Foolish Fears of The Night Before The First Day of School

It’s the night before the first day of school and it is debatable who might be more nervous—my freshman students beginning their high school experience tomorrow or me, a 21-year veteran teacher.

I love starting a school year for lots of reasons—“Every day is an opportunity to embrace “newness”—new technology, new family and social dynamics, new attitudes, new behaviors, new teaching strategies, new curriculum. I am a teacher with experience, and yet I still have so much to learn. I dance between both realms.” (excerpt from “Why I Teach”)

SoulFul Teaching
SoulCollage® card: My vision of what teaching would be like, in my idealistic naiveté, is represented by the black and white, old-fashioned image—students with smiles on their faces, eagerly waiting to learn; happy, compliant, and respectful, mesmerized by every word I said.
The reality is that teaching is a more “colorful” role than I had expected.

It’s the “so much to learn” part that makes me anxious. Each school year, there is the nervousness that goes with meeting new students. But this school year, I move into a new classroom with brand-spanking new computers to teach a new Digital Design class. I will need to learn Adobe software programs throughout the semester, often just a day or two before I teach my students. I am also cooperating with a new student teacher as she begins a career in education.

“Embracing newness” feels a little scary right now and, truth be told, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to answer student questions, that there will be problems I cannot solve, that I won’t be knowledgeable enough, that I won’t look and feel like a good teacher.

In many ways, this fear is a good thing—if I didn’t have some healthy fear, perhaps I wouldn’t be conscientious about planning and preparing. A healthy fear motivates me to provide the best educational experience for my students. This kind of fear can be useful information in many situations to move us forward.

But, fear can also be an indicator that something is not right, either within us or in our environment. We can become immobilized by fear, overwhelmed by what could happen that is out of our control.  Feeling incapable of escaping it, this kind of fear is a prison.

Recently, Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of the Benedictine Abbey of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, shared that he was struck by these lines when chanting the morning Office, “May angry words and foolish fears, Be exorcised by heartfelt tears.”


He writes, “Yes, fears, for a Christian, are always foolish. Why should we be afraid? Of whom should we be afraid? ‘What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?’ says St. Paul (Rom 8:35).

Of course, when we look with concerns on what is going on in the world: we might have some fears. I am not saying that there are no justified fears. Sometimes they function to warn us or to bring us the right energy level, for example, stage fright. Still, in the end, fears are foolish if we deeply trust in God.” Read Fr. Mauritius’ post “Foolish Fears.”

control and faith.jpg

Sometimes I forget that trusting God really works—it may not predict or change an outcome, but my fears are calmed. Sometimes I think that my efforts, combined with worry, can somehow accomplish more than trusting in God can. I choose control over faith. I choose foolish fearfoolish because it is impossible to control everything anyway. I can plan, do my best, and, then, trust in God. I need not be a slave to fear. 

The song reminds me: 

I am no longer a slave to fear / I am a child of God / You drowned my fears in perfect love / You rescued me / And I will stand and sing/ I am a child of God.

God knows we fear. “The best way to control fear is to offer it to God… In Holy Scripture, it says 365 times, “Do not be afraid.” …Fear of fear is a vicious circle that ends in panic. How can I control my fear? I can’t. Let God control my fear.” (Fr. Mauritius Wilde, OSB, “The remedy for fear is love” podcast)

God knows we can become a slave to fear. The remedy is love. We cannot overcome fear with fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

So this night before school starts I surrender my fear and anxiety, trusting that this new school year will unfold as the 21 years before have—uniquely, organically, mysteriously, and not without problems. And all shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

HR#16 “The remedy for fear is love” – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B



2019 Benedictine Pilgrimage Opportunity: Germany, Austria and Switzerland!

WHAT: 2019 Benedictine Pilgrimage with Fr. Volker Futter and Benedictine Oblates of Christ the King Priory

WHO: Open to Oblates, Friends of St. Benedict Center, Anyone! Feel free to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with your friends and family!

WHERE: GERMANY, AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND including Münsterschwarzach, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Chiemsee, Stams, Einsiedeln, Lake Constance, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Rüdesheim, Cologne, Neuss, Düsseldorf, and more.

DATE: June 17– July 2, 2019

COST: Approximately $4,790.00 per person, double occupancy, (single supplement: $400.00) Official cost coming August 10. Required deposit: $500

Day 01: Monday, 17 06 2019d
Arrival Frankfurt- Airport
Upon arrival, we will be met by our tour guide Fritz Minhard, who will escort us to our deluxe motor-coach. We will drive to Münsterschwarzach Abbey, where we will check in to the guesthouse. The remainder of the day is at our leisure. In the evening, we will have a welcome get-together and dinner. (D)
Overnight in Münsterschwarzach

Day 02: Tuesday 18 06 2019
Pommersfelden – Banz – Vierzehnheiligen – Bamberg – Volkach
After breakfast, we will meet to pick up our bus and drive first to the beautiful Pommersfelden castle. We will enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful former aristocratic house. After the visit, we will drive to the baroque Basilica of Vierzehnheiligen and then to Schloß Banz. On the return journey, we will also visit the famous Bavarian town of Bamberg. In the evening we will be visiting the vinery of the Kirch family and also have our dinner there. (B,D)
Overnight in Münsterschwarzach

Day 03: Wednesday, 19 06 2019
Rothenburg – Ulm – Augsburg – St. Ottilien
Our next full day in Germany takes us South from Münsterschwarzach. The first stop on this day will be in the beautiful medieval town of Rothenburg. You will see the famous town hall and St. James Church during a guided tour of the town. Afterward, you will be driving via Ulm (Stop) and Augsburg (Stop) to St. Ottilien, where you will stay in the guesthouse of the Abbey for the next two nights.  (B, D) Overnight in St. Ottilien

Day 04: Thursday, 20 06 2019
Ettal, Wieskirche, Oberammergau and Tutzing
After breakfast, we head to the Alps for a visit of the Abbey of Ettal, where Mass will take place. After a lunch break in Oberammergau, we will travel to the most beautiful “Wieskirche”, the masterpiece of the great church builder Dominikus Zimmermann. In the afternoon we will continue to Tutzing at Starnberg Lake to visit the Benedictine sister’s monastery. We will join the sisters for an evening meal. (B, D) Overnight in the St. Ottilien Abbey guesthouse


Day 05: Friday, 21 06 2019
Garmisch – Innsbruck – St. Johann
In the morning we leave for St. Ottilien to start the journey to Austria. First visit in the picturesque town of Garmisch is in the cards. Then we go into the Austrian Tyrol to see the Olympic City of Innsbruck. In the afternoon we continue your trip further east to St. Johann. (B, D) Overnight in Hotel Sport Austria in St. Johann in Tirol (Austria)

Day 06: Saturday, 22 06 2019
After a short hour´s coach ride you will reach the city of Salzburg, where we will first visit St. Peter´s Abbey for Mass. After a short walking tour through the Oldtown, we enjoy lunch in the “Peterskeller”! There will be some free time before driving back to our hotel. (B, L, D) Overnight in Hotel Sport Austria in St. Johann in Tirol (Austria)

Day 07: Sunday, 23 06 2019
Chiemsee Islands
For a day you will go back to Bavaria to its largest lake, the “Chiemsee”! A short boat ride will take us to the Fraueninsel, where we celebrate Mass in the Benedictine abbey. Afterwards, there will be free time for lunch and to walk around the island. In the afternoon we travel to the neighboring “Herreninsel” to see the palace of Herrenchiemsee, built by “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Later in the afternoon, we travel back to the hotel in St. Johann. (B, D) Overnight in Hotel Sport Austria in St. Johann in Tirol, (Austria)

Day 08: Monday, 24 06 2019
St. Johann – Stams – Uznach – Einsiedeln
En-route to Switzerland, we will visit the Cistercian Abbey of Stams, situated in the Tyrolean Upper Inn Valley. Afterwards, we cross the Arlberg mountains and continue via Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein into Switzerland to the little village of Uznach to visit the abbey there for mass and dinner. Then we will travel to our hotel in Einsiedeln. (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Einsiedeln area

Day 09: Tuesday, 25 06 2019
Einsiedeln – Pilatus – Lucerne – Lake of Constance
After a morning mass in Einsiedeln, today´s trip will take you into the heart of Switzerland to the well-known town of Lucerne, situated at the foot of Pilatus mountain and by the lake of the same name. After a trip up the mountain, there will be some time to explore the town and to walk across the famous Chapel Bridge. In the afternoon you will continue to the area of Lake Constance, where you will be spending the next two nights! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Lake Constance area

Day 10: Wednesday, 26 06 2019
Reichenau Island – Constance – Meersburg
In the morning you will visit the island of Reichenau, where Mass will be held. The afternoon will be spent visiting Meersburg, another picturesque town along the lakeshore! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Lake Constance area

Day 11: Thursday, 27 06 2019
Lake of Constance – Freiburg – Speyer – Heidelberg
This morning you will be leaving the lakeshore and continue into Germany´s Black Forest. The first stop will be in Freiburg, where you will visit the Münster. Afterwards, the trip takes you to Speyer, where you will visit another of the beautiful Roman cathedrals of Germany. Finally, you reach Heidelberg, the famous student’s town for your overnight stay! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Heidelberg

