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Kathy McNany, OSB

Sister Kathy McNany is a Benedictine Sister of Baltimore and has been growing her monastic heart for 55 years. She is a spiritual director and retreat leader and has served in varied leadership roles in her community and in the Federation of St. Scholastica. Sister Kathy's reflections will offer insight on Scripture and invite you to make the words of the scripture writers your own as you ponder the thoughts and questions that she will offer you each week. 

Sister Kathy's reflections begin the First Week of Advent, December 2, 2018 and continue through the Triduum, April 18, 2019.


The Triduum

April 18-20
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

The Triduum: The Dance of Passion
Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday

Jesus speaks:
When you do these things, remember me.
—1 Corinthians 11:24

Into your hands, I commit my spirit.
—Luke 23:46

A Poem Prayer for Pondering:
A Cradle and a Cross
A cradle and a cross,
And between these, a life.
Bethlehem and Jerusalem...
a birth and a death.

One of “sorrows” who often wept,
One of “joys” who also kept
sensitivity
and compassion,
alive and real.

O God, today let us feel
the surge of that life,
the beauty of that love,
the power of the cross!
In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN

Reflection:
Join in the Dance Holy Week invites us each year into the dance of Passion. The word “Passion” means both ardent love and profound suffering, both of which are intimate parts of the choreography of these holy days.

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Sixth Week of Lent

April 14-17
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Frenzy; Feast of Silence
Tending Life’s Rhythm

Elijah went out and stood on the mountain. Then God went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks. But God was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But God was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
—1 Kings 19:11-13

Be still and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

...taken from Small Graces: the Eloquence of Silence by Kent Nerburn
When the wind stops, it is so loud that everyone pauses to listen.
We hear the rain, but not the falling snow.
The silence of a winter morning is sharper than the silence of a summer dawn.
No meditation better clears the mind than to listen to the shape of the silence that surrounds us. It opens our heart to the unseen, and reminds us that the world is larger than the events that fill our days.

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Fifth Week of Lent

April 7-13
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Busyness; Feast on Holy Leisure
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...
—Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

You must come away to some lonely place all y yourselves and rest awhile; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. —Mark 6: 31

Nurturing the Heart
Read a bit
Listen to a favorite song
Call a friend
Remember a kindness
Help the poor
Keep perspective
Smile broadly
Laugh loudly
Close doors gently
Do what you can
Live gratefully
Relax for a moment
Tease yourself often
Take a quiet walk
Tell God a funny story
—Robert Wicks, Snow Falling on Snow

>>>Read the full post

 


Fourth Week of Lent

March 31 - April 6
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Blindness, Feast on Seeing:
Tending our Vision

Jesus asked the person who was blind, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Sir,” he replied, “let me see again.” Jesus said, “Receive your sight.”
—Luke 18:41-2

Jesus said, “Come and see." —John 1: 35; See also Mark 8: 22-26

Wisdom Tale
—from Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart by Feldman & Kornfield
A man whose axe was missing suspected his neighbor’s son. The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. But the man found his axe while he was digging in the valley, and the next time he saw his neighbor’s son, the boy walked, looked, and spoke like any other child.

>>>Read the full post

 


Third Week of Lent

March 24-30
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Violence, Feast on Hospitality
Tending Relationships

Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love. Speak the truth with heart and tongue. Do not repay one bad turn with another. Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently. Love your enemies. If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead. Endure persecution for the sake of justice. Place your hope in God alone.
—Rule of Benedict 4: 20-31, 41 The Tools for Good Works 

“Stop the wars within yourself. Whatever happens to the heart is the beginning of a revolution.”
— Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily

Luke 15: 11-33 The Story of the Prodigal Son

>>>Read the full post

 


Second Week of Lent

March 17-23
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Fear, Feast on Courage
Tending the Heart

