peck, mountaineer and suffragist, was born on this date in 1850. In an era when many universities refused to admit women, she studied Greek and the classics at University of Michigan and went on to teach Latin and speech at Purdue University. In 1885 Peck became the first woman to attend the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece where she studied archeology. While in Europe she took up mountaineering, and by 1892, she made her living lecturing and writing travel guides. By then in her late forties, she was well-known for her adventures climbing Mt. Shasta, the Matterhorn, and other slopes previously believed to be too difficult for women. Press coverage of these feats usually focused on the fact that she wore trousers and tunics instead of dresses. Throughout her fifties, she climbed many of the highest points in the Americas, and in 1911, at the age of 61, she climbed Coropuna, a volcano in Peru, planting a flag that read “Votes for Women,” at the peak. She continued to climb mountains and advocate for women’s rights until her death in 1935, at the age of 84.

October 21: Today is the birth date of Alfred Nobel, who established the Nobel Foundation, which offers annual prizes for arts, culture, peace, and science. Nobel was moved to do this later in life, wracked with guilt over his role in inventing dynamite, which made warfare much more deadly. He chose to make his legacy one of growth for humanity, instead one of death and violence. Today’s Nobel laureates continue to work for peace and prosperity. This year’s winners of the Noble Peace Prize, for example, are Ales Bialiatski, an advocate for democracy from Belarus, as well as to Memorial, a Russian human rights organization, and a Ukrainian human rights organization, The Center for Civil Liberties.


An Inventory of Moons

If you live to be very old, you may see twelve hundred full moons.

Some come in winter and you trudge out into the deep snow to

stand beneath their glow. Others come to you in the city and you

take an elevator up to the roof of the highest building and set out

a couple of folding chairs to watch it glide across the sky. Or the

moon finds you along a foreign shore and you paddle out in some

dingy and scoop its reflection from the waters and drink it down.

The moons of your old age are the most potent but seem few and

far between. They make their way into your marrow and teach it

how to hum. When your final moon arrives, it’s as if youth has

come back to you. Though instead of flaunting its yellow hat, now

it’s dressed in black.

—David Shumate

Compiled by Mary Lou Kownacki, Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, and Benetvision Staff