Day 12: Friday, 28 06 2019
Heidelberg – Mainz – Jakobsberg – Rüdesheim
After a morning visit to Heidelberg´s castle, to enjoy the view over the town, you will drive to Mainz to visit the next of the Imperial cathedrals. Later you will visit the abbey of Jakobsberg for Mass. The day ends in the famous wine-town of Rüdesheim, where you will be spending the next night! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Rüdesheim

Day 13: Saturday, 29 06 2019
St. Hildegard – Rüdesheim – Koblenz -Neuss
In the morning you will visit Hildegard von Bingen’s Abbey, high over the Rhine valley. After church, you will go back into the valley to enjoy a boat trip along the Rhine River to St. Goar. The banks along the river are studded with castles and ruins. Also, you will pass the famous Loreley rock on your way. Then you will board your coach again and continue your journey via Bonn, to the town of Neuss for the final two nights in Germany! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Neuss

Day 14: Sunday, 30 06 2019
Neuss – Cologne – Düsseldorf
For your final day in Germany you will visit the city of Cologne, After Mass, you will enjoy a tour of Cologne Cathedral. On the way back to Neuss, you will also stop in Düsseldorf for a stroll along the famous promenade, that is the KÖ, Düsseldorf´s longest shopping street! In the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner together in a local brewery in Neuss! (B, D) Overnight in Hotel in Neuss

Day 15: Monday, 01 07 2019
Neuss – Düsseldorf – Airport
Today you will be transferred to Düsseldorf airport for your departure for your homebound flight.

 Transportation by a deluxe motor-coach
with reclining seats, refrigerator, air-condition and WC/wash-cabin
 Transfers, excursions, and round-trips as per itinerary
 Service of a friendly and experienced bus-driver
 Service of a friendly, experienced and English-speaking tour-escort
 10 nights accommodation in first-class hotels (3 & 4-star-category)
 All rooms with private facilities
 Daily buffet-breakfast included
 Porterage service in/out in all those hotels booked by AWH
 3-course-evening dinners or lunches in hotels or in restaurants nearby,
 One special lunch in Salzburg, Peterskeller
 One special dinner in the wine tavern in Fahr/Volkach
 Farewell evening/dinner on last evening in Neuss
 All road taxes, local taxes, tolls, parking fees, etc.

Local, licensed and English-speaking local guides for sightseeing:
 Bamberg
 Cologne Cathedral
 Innsbruck
 Salzburg

Orientation-tours through several other towns escorted by your tour-escort
 Fraueninsel
 Lucerne
 Freiburg
 Heidelberg
 Constance
 Freiburg
 Heidelberg

Entrance fees, guided tours, cruises, and other special arrangements:
 Entrance and Guided tour of Pommersfelden castle
 Entrance and Guided tour of Herrenchiemsee castle
 Guided tour of Stams Abbey and library
 Boat cruise from Konstanz to Meersburg
 River cruise on the Rhine
 Lake cruise on Lake Chiemsee
 Guided tour of Cologne Cathedral
 Sightseeing-stops at Mainz, Garmisch, Rothenburg, Ulm, Augsburg, etc.
 Cog-wheel train and cable car ride up Pilatus mountain

Mass and church-services (TBA by Father Volker):
 Münsterschwarzach
 Bamberg
 St. Ottilien
 Ettal
 St. Johann in Tirol (Fritz)
 Salzburg St. Peter
 Fraueninsel
 Uznach
 Einsiedeln
 Reichenau
 Speyer
 Jakobsberg
 St. Hildegard
 Cologne

CONTACT FR. VOLKER TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT:  402.352.2177 or email at


Community: To Be Fashioned and Tried

June 2018 Oblate Lectio Divina and Discussion

Topic: Community

We continued our discussion on Community from the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 72 using 1 Corinthians 12: 12-30 for Lectio Divina.

christs body

Words and phrases that resonated with oblates became the springboard for our discussion—

  • seem to be weaker are all the more necessary
  • God placed the parts…as he intended
  • if one part suffers, all parts suffer with it
  • baptized in one body
  • there may be no division in the body
  • all given to drink of one spirit
  • now you are Christ’s body and individually parts of it
  • many are one body
  • our less presentable parts are treated w/ greater propriety
  • eye to hand—I do not need you
  • if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy

From the very first book of the Bible, we hear it is not good for us to live alone. One of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill” could be understood metaphorically—that when we cut someone out of our community, we are killing that person’s role. There is a loss when we don’t honor each person in the community—we need all the parts.

