Friday, October 22, 2010

Canonical Visitation...

We are being “visited.” Every six years each monastery in our Federation is visited by two Benedictine sisters charged with observing our common life. We are blessed to have Sister Lynne Marie McKenzie and Sister Patricia Crowley as our special guests this weekend. Sister Lynn Marie is from Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL. She is First Councilor of the Federation. Sister Patricia hails from St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago, IL. She is serving her community as prioress.

Canonical Visitation is a blessing on a house because it requires the community to spend the better part of a year “looking in the mirror.” We prepare by self-evaluation and revisiting our core documents – philosophy, vision statement, monastery norms, etc. We produce a document – roughly 200 pages in length – that is sent to the Visitators one month in advance of their arrival. Then, when the sisters finally arrive, we greet them with a special Evening Prayer and a feast. (Last night was beautiful!)

Today, the official work begins for our guests. Tours – inside and out – come first. Then, for the next two days, they will meet with the entire community in small groups. By Saturday evening they will write their report which will be delivered first to the prioress and then to the community on Sunday afternoon. It’s a whirlwind four-days for our Visitators, but this intense immersion is necessary so that the Spirit can speak through their insights. They will commend us for certain strengths and make recommendations that will yield fruit in our future. It is a graced time for us.

In the first reading this morning, St. Paul speaks to the faithful in Ephesus, and, as grace would have it, summarizes the message of canonical visitation. “Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.” I have no fears for us in this process only the expectation of blessing. But, as always, we are grateful for your prayers.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki