News from the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery
from the current exhibit  "Cultural Incarnation as Proclamation: Paintings of He Qi"
 open 9a-6p through Apr. 30, 2017
Apr. 11-24, 2017
Words to the Wise
"We are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is, when we live with these truths."
                                       Desmond Tutu

Coming Up . . .
Carol Rennie
A Guided Journey through the Triduum
Thurs., Apr. 13, 3p thru Sat., Apr. 15, 9p
S. Carol Rennie OSB
$160 includes lodging and meals
Come enter the silence and experience the rich liturgies of the Triduum Retreat with the monastic community at the Benedictine Center with St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul, Minnesota. These three days commemorate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. This Holy Week begins at 3 p.m. on Holy Thursday and ends at 7 p.m. on Holy Saturday so you are able to be back home with your friends for Easter Day. Register online .
Poems for the Earth
Thurs., Apr. 20, 7-9p
Victor Klimoski
Freewill offering

Poems for the Earth is an evening of reflection on the mystery of change symbolized by the arrival of a new season.  From the opening mediation to the imaginative creation of a group narrative about change, poems by wonderful writers will invite us into the breath-taking renewal Spring embodies. Come and be refreshed..  Register online.
How Can I Care for God's Creation? 
Sun., Apr. 23, 1-3p
Deacon Glenn Skuta
Freewill offering

Deacon Glenn Skuta is giving a workshop at the Benedictine Center in Maplewood based on Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home.  Participants will explore what this document means to the world and to their own lives as they serve God by caring for God's people and creation. 

He is a deacon for Corpus Christi and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Churches in Roseville and has worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for 27 years, currently as director of the its Watershed Division.  Deacon Glenn was instrumental in installing solar panels on Transfiguration School and Oakdale City Hall. His family was awarded the City of Oakdale's "Green Acorn Award" in 2011 for their environmental stewardship.

A freewill offering will be accepted:  Call 651.777.7251, register online, or email
Virginia Matter
Hermitage Retreat
Fri., Apr. 21, 7p thru Sun., Apr. 23, 1p
S. Virginia Matter OSB
$150 includes lodging and meals
After a common orientation, participants spend the weekend in silence as they read, pray, meditate, and rest in the hospitality of the monastery. Limit 6 participants.  Register online.

A Day of Quiet and Solitude
Sat., Apr. 22, 9a-4p
S. Virginia Matter OSB
For little more than the cost of food, this opportunity provides those who are new to personal retreats or St. Paul's Monastery an opportunity to explore how one might spend a day of quiet at the monastery. After a tour and introductory session with S. Virginia Matter OSB, guests enjoy a private room, prayer with the monastic community, lunch, and access to the monastic library, art exhibits, and grounds. Limited to 6. Questions welcome.  Register online.
Condensed School of Lectio Divina
Fri., Jul. 14, 7p thru Sun., Jul. 16, 1p
Sam Rahberg and staff
$100 commuters,  $150 shared lodging,  $200 single

The Condensed School of Lectio Divina adapts the Benedictine Center's keystone experience retreat into a shorter, less-expensive format. The core teachings and the monastic experience remains intact.  Sam Rahberg, in cooperation with S. Carol Rennie OSB and S. Virginia Matter OSB, leads five teaching sessions that distill the essentials of sustained lectio divina, making this an excellent introduction to the practice or a good review for past participants in the School of Lectio Divina. Maximum 20 participants as room arrangements allow.  Register online.

Support the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery
Every gift, no matter how great or small, helps the Sisters welcome guests in need of sacred space. Make a donation online today or send a check payable to St. Paul's Monastery. Please indicate your support specifically for the Benedictine Center.

St. Paul's Monastery| Benedictine Center support| 2675 Benet Road, St. Paul, MN 55109

Great Conversation Highlights:  Speaking As Though Every Word Mattered

 by Samuel Rahberg


This collection of simple exercises is based on a workshop by the same title originally hosted at the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery. The ideas draw from chapter three of Enduring Ministry: Toward a Lifetime of Christian Leadership. I am grateful to my companions for the ways these insights were sharpened by our conversation.