When we judge that someone (a part) is unimportant and exclude them, we miss part of our body. Consider the marginalized in our society—the elderly, the poor, and the immigrant, among others—who are seen as less honorable or less presentable to the group. With our own perception and judgment, we kill off segments of the population that are the body of Christ.

Each of us has a special place in the body for our own community. But, still, we ask ourselves, in frustration—do I really need others? Do they really need me? But, yes, we are made to live together; no man is an island. We need others to realize our own weaknesses and strengths. For example, each of us in our oblate group has a role. We complement each other with our individual talents—we cannot all be the arm; we need the whole body to work together. Our group grows in relationship when we honor the talents of others and work together.


The desire to belong is natural, but it takes effort to “get along.” Some communities we are born into. We have little choice about our belonging—our family, our country, our neighborhood. Other communities we choose to belong because of interests or other connections. Whether by choice or not, we might question how we fit into a community,  but simply being who I am is a contribution. Each person can touch our lives and when part of the body dies, it can leave an emptiness. The recent suicides of well-known Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have left a hole in our greater community, and remind us of others that we have lost. The whole body is in pain if someone is hurting. This is a good reminder that we need to listen to each other, a core Benedictine value. We need to give and receive, and assume the responsibility of reaching out to others who may be in pain. So often it is impossible for some to ask for help.

Being part of a community can be complicated—there can be fear of rejection or being left out, jealousy, or self-inflicted blocks to forming or improving relationships—but it’s through a commitment of stability and the Benedictine model of community from which many blessings flow. We think we must be independent and able to stand on our own feet, but we must learn, to practice giving and receiving emotional, physical and spiritual support. “A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present, sanctifying it in accordance with the Father’s plan. There are times when, by a gift of the Lord’s love, we are granted, amid these little details, consoling experiences of God.” (Gaudete Et Exsultate)


We also must hear what others are saying to us. If we do not have someone to admonish us—we can become our own God. We need others to be “fashioned and tried.” (St. John of the Cross) Joan Chittister writes, “We don’t join groups to lose ourselves but to become our best selves…Community is the only antidote for narcissism.”

There is unity in diversity if we choose to recognize it—there is a reason we are all different but living in one community. Each of us plays our part. The Holy Trinity is our exemplar of perfect community—each part of the Trinity is individual and unique, yet acts in perfect harmony. “The common life, whether in the family, the parish, the religious community or any other, is made up of small everyday things. This was true of the holy community formed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which reflected in an exemplary way the beauty of the Trinitarian communion. It was also true of the life that Jesus shared with his disciples and with ordinary people.” (Gaudete Et Exsultate)

May this be our prayer as we grow spiritually through the communities that we belong to. Consider the groups that have helped form your life and have influenced you—either positively or negatively. How have you given and received God’s love in a community?


Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 72

New American Bible, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30

Wisdom Distilled in the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today, Joan Chittister

Study Guide for the Rule of St. Benedict with Reflections for Oblates and All Who Seek God, Maria-Thomas Beil, OSB

Gaudete Et Exsultate, Pope Francis









Images of Faith: My Grandma and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Images are so powerful. They tap into the pool of memories, both personal and universal, that are deep within us. One image can be understood in so many ways—for different people, faiths, and cultures or for the same person over time.

Recently when the Sacred Heart of Jesus popped out in my Facebook newsfeed, memories of my grandma came flooding back. 

sacred heart of jesus 1

She had a framed image of the Sacred Heart between her living room and her kitchen. As a young child, I remember wondering why the heart had fire and blood on it…and, quite honestly, I was a little afraid of the image. I never asked about it and she never said anything either. Same with the rosary on her nightstand (pictured below). Or the prayer cards on her dresser. But I remember them. Those images communicated a deep faith in Catholicism and belief in and devotion to Jesus that I intuitively knew she had.


We didn’t talk about faith much, but she always encouraged her sons, their wives, and grandchildren to go to Church and she was so proud when I received my First Communion and Holy Confirmation. Her faith in God was important to her but she didn’t have to use many words to communicate that.Communion Confirmation Continue reading “Images of Faith: My Grandma and the Sacred Heart of Jesus”

Living in Community: Where we are is Where we grow

May 2018 Oblate Lectio Divina and Discussion

Topic: Community


“Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10) supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another.” (RB:72)

Learning to live well in community is the foundation of Benedictine spirituality and the topic of Chapter 72 in the Rule of St. Benedict.  “A person living in solitary retirement will not readily discern his own defects, since he has no one to admonish and correct him with mildness and compassion.” (Beil, Study Guide) Continue reading “Living in Community: Where we are is Where we grow”

Suicide: That Voice In Your Head is a Liar

I don’t know Kate Spade. I don’t own any of her purses or other products. I’m not fashion-conscious by any stretch of the imagination—my daughter/personal shopper will vouch for that. But the news that Kate Spade—a beautiful, wealthy, creative woman—has ended her life has me in tears.