“That which we most desire, is often that which we most fear.”
Peter was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, “This is my son, the Beloved, on whom my favor rests. Listen to him.” When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. “Stand up,” he said, “do not be afraid.” And when they raised their eyes they saw only Jesus.
—Matthew 17: 5-8

A Prayer to Ponder: CROCUS HOPE (author unknown)
It takes courage to be crocus minded.
Lord, I’d rather wait until June, like wise roses,
when the hazards of winter are behind,
and I’m expected, and everything is ready for roses.
But Crocuses? Highly irregular!
Knifing up through hard-frozen ground and snow,
Sticking their necks out because they believe in Spring
and have something personal and emphatic to say about it.
Lord, I am by nature rose-minded, even when I have studied the situation,
and know that there are wrongs that need righting, affirmations that need stating,
and know also that my speaking out may offend for it rocks the boat…
Well, I’d rather wait until June!...

>>>Read the full post

 


First Week of Lent

March 10-16, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Paralysis, Feast on Freedom
Tending Freedom

There came before Jesus a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
—Luke 13: 10-13

And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.
—Rule of Benedict 4:74

A Poem to Ponder by Joyce Rupp (from “The Star in My Heart”)
Inside each of us there awaits a wonder full spirit of freedom
She waits to dance in the rooms of our heart that are closed dark and cluttered
She waits to dance in the spaces where negative feelings
have built barricades and stock piled weapons
She waits to dance in the corners where we still do not believe in our goodness
Inside each of us there awaits a wonder full spirit of freedom
She will lift light feet and make glad songs within us
on the day we open the door of ego and let the enemies stomp out.


>>>Read the full post

 


Week of March 3

March 3-9, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

The life of a monastic should be a continuous Lent...During these days we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence….In other words, let each one deny herself/himself….and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.
—Rule of Benedict , Chapter 49

Benedict wants us to “do something beyond the normal requirement of our lives of our ‘own free will.’ Not forced; ...not required by the system, but taken upon ourselves because we want to be open to the God of darkness as well as to the God of light.”
—Joan Chittister, commentary on RB 49

This is the kind of fast I am after: break the chains of injustice ...and exploitation; ...be avail-able to your family...share your food with the hungry. Do this and your light will shine, your lives turn around….Then you’ll be free to enjoy God.
—Isaiah 58:6-8, 14 The Message


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Week of February 24

February 24-March 2, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

The troubled call out; God hears,
Saves them from distress.

God stays near the broken hearts,
Heals the wounded spirit.

—Psalm 34: 18-19 ICE

Heartbreak may be the very essence of being human,
of being on the journey from here to there,
and of coming to care deeply
for what we find along the way.

—David Whyte, “Consolations”

Let my heart be broken by the things that break God’s heart.
—Bob Pierce

Reflection: It’s All About the Heart (Part IV)
The disciple went to the Wise One who knew the ways of the heart. The disciple asked: “Why do we say that God puts a word ON our hearts instead of IN our hearts?” The Wise One answered: “Because our hearts are often too hard and closed...once broken, God hopes that the word will fall in.” Other wise tales speak about all of us needing some “cracks” so that the light can shine in.
>>>Read the full post


Week of February 17

February 17-23, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Jesus said to them,
“You must come away to a lonely place all by yourselves
and rest for a while.

—Mark 6: 31

I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.

—Hosea 2: 14

A life without a lonely place,
that is a life without a quiet center,
easily becomes destructive.

—Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude

Reflection: It’s All About the Heart (Part III)
February is the shortest month of the year. Perhaps that is so because winter days can weary our hearts, darken our spirits, and touch us with loneliness and longing, and it is tedious to remain in that state. Yet, loneliness, solitude and longing are often the gifts of this time of year. We are tempted to push them away; while at the same time longing for the grace of solitude, because the busy-ness never stops! The loneliness we run from is the very birthplace of the listening heart… “listen, my child with the ear of your heart….” —Rule of Benedict Prologue
>>>Read the full post


Week of February 10

February 10-16, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

First of all, “love God with your whole heart,
your whole soul and all your strength,
and love your neighbor as yourself.”
...Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
the love of Christ must come before all else.
You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge.
Rid your heart of all deceit.
Never give a hollow greeting of peace
or turn away when someone needs your love
...speak the truth with heart and tongue.

