Sorin Books Publishes Sister Macrina’s Spiritual Journals – Arkansas Catholic

‘Open Wide My Heart’ Shows How She Built a Scripture-Based Relationship With God

Posted: May 3, 2022

Maryanne Meyerriecks

Cover of “Open Wide My Heart”, a posthumous collection of Sister Macrina Wiederkehr’s spiritual diaries from 1985-1986.

“Open Wide My Heart”, a posthumous collection of Sister Macrina Wiederkehr’s spiritual diaries from 1985-1986, was published by Sorin Books to coincide with the second anniversary of her death on April 24.

Sister Joyce Rupp, OSM, a well-known author and friend, edited the journals.

Sisters Joyce and Macrina met while graduate students in religious education at the University of St. Thomas in Houston in the 1970s. Over five summers of college, they bonded over their love of God and their desire to spread his love through writing.

Their friendship lasted over 45 years, as both became noted spiritual writers and retreat leaders. In 2005 they collaborated on an award-winning book, “The Circle of Life”, linking the seasons of the soul with the seasons of life.

“So many ideas and ideas sprang from her creative mind. She could reach out and see the spirituality in everything.”

“Macrina’s first book, ‘Seasons of Your Heart,’ grew out of her graduation thesis,” Sister Joyce told Arkansas Catholic. “Writing didn’t come easily to him. She could be distracted, but once seated and calmed down, she could concentrate. So many ideas and ideas sprang from his creative mind. She could reach out and see the spirituality in everything.

When Sister Macrina was diagnosed with brain cancer, Sister Joyce drove from Des Moines to St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith to be with her as she surrendered her life to God. Part of letting go was offering her spiritual journals to her nieces and friends.

“These journals show Macrina’s spiritual growth in her thirties, how she built an intimate relationship with God centered on the scriptures and found God in everyday life,” Sister Joyce said.

Each journal entry is a written record of the day’s Lectio Divina, or holy reading. In Lectio, the reader finds a particular word or phrase in a biblical passage, meditating on it slowly to experience the presence of God. In “Open Wide My Heart,” Sister Macrina revisits common themes in her life, looking at them through the lens of different passages, gaining insights that have comforted her and allowed her to grow.

Readers who have sought wisdom in his books and retreats will find a traveling companion rather than a teacher. Everyone has faced issues like her: a yearning to see the face of God, difficulty surrendering their will to Jesus, dissatisfaction with their imperfections, and a determination to live in the moment.

When her mind is scattered, Sister Macrina finds the pattern of monastic life and regular spiritual practice her compass.

“We do not need to have complete peace and resonance of mind and heart to be touched by grace. … In the mess and daily attempts to be faithful, grace abounds,” writes Sister Joyce in the foreword.

“I don’t think she (Macrina) ever wanted her journals published,” Sister Joyce said.

At the end of her life, she placed no conditions on the gifts she gave to her friends. There is an intimacy in his words addressed only to God that differs from the words addressed to a wider audience.

“Nothing Macrina wrote surprised me in any way,” said Beth Fritsch of Cincinnati, a close friend who received several years from her diaries. “She traveled like us and showed us the fruit of her prayer. I consider Macrine to be a mystic, totally devoted to her spiritual life. I was amazed at her dedication and commitment to exploring her own relationship with God.

On July 28, the day that would have been Sister Macrine’s 82nd birthday, the Benedictine Sisters will celebrate her funeral and bury her ashes in the monastery cemetery. It will be a sad but necessary farewell, delayed by COVID concerns. “Open Wide My Heart” follows a 2021 book of memories published by Sister Macrina’s friends.

In a diary entry from July 1985, Sister Macrina wrote, “I pray for the grace to live each day as a message from Christ—to live as one sent daily into the world to be Christ.

“Open Wide My Heart” is available at the St. Scholastica Monastery Gift Shop, Amazon, and other online bookstores.

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