There are many unanswered questions for those left behind when someone takes their own life. I wonder about this woman I do not know. Were there demons in her head that told her she wasn’t enough, that there was no hope for healing her pain, that she was a burden to those who love her? I wonder about her husband, her child and her close friends. I wonder if she reached out for help. I wonder why her love for her daughter seems not to have been enough to override her feelings of despair. So many questions…

I immediately reached out to my own daughter—“If you ever ever ever feel that kind of depression or desperation, please please please reach out…It is never true—that evil voice in our head that says life isn’t worth it or that pain cannot be overcome. If there is a devil, that is it, that voice. It is a liar.” I thought of a former student who loved Kate Spade and her products—I sent her a message too. “This is shocking news but a testament that no one is immune.”


So often we think that the rich and famous, or educated, funny, spiritual (or any of the qualities we covet), do not struggle with depression and despair. But they are human, too. Even Kate Spade, who chose to end her life, must have felt she had no choice. There is a mystery to suicide. There is much we do not know or understand, but we should not blame those involved and/or think that it happens only to others. Continue reading “Suicide: That Voice In Your Head is a Liar”

Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ: Hospitality and The Holy Trinity

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he began, as we made the Sign of the Cross.

A few months after we had moved into our new home, one of my favorite monks, Fr. Thomas Leitner joined us for a special dinner and house blessing. After the introductory prayers and Scripture readings, Fr. Thomas sprinkled Holy Water that had been blessed at the Easter Vigil in each of our rooms—the living room, bedrooms, kitchen, upstairs, downstairs and even next door at Al and Beth’s house, our townhouse roofmates—and a little extra splash for our loyal Dachsy-Poo, Bailey. Our daughter, who was finishing her last year in college, would spend a few months living in our new home, but mostly it would become our empty nest. This blessing for our home was also a blessing for the next chapter in our lives.

Building Hacienda Drive.jpg

Fr. Thomas also gave us a special gift, a replica of Andrei Rublev’s Holy Trinity Icon. An icon, an image or religious picture, communicates a deeper spiritual meaning often used in prayer and meditation for Christians throughout the world. It was a special image for him, used as the holy card for his ordination and First Mass in 1992.*  He enthusiastically shared with us why he also felt it represented how we would welcome those who entered as guests and the hospitality we would extend in our new home. Continue reading “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ: Hospitality and The Holy Trinity”

O Holy Spirit, You are the Mighty Way

O Holy Spirit, you are the mighty way in which everything that is in the heavens, on the Earth, and under the Earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness. -St. Hildegard of Bingen

holy spirit

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place….All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.”—Acts 2:1

They came from many different places and, yet, they understood each other. They were connected as one in Spirit, united in understanding by the One and Holy Life-Giving Breath of God. Despite their diversity, each person had a uniquely mystical experience. Their different languages were not erased, yet unity was accomplished.

It’s as if for this one day, in this one place, God blessed our diversity and showed that our differences need not divide.  It’s as if for this one day, in this one place, it was “on earth as it is in heaven.” All people understood what the other said. They saw themselves as a part of the whole, that their God—the Giver of Life, the Great Communicator and Unifier—resides in them and the other. Continue reading “O Holy Spirit, You are the Mighty Way”

125 Years: A Big Day for Benedictines!

Celebrating the 125th Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation, Pope Francis addressed Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, Fr. Prior Mauritius Wilde and other Benedictines, expressing his gratitude “for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years.”


Sant’ Anselmo, the seat of the Benedictine Confederation, is the home of the Abbot Primate and eighty monks from over thirty countries around the world. It was a thrill for me to visit Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo, for a tour of the academic center, prayers with the monks, and a formal address for the Fourth International Oblate Congress. It was Pope Leo XIII, Fr. Mauritius shared, who said, “You Benedictines need a place in Rome. He saw two things: he certainly saw it was difficult for him to control us Benedictines, so he wanted to have a representative in Rome and he created the office of the Abbott Primate, the highest representative of all Benedictines.”


On April 18, 1893, the first stone of Sant’Anselmo was laid on the Aventine Hill.  “In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we wish to recall the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer, here in Rome”, Pope Francis said. On July 12, 1893, Pope Leo XIII officially established the Benedictine Confederation. Continue reading “125 Years: A Big Day for Benedictines!”

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