Conversation flourishes when people are attentive to the impact of their words. Just talking, filling up airspace with words, can derail shared meaning and even create barriers to mutual learning. St. Benedict wrote in the  Rule about the importance of what we might call "measured speech." It is an invitation to be attentive to what we want to say, how we say it, and how we learn from our conversation partners whether we have been heard. Speaking and listening, when exercised well together, serve to deepen relationships and further the common good.
This reflection aims to help readers get practical with speaking and listening as disciplines we dare not take for granted. Through reflection and practice, I am convinced, we can cultivate our commitment to measured speech by identifying the mutual purpose, prune our words with kindness and clarity, and harvest the fruit of purposeful conversation. 

Cultivate commitment to measured speech by identifying the mutual purpose

There are some challenges we share in speaking and listening. For example, we may be distracted from listening by thinking about what we will say next, a conversation can become sidetracked from its original purposes, or feelings like anxiety or impatience can increase the intensity of a situation to the point of discomfort. As the authors of  Crucial Conversations (New York: McGraw Hill, 2012) point out, one response to such challenges is seeking out the "mutual purpose" (76-78). This means staying in touch with the real reason we initiate any important conversation. Clarity about the mutual purpose can help us listen with more curiosity, stay focused on the most important topics, and attend to our feelings within a broader context.

Mutual Purpose Exercise
  • Call to mind a conversation that you have been waiting or wanting to have.
  • Take a few minutes to begin making a list of the possible reasons for having this conversation. They need not be right or wrong, or even high-minded to be helpful at this point. Simply begin compiling a list of reasons.
  • Now use the basic form below to sort your reasons a bit. What reasons are high value for you, but low value for the other? Which are low value for you but important to the other?, etc. What we're looking for is at least one high value reason you both share.
Low value (to me) High value (to me)
Low value (to you)
High value (to you)

Read on for the other two exercises . . .

Six Word Stories from Measured Speech (used with permission)

Michelle Huber
Deeply grounded, 
reaching outward, 
fruit-bearing tree.

Joanne Sorenson

Brooke Nielsen
One word
has meaning
that ripples.
open 9a-6p daily until Apr. 30

For many Chinese people Christianity is a Western religion.  In his work, He Qi represents Jesus as Chinese - a Jesus who speaks their language, is part of their culture, and is one of them.  The vibrant colors of his art mirror the greater story of God's conspiring with humanity for the purposes of God's Shalom. Learn more about Art and Spirituality at the Benedictine Center.

Love and Tenderness in Action: The Vision of Pope Francis
Presenter: Vincent Smiles, Ph.D.
Apr. 20,  6-9p - Saint Frances Cabrini Church, Minneapolis, MN
Apr. 28,  8:30a-1p - Emmaus Hall, Saint John's University

2017 Edition of the Benedictine Center's Listen
Download a PDF copy  of the Benedictine Center's latest publication to  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 the year, please email the Benedictine Center.
Recommended Reading
The Gospel of John in Poem and Image

A collection of fifty-six reader's poems, combined with twenty-six original pieces of art printed in full color. Available online.
Margin Notes
Poems of the ongoing puzzlement over navigating the waters of daily life. Available online
Enduring Ministry: Toward a Lifetime of Christian Discipleship
Supporting and empowering women and men for lasting and effective Christian leadership. Available online .
The Way Forward:
A Collection of Benedictine Inspirations
Timeless meditations connecting Benedictine wisdom to everyday life. Available in print and digital editions.
Lamentation o f
the Written Word
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
Power, Control and Pluralism: Being Church in a Secular Age
Presenter: William Cahoy, Ph.D.
May 11, 6-9p - Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Maple Grove, MN

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.