No matter how long we have been in religious life—or have been striving to live out our baptismal calling in whatever setting—there is always something new to learn about the mysterious God who is ever seeking to intensify His loving relationship with us. This came home to me recently in June when I joined some one hundred other Benedictine men and women at St. John’s Abbey for the 26th annual Monastic Institute gathering. The four days of sessions focused on the Bible and Prayer in Benedictine Spirituality.In one session on “Praying the Bible and Praying the Word,” Abbot Jerome Kodell of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas distinguished how the “Word of God” means much more than just the actual words of the Biblical texts. Though intellectually I knew this, Abbot Jerome helped point out the many other meanings the term “Word” encompasses so as to cover all of God’s saving actions from the on-going creation and order of the universe to the smallest invisible particles and all living beings, to His incarnation and salvation of the human race, to His indwelling in the Spirit poured out upon the world and His continued revelation to us through grace. God’s Word is God’s continual revealing of God’s love for us through not just the sacraments, Scripture, and tradition, but also through our inter-relations with others: through a mother’s love, a word of encouragement, the beauties of nature, a work of art, another’s smile, etc.In helping others grow in their relationship with God and in discerning where God may be leading them, I often ask them to recall instances in their life where they really felt God’s presence and that made a difference for them. Each person recalls instances—often even from early childhood continuing on into adult life. Abbot Jerome’s talk brought back and clarified such an instance from my early high school days.Not a particularly religious adolescent, I did attend church with my family on Sundays, and I was proud to own a Missal with an English translation of the Latin texts used at Mass. In the pre-Vatican II liturgy, every Mass ended with the reading of the Prologue of John’s Gospel. I do recall now how so often I found myself at home or wherever repeating over and over to myself those beautiful words and wondering what they meant.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginningwith God. All things were made through Him and without Him was made nothing that has been made. In Himwas life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not…”
Though discerning my religious vocation came some years later, I can see now that the “Word of God” was luring me even then.And how about you?
Sister Mary Catherine Shambour
Sister Mary E.Catherine Shambour currently serves as Vocation Director Minister for St. Scholastica Monastery. She had had many years of experience teaching on the secondary and college levels, and has frequently traveled to Russia and the Soviet Union as a student, teacher, tour leader, and volunteer church worker.See all of Sister Mary Catherine’s posts.