Breaking Bread Visitation

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

How many ways are there to make community?

How many ways are there to be community?

Cheesy grits topped with cajun shrimp. An herbed biscuit paired with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Fruit, yogurt and granola parfait next to a side of over-easy eggs. All served on an outdoor patio along West Broadway in North Minneapolis. It’s not the usual scene for our communion table, nor typical Eucharistic feast — but it is where I experienced a sacred meal this past Monday morning that took me into the heart of a Eucharistic celebration. Together, with members of the Visitation Community, in the heart of the northside community: we broke bread; we enacted a sacred ritual.

As riots were breaking out in Baltimore last week and protest marches were held across our nation, a northside organization called Appetite for Change held a grand opening for its latest operation called “Breaking Bread Cafe.” With its mission to “use food as a tool to build health, wealth and create social change,” the cafe opened just three blocks north of the monastery — almost like a prayerful response to the unrest in our world. This is where Sr. Katherine Mullin, our monastic immersion resident Brenda Lisenby, Visitation intern Cody Maynus and I dined on Monday morning.

We sat outside on the patio facing west Broadway,  our dining area sharing a border with the headquarters for Minneapolis Public Schools — situated across the street from Shiloh Temple — where Barway Collins’ funeral service was held two days prior. Together, in this space, we broke bread.

Breaking Bread Cafe: serving "Global Comfort Foods for breakfast and lunch."

Breaking Bread Cafe: serving “Global Comfort Foods for breakfast and lunch.”

In the literal sense, we split an herbed biscuit and savored bites of the comfort food. In the figurative sense, we became Eucharist for one another– sharing stories, our joy, our heart’s questions and longing. We talked about poverty and violence. We mused on missionary work and ministry. We reflected on sustainable programming and our roles in service work. We wondered about past, present and future vocations.  We laughed at ourselves and said “Amen” — all in the space of an hour spent leisurely lingering over our communion food.

It makes me wonder: How many ways are there for us to enact the Eucharist?  To be the body of Christ — communion, community,  food –for one another? As we go about our respective days, in what ways do we consciously “LIVE+ JESUS” – as our co-founders St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal urged?

And: when Appetite for Change’s founders had the vision for “Breaking Bread” as a youth training and employment program, who came up with the name? How many religious and secular traditions have bread at the center of transformation and healing? These questions, this meal, still continue to feed me and inform my prayer. I encourage your own contemplations of holy dining experiences, at this new northside cafe, and at your own local tables.

From Table to Table

Eucharistby Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM

“Our faith tells us that the Eucharist is the ultimate Thanksgiving meal and the best preparation for being sent.”

For the past 25 years our monastery dining room table has been the setting for good food, stimulating  conversation  and  amazing people  who enrich and inspire us to “walk the talk”  of our mission embodied in the motto of the Visitation Order,  “Live Jesus“.

This Fremont table was a gift from previous owners,  Lacious and Margaret Burgess who raised six children  and fed many  friends and neighbors long before we arrived in north Minneapolis. We learned from their pastor that no one was turned away at the Burgess’  home.

The Sisters  recognize the sacredness of this  table.   We  hope that those who have been fed at our table   will  “taste  the blessing”  received  “where two or three gather “ in Christ’s name.   Such blessings  flow from  the nourishment  received at the “Table of Thanksgiving”  which we  call “The Eucharist”.

As part of our way of life as Visitation Sisters, we participate in the great prayer of the Mass daily.

“Feeding on the Body of Christ strengthens and unites us as we are sent forth to share Christ’s love…”

Mass at MonasteryMany priests have made time in their schedule so that we can celebrate Mass regularly in our monastery. We are very grateful to them and to others who join us for  this  great prayer.  On some days the congregation may be small; on other days  we are “shoulder to shoulder”  as we pray!

The word, “Mass“  means  “to be sent”;  Eucharist  means  “Thanksgiving”. Our faith tells us that the Eucharist is the ultimate Thanksgiving meal and the best  preparation for being sent.  We come as the family of God, to praise and thank God for the blessing of life and to intercede for  the  people and  needs of the whole  world.  We ask for mercy. We listen to and share the Word of God in union with people across the globe “breaking open” the same Scriptures. We witness the Spirit alive and active among us as we share.

In the Eucharistic prayer  the crucified and risen Lord gathers us all into unity.  With confidence, then, we join our hands and pray as he taught us, share his peace with each other and partake of his very life in communion. Feeding on the Body of Christ strengthens and unites us as we are sent forth to share Christ’s love that day.

I am aware that  the Mass holds the intimacy of Christ loving me as I hear his Word and unite my life with his offering to his Father. I am also aware that the Mass holds the expansiveness of Christ’s transforming presence in the community gathered at this “covenant meal”.   As a deeply personal prayer and a communal prayer, the Eucharist prepares us to live the mandate of Matthew 25:

  “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.” 

I like how C.S. Lewis once put it, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament, your neighbor is the holiest object present to your senses.”

In this, our 25th anniversary year,  I  can imagine those who once came for Eucharist at our monastery but now celebrate the “full vision” of  Christ’s presence in heaven  joining us as we continue to acclaim at every Mass,   HOLY  HOLY  HOLY…. HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF GOD’S GLORY !