Sunday, July 12, 2009

My other monastery...

I'm traveling again. This time it's a liturgy meeting at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN. The meeting begins on Monday but I flew out a few days early to work on a separate liturgy project with a sister at St. Benedict's Monastery - 4 miles from St. John's. Here's the blessing - I get to work with one of my favorite people in one of my favorite places in the world.

I got to know these sisters ten years ago when I studied at St. John's. I would come over every Sunday for the Eucharist. There was something here I needed and though it took some time to unpack, I soon figured out that I needed to be with these good women as much as possible. So, I got "involved" - the liturgist trained me to be a lector and the ushers trained me to do hospitality. Though I lived four miles away and prayed morning and evening with monks, St. Ben's became my "parish" - the place where my spirit was strengthened and my soul refreshed.

Yesterday, I spent the summer feast of Saint Benedict in my other monastery. I was witness to a perpetual monastic profession and a first monastic profession all in one day! Sister Trish received the ring and Novice Karen became Sister Karen. What joy filled this house! The altar and ambo were covered in multi-colored cloth dyed and woven by a sister-artisan. The flowers were cut from the massive garden here - tall, triumphant lilies. And the music...dear GOD, the music! I only wept once - pretty good for me. Something in the music here usually gets to me. The memories of being nurtured and sustained in this place flood back when the schola sings. Without these sturdy, gracious, faithful women, I would have lost my nerve and left my studies in favor of the new life I'd found in Bristow, Virginia. Sharing in their life sustained my desire for community as I ticked off the weeks, months and years until graduation.

I have often thought about the mystery of stability - why a monastic belongs in a particular community. Only GOD can explain the purpose of each vocation - how a soul is planted in just the right monastic soil. I am, and will always be, a Benedictine Sister of Virginia. Yet, there is a part of me that will always feel "at home" here at St. Ben's.

Blessings, love to you all and happy feast!

- Sister Vicki