—Rule of Benedict 4: 1, 20-27

Drink deeply of the goodness of God.
Know the joy of the mercy of God.

—Psalm 34:8

Reflection:
It’s All About the Heart (Part II) Drink deeply…so begins my prayer each morning. That first cup of coffee that awakens all inside me; I can feel it traveling down and through my body, warm and hot. Even though I like my coffee black, when I saw this image above – the cream in the shape of a heart- that daily ritual became my “call to prayer.” Would that it could be so easy to “drink in the heart of God” as I begin the day!
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Week of February 3

February 3-9, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

LISTEN carefully, my children, to my instructions
and attend to them with the ear of your HEART.
This is advice from one who loves you;
welcome it and faithfully put it into practice.

— Rule of Benedict Prologue 1

Bend my heart to the ways of your own
And keep me from loving what is false.

—Psalm 51: 12

Reflection: It’s All About the Heart (Part I)
February is National Heart Month. In the midst of the month we celebrate Valentine’s day. A whole month and a designated day given over to the heart! Perhaps the heart as a symbol has become too commercialized in our culture, but it does not alter the fact that the heart is the center of human longing, the center of life and love. When one is “heartsick,” literally or figuratively, life is not stable, loving is out of reach, and relationships run cold.
>>>Read the full post


Week of January 27

January 27-February 2, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Do not take fright,” says your God.
“Do not be afraid.”
You have seen how God goes before you,
carrying you as a parent carries a child,
all along the road to the place
where you find yourself now.

—Deuteronomy 1: 29, 31

Reflection:
Along the Road Road signs usually offer assistance along the road. They have always been intriguing to me, because they can also be helpful signposts along life’s path. Before reading any further, look at each sign. What does it say to you as you travel down your road?

PRAYER for THOSE WHO HAVE FAR TO TRAVEL
If you could see the journey whole,
you might never undertake it,
might never dare the first step
that propels you from the place you have known
toward the place you know not.
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Week of January 20

Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore
Kathy McNany, OSB,

Do not be daunted immediately by fear
and run away from the road that leads to salvation.
It is bound to be narrow at the outset.
But as we progress in this way of life and in faith,
we shall run on the path of God’s commandments,
our hearts overflowing with
the inexpressible delight of love.

—Rule of Benedict Prologue 48-49

Reflection: Footprints in the Snow
My eighth grade teacher (who ended up being my novice director when I entered the monastery!) wrote a saying in my autograph book that I have never forgotten:

Your life lies before you
like a path of new fallen snow.
Take care how you tread it,
as every step will show.
 
>>>Read the full post

 


Week of January 13

January 13-19, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away...
A time to be confused, and a time to have clarity;
A time to be weak, and a time to be strong;
A time of inner power, and a time of vulnerability;
A time to seek, and a time to be found;
A time to rage, and a time to embrace gentleness;
A time to know, and a time to accept mystery;
A time to sing, and a time to listen to the melody within;
A time to hold fast to the path you have trod,
and a time to let go and be taken where you would not go;
A time to be lost, and a time to come home to yourself.

— Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 adaptation

Ordinary Time provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the “long haul” of day to day living in the Spirit of Jesus, giving us time to LIVE the mysteries we celebrate at the festive times of the liturgical year. >>>Read the full post


Week of January 6

January 6-12, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

After the wise ones were gone, an angel came to Joseph in a dream.
“Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother.
Stay there until I tell you to return,
because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.
—Matthew 2: 13

Reflection: The Rest of the Story?
The story continues... A Middle Eastern couple are forced by the occupying forces to register in a far off town. The wife is about to give birth to her first child. The couple could find no place to shelter them or take them in. Sheltered finally in a cave surrounded by sheep, cows, and other work animals, they find brief solace before having to flee again, this time for their lives. Pursued by the military/terrorists of their day, they seek refuge in a foreign country. What will they meet? Armed guards? A wall? Will they be refused entry at the border? No papers, rather they come seeking to save their lives, seeking asylum. What if they had been refused entry? Painting of an Egyptian Street Family
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Week of December 30

December 30, 2018 -January 5, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

About that time, some wise ones from the eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem…
“Where is the newborn King of the Jews?
We saw his star as it rose and we have come to worship him.”
...And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.
—Matthew 2: 1-2, 6

Reflection: Wise Darkness
"Each passage offers visions in the darkness.” — Jan Richardson
We hardly ever think of “wise” people being “starry-eyed,” yet these wise ones were just that; following hopes and stars that lured them deeply into night. They traveled in darkness, with only the light of a star to guide them; they followed a dream that led them “home” a very different way. They faced a tyrannical ruler with courage; they bowed down before a king in a manger with utmost humility and love.
>>>Read the full post


Fourth Week of Advent/Christmas Week

December 23 - 29, 2018
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

At that time the Roman Emperor, Augustus,
decreed that a census should be taken up throughout the empire.
Joseph, a descendant of David, had to go to Bethlehem
in Judea, David’s ancient home.
He took with him Mary, his betrothed, who was now obviously pregnant.
While they were there the time came for the baby to be born.
She wrapped her son snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger,
because there was no lodging available for them in the inn.
—Luke 2: 1-7

Reflection: The Risk of Birth
It was Christmas week, 2010, and a call came to the Benedictine sisters at Emmanuel Monastery in Lutherville, MD. Could we house a young woman from Afghanistan, seeking asylum in the U.S.? There was no room in the Asylum House in Baltimore...and the woman is pregnant.
>>>Read the full post


Third Week of Advent

December 16-22, 2018
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together,
while she was still a virgin, she become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph was a good man, and did not want to disgrace her publicly,
so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream.
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.
For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
—Matthew 1: 18-20

Reflection: The Power of the Dream
A man discovers the woman he loves is pregnant…a man in a culture that gives him the right not only to dissolve their bonds of betrothal through divorce, but who also has the right to call for her to be stoned in order to save his honor as a man! The story from this perspective is quite different. This could be a story of patriarchal justice and manly pride. But it isn’t….
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Second Week of Advent

The Annunciation by TannerDecember 9-15, 2018
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth…
to a virgin named Mary.
She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph
of the house of David.
“Greetings, favored woman, the Lord is with you.”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think
what the angel could mean.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will name him Jesus.

—Luke 1:26-31

Reflection: Mary…the unwed pregnant teenager….
Mary was a young girl…perhaps only 13-14 years old. Assuming the role of motherhood is one thing. Being part of the fulfillment of a prophecy for the long awaited Messiah was quite another thing. She was not yet married. Then, as now, in some parts of the Middle East, a young woman could be stoned to death if she was found to be pregnant before her marriage. Her “yes” was no simple assent. It came with much fear, dread and danger.
>>>Read the full post


First Week of Advent

December 2-8, 2018
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

I begin with a story. I speak of mysteries
welling up from ancient depths,
heard and known from our elders.
We must not hide this story from our
children, but tell the wonders of God
to the next generation.

—Ps. 78: 2-4

Reflection: The Power of Story
The psalmist knew that the power of story cannot be underestimated. And all our stories, if they are to have worth, must be born from the journey we are each on. Where I am in my journey creates the story my life tells. To be a person is to have a story. Stories never leave us untouched. The traditions of our faith are contained in stories of ordinary people and their relationships with God….we call them our Sacred Scriptures. Stories have the power to transform us, convert us, energize us, focus us, enlighten us…and we remember them.
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