Sister Cathy Bauer

As I reflect upon my life as a Benedictine, I realize the goodness and blessings that God has given to me. What a humbling experience it is! If it had not been for so many people who have touched my life and continue to support me, I wonder were my journey would have taken me. My reflection helped me to realize that I was born to be a Benedictine, to be nurtured and loved by the sisters here at St. Walburg Monastery. Even before I met them, the yearning was in my heart to seek God in this community.

This faith journey has been one step at a time. The discernment journey is a walk moving one foot in front of the other. By each step we are able to get to the next place. This is how I have seen my journey. This yearning within me has led me to take the small steps that have moved me from my parents’ home in a small Ohio country town to the monastery in Covington, KY.

One step that comes to mind occurred in an Advent Season. As my family was preparing for Christmas we decided to share our blessings with another family by buying gifts for them. It was not a big deal. I was working in the insurance business and a $20 gift did not cause any hardship to me or to my Christmas of giving.

 

We gave the gifts anonymously and Christmas went as usual. But something happened. This simple act of giving sparked a yearning in my heart. This arousal of passion moved me to take another step by volunteering at my parish. Within two years I found that my passion was not livened by being an insurance agent and decided to go back to school to study social service.

By recognizing this passion, I found the future a question: What would it look like? My dream turned from having a specific concrete idea where I would be in five years to just enjoyment in the listening and being in the presence of this inner yearning and taking another step as it came. This freedom brought me into contact with other people who were on this inner search. Being with others nurtured me and helped me to realize the need of community in my life. As I was able to articulate this yearning I had for community, I wondered what it meant.

This journey brought others into my life as well as opportunities. I was invited on a mission trip in Manchester, KY. I met a Benedictine sister who invited me to St. Walburg Monastery. As happened to Moses with the burning bush, God got my attention with the beautiful land on which the monastery sat. What a lovely and peaceful place! It moved my heart to look deeper. This burning within moved me to take another step and consider religious life and to enter.

The discernment journey continued to unfold. While we were preparing for renovation of our chapel, we looked at the way we prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. We decided to pray the Psalms more slowly and provide more silence. I did not think much about this change. But over time I have found myself becoming more comfortable with the silence in my own life and with others. My sense of listening became more vivid. This small step in community provided me the discipline to enhance the listening skills in my ministry.

 

Being a better listener helped me to become more compassionate. This gift of hearing about the journey of others and walking with them through my service at Welcome House and in the vocation ministry at St. Walburg Monastery helped me recognize Christ among us. I saw this happening one evening at Welcome House while we, the women in the shelter and I, were praying. We were sharing how we came to Welcome House. Our journeys had brokenness that brought forth compassion from each of us. It was amazing when we ended the prayer time with the reading of the Gospel story: “Jesus Raising Lazarus from the Tomb.” Upon hearing the words, When Jesus saw her weeping…he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved…Jesus began to weep (John 11:33), we knew Christ was in our midst. Christ’s healing power was present through our listening to each other. And when the Gospel story ended with Christ saying, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44), we knew Christ had helped us to set free the things that kept us apart. We were surely on holy ground.

This mystery of faith, hope and love shines forth in the midst of our listening to one another. Through this I have been changed. The Word of God becomes alive. My prayer life flows into my ministry and my ministry feeds my prayer life. This occurs as life experiences overflow into praying the Psalms by seeing peoples’ faces in the midst of the words. My heart is moved when I hear Christ asking Thomas to touch his wounds and I hear the call to do the same. By touching the wounds of others I touch Christ. What an awesome gift!

Our journey is written in our heart. It is specific to each of us so we can grow in this love of Christ. The future unfolds with one step at a time. The passion within the heart changes my life and continues to call me forth to love as Christ has loved. Through “listening with the ear of the heart” (Rule of St. Benedict), I have come in contact with my true passion where love abounds. It is amazing what love does!