Good Zeal

Happy Birthday Sacred Heart Chapel!

On this date in 1931, a Solemn Pontifical High Mass was held dedicating our chapel “to the honor and service of Almighty God.” Today, as we do every year on October 11, we celebrated with a special anniversary Mass and remembered with deep appreciation our Sisters who first envisioned this beautiful chapel and who had the dedication to bring their dream to fruition. We also gratefully remembered the benefactors who helped make possible this grace-filled space which has held the prayer of our monastic community for so many years.

St. Benedict describes the monastery as a school of the Lord’s service. To borrow the image, it could be said that a monastic chapel is a school of the Lord’s beholding. It is a place set apart to listen, to gaze, to attend, to apprehend the One who loves us so. Here we behold God in Word and Sacrament, in speech and silence, in lament and longing, in praise and penance. We behold God in the beauty of the chapel, and we behold God in the simple tasks that make and keep it beautiful. We behold the presence of God in those who gather here. We behold the pain and lament of the world as we bring the needs of the world to God.  Over a lifetime of fidelity to monastic prayer in this “school of beholding,” we learn to behold at ever-deepening levels and in ever-widening ways, carrying our beholding far beyond the chapel walls.

This chapel, vast and yet intimate, has held our beholding day after day for nearly eighty years – securely, faithfully, beautifully, and with quiet grace.  Our gratitude is unbounded. 

Postscript: Sister Mary Ruth, our community archivist, placed on display in the dining room today a copy of the program from the 1931 dedication. Following are a couple excerpts from the program notes:

“Finally all was ready. On June the sixth, 1930, – which was First Friday – the ground for the chapel was blessed and broken. Only eyewitnesses of the ceremony can realize with what loving enthusiasm each of the dear senior Sisters dug up her spadeful of earth. “

“…our Right Reverend Bishop is here today to ask, through the sacred rites of Dedication, that God will make of this great material edifice a yet greater spiritual edifice: a tower of strength and protection, a fortress of counsel and graces, an ark of sanctification and salvation.”

I might add that “loving enthusiasm” endures, and the “spiritual edifice” continues to grow.

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