The New Blessings

July was the month of my visit in Montreal with presentation in the 5th World Congress on Positive Psychology. It was an opportunity to present my new research about the happiness of monastic people. It was also excuse to see again my city, my special lovely city Montreal.

I was afraid to see this city again. I was really afraid that will be difficult for me to come back to Edmonton. Part of my heart is still in Montreal.

It was interesting experience to see this city again from point of view of person who is not living here anymore. I stayed in Plateau, few blocks from former house of Leonard Cohen, in the bohemian part of Montreal, the city where I was an Art Student and Artist.

However during my visit my heart was connected more with other participants of the conference that with the city. No mater where I’m in the World right now I’m part of the scientific community of Positive Psychologists and this is the source of my blessings. After conference we all come back to our homes in different part of the World, mostly in USA, but our hearts are still connected and we will stay in touch. We have very common ideas and plans, for example to advocate the Positive Psychology in the local religious communities.  There is a lot of common in the religious values and the new discoveries in psychology. Is good to present this to local churches and synagogues to help people to realize religious life much better. This way my dream to connect and integrate religion and psychology was finally realized again and the new way. Thanks God for this and all other fantastic blessings.

IMG_0288
Montreal, Plateau

Ryan Niemiec
Dr Maria, the author of this blog and Dr Ryan Niemiec on 5th World Congress on Positive Psychology, July 2017 in Montreal

 

Advertisements

Timeline and registration of the community

I just can’t believe how much was happened just over the one year. One year ago I was member of my old community yet but now I’m a founder or new community considering to give away my leadership power to the new successor.

Timeline of my community was following.

  1. June 2016: One of the sisters of my old community during the evening community meeting and personal sharing told me that we, young members should start our own community. It was my feeling that I will do this but after many years, after permanent vows and after many new young members arrived to the convent.
  2. After I share this what I hear from older sister with younger sisters I have discovered with big surprise that one of them – another Novice understanding this proposition as a rejection of younger sisters by older sisters. She think that older sisters will send us away. But I feel this rather as a recognition of our (and my) ability to create the new young community. I really enjoy this conversation with the old sister. This give me courage and make my spirit feel stronger. I was ready to challenge and to suffer to create something new from beginning.
  3. July 2016: I receive very surprising news that I can’t continue my religious vocation in my community because there is no place here to work in my profession as a Scholar. I really was not ready to leave community and search another place to growth as a Benedictine Scholar, but God know better and God really doing this job using my hands, not me. I’m just humble servant who not be able to do anything without God’s will.
    The same month I have started regular Christian Meditation wit my Praying Companion sister. It was my idea to invite more people, also from outside monastery to out meditation sessions before I get message that I have to leave my monastery.
  4. August 2016: I’m arriving to Canada and immediately starting to lead meditation group. I’m surprised how much help and support I’m getting from other people and from the Church.
  5. September 2016: With support of some members of my meditation group I’m getting idea of start the new religious community – Transfiguration Monastery.
    I’m also joining Saint Anna Monastery based in USA. I’m formally accepted on September 30th.
  6. October 2016: We are starting activities and workshops for the community.
  7. January 2017: We are moving to our own house, working outside in the city and continue service for community.
  8. July 2017: We are preparing documentation to get registered as a religious community and non-profit organization. Registration documents can help us regulate our activities for tax purpose and give possibility to formally accept donations. We are expecting to get positive answer in this matter before the end of this year.
  9. We have first General Meeting of Community to plan management and activities for the next year. We will also finally decide about our vision and mission.
    I’m considering to give away leadership role and became silent advisor of the leaders and a continue life as a little bit of eremite. I will discuss this with the rest of the community in the end of this month.

I’m asking God to continue bringing blessings into my happy life.

The new member request and monastery lineage

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
 for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.
(Psalm 95; 6-7)

 

All the new members are precious. They need special attention like our lovely children and the new friends. This is something holy in the relationship between the members of the religious communities. This topic is worth separate book about the spirituality of relationship.

I’m very happy, blessed and grateful for God because one of the previous candidates to my former monastery ask me yesterday how to join my present monastery. I proposed her to join one of my two communities – online monastery (Community of Saint Anna in Monasteries of the Heart) first, but she will join our on-site Monastery what is great.

After her questions about the details I decided to explain her the lineage of our Community of Saint Anna and Transfiguration Monastery.

The lineage is following:
– Community of Saint Anna and Transfiguration Monastery are under the wings of the Monasteries of the Heart. (https://www.monasteriesoftheheart.org/)
– Monasteries of the Heart are under the wings of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie (Mount of Saint Benedict Monastery) https://www.eriebenedictines.org/
– Sisters of Erie are part of Federation of Saint Scholastica (While Mother of God Monastery is part of Federation of Saint Gertrude – different Benedictine federation in USA). More about federations is here: http://www.osb.org/intl/confed/nacong.html

treat
This is our monastic treat to guests and the new members of offline and on-site Transfiguration Community in Edmonton: almond pudding with almonds, raspberries, cherries and fresh mint leaves inside the chocolate shells.

 

Resurrection and Transfiguration

“And as they coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the son of Man is raised from the dead.”
(Matthew 17; 9)

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him”.
(Luke 9; 35)

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
(Luke 9;22)

 

It was the first Holiday of Resurrection in our Transfiguration Monastery. There is a lot of connection between Transfiguration and Resurrection. Transfiguration is really the announcement and explanation of the Resurrection.

The main mission of our Transfiguration Community is to follow Transfigured Jesus and to help find the beauty and light of the Holy and Transfigured person in our own soul and in the souls of others, special the forgotten ones who we are serving.

This is also time to observe not only waking up of the nature but also the renewal and rising to life of the forgotten and neglected Nations who are taking back theirs deserved places on the Earth.

FN Workshop Edmonton

Workshop for Native American kids in the First Nation cultural center in Edmonton

Lenten Reflections about the Power of Confession of Sins

” There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3; 22-24)

It was question in our community: “Should we talk about sins of Catholic Church, special sins of priests and members of religious communities?”. We ask also if there are more sins today that in the ancient time. Nobody has obligation to confessing sins in public. Also nobody has rights to judge others. There is tendency in Church to hiding difficult information to avoid public scandals and to protect people from loosing faith or respect to Church. However in the same moment there are five things important to good confession:
(1) Examination of Conscience; (2) Sorrow for having offended God; (3) A resolution of sinning no more; (4) Confession of our sins; (5) Satisfaction or penance.

I personally believe that there is less abuse in Church today than in the ancient time. Abuse in Church is just more known to the general public because is more difficult to hide information. Power of church is more limited and the new young priest and religious people have more pure motivation to the religious service.

I also believe that this is OK to talk about sins of the Church servants. This is not to judge anybody, but because we can learn from the mistakes of other people to avoid them in our lives. Examination of conscience can help us understand what we are doing wrong or what some of our (limited number) of members do wrong. This help us understand why it was happened and how to avoid this. We can sorrow for having offended God as a Church and make resolution to sinning no more.

Confessions of the sins is very important. Confession means full understanding and naming the sins. If sin is public or if there are many victims in the society, public apology is important. This can help understand that perpetrators are conscious about the sin and willing not to repeat this mistake again. In many cases form of compensation for the victims is also important. This showing that we are humans who respect others and taking full responsibility for our life and behavior. This make us grow as a people and help to grow others. This can help not only healing the victims but also heal all of us as a community of Church.

When I’m talking about this I have in mind one monastery in South Dakota, USA. I prefer not to mention the name of the community or name of the monk. I’m only willing to learn from this story. One of the monks (addicted to alcohol) was guilty of sexual abuse of the Native American school kids. Why it was possible? I think that reasons was following: (1) It was country monastery, away from villages and with limited contact with the world. (2) Abusive monk was sick person – means addicted to alcohol. (3) Indian children was away from home with no possibility to talk to parents (4) Rank of Native Americans has lower rank than people European origin. They was called “savage”.

What problem was solved? After victims ask for compensation the abusive monk (already in age 71) was moved to another place, away from monastery. Monastery give formal apology to the victims, but at the same moment they do everything to not to give any information to the public. Monastery was closed five years ago (in 2012) because only few old monks left and it was nobody young to join. Place was sold to group of lay Christians and serving now as a retreat center.

What we can learn from this. Sexual misconduct of priest popular in media today is really very rare in Church and less possible that in time when Church have had more power. However there is still enough power in the Church to bring harm and disaster inside and outside of the religious communities. Only the virtue of humility and other great Benedictine virtues practice with care can save us from this. Special humility is important. This is the most noble virtue which helping us respect others and attracting respect from others at the same moment. I have notice that more noble people in my life was more humble at the same moment. They just have no reason to search for nobility anymore, but was interested to serve others instead. I will learn to be more humble starting from this Easter. God help me and bless me in this resolution.

We will pray to Jesus on the cross to forgive our sins protect us from sins and give us peace this Easter and forever.

Blue Cloud
Photo of mentioned above monastery taken by author of this blog in 2016

New House and New Mission

Our community started from weekly meetings in room belonging to non-profit organization. Starting from January this year we have our own home in West Edmonton. What we can do with this wonderful gift? Is time to review our mission and expand our service.

There are two needs in Edmonton community ready to our service:

1. Integration with Native Americans.
There are over 70 000 of citizens belonging to Canadian First Nation living in Edmonton. There is tendency now to leaving Reservations and getting job in the city.
There is general tendency in young generation to leave country and suburbs to enjoy rich cultural life, comfort in the cities and better access to education. Indian youth are just the same Canadian youth with the similar dreams. Cities are ready now to welcome them and give equal opportunity.  Our community members will support and facilitate this process. We have in our house enough space to start Leadership Workshops for youth and to cooperate with Native American organizations in Edmonton. This mission is special important to the First Nation members of our community.

2. Integration between Psychology and Spirituality.
Recent research show that over 50% of patients with psychological problems searching for help in spiritual leaders or expecting from health professionals dealing with spiritual problems. This is a good opportunity to cooperation between spiritual community and health care professionals.
Our community starting now art therapy workshops to integrate psychology, spirituality and open to artistic expression of problems, obstacles, goals, dreams and solutions.

God lead us and give your blessings in this missions

UNeducation+Coloring+Book+(low+res)_Page_01Picture – A good example of healing by creative activity. Book by Jason EagleSpeaker from Calgary (Alberta) about experience of generation of his parents. This is the cover of coloring book version. Full book is available in Amazon:

 

 

 

 

Is this any progress in the World?

USB wall

I’m looking at USB port located very convenient way in the wall of my home and this provoking to to reflections about progress in the World. If we are talking about progress we usually have in mind technology, science or the economy. But what about moral progress?

My answer is optimistic: Yes! I believe that many events from the past just can’t be happened today. There is still a lot to do, however understanding mistakes of previous generations and have courage to apologize is the first step to the positive change and the first step of avoiding the same mistakes again. A good example of this are Veterans who have ask Native Americans for forgiveness at Standing Rock in December 2016.

As a Benedictine Sister I will apologize Native Americans for abuse in Catholic residential schools. I will not feel rights to continue my Benedictine journey if I don’t do this.

Psychological research in Canada and the USA link the boarding school traumas of abuse, neglect and separation from family and culture with very high rates of suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence and ever health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Native Americans in USA still need financial compensation for Boarding Schools. Canadian Indian Boarding Schools survivors already get financial compensation, but according to lawyers there is not legal possibilities to ask for the same in USA. All what we can do is just healing post-traumatic stress (PTSD). But we can always apologize and promise never do this again. This apology can be a sign of our moral progress and the growing level of the perfection of our conscience.