In my new office on the second floor of the convent, I have seven photographs lined up on the desk. Each wood frame holds a woman who has entered the monastery in the last six years and who remains in Initial Formation. These 4x6 frames have an order. They are arranged according to monastic rank. Although “rank” sounds military, it is not about personal authority or pay grade. For Saint Benedict rank indicated only one thing – the moment an individual came to the monastery. For us that moment is marked by the entrance rite. In his world people were divided by social class, wealth or political power. Benedict wanted to remove all those distinctions and set God-seekers on equal footing. Today, as in his day, we reverence one who came to the life before we did – knowing that it is only time in the monastery that molds and shapes the soul.
These seven photos are lined up from the first – Sister Kathleen – to the most recent – Rosa Farrar, a new postulant. But, because they are so close together, when one photo gets nudged, several fall down at the same time. I am constantly moving a pile of “stuff” and knocking someone over. Then, the “domino” effect takes over and several women collapse. This has become a treasured moment for reflection. As I set them all back up in their proper order, I remember how close we are to one another on the journey. I think about their futures linked together in the monastery and of how much they will need each other as the years pass. I pray for our women in formation. I ask GOD to help them grow in love for one another. I pray that they will pick each other up when they fall down and forgive one another’s weaknesses. I pray that they will come to cherish the Christ who abides within and among them. Then, I pray for Sister Andrea and Sister Doris who walk with our women in formation. Last but not least, I pray for myself. I ask for the grace to love each woman “as is” and love them enough to encourage them to keep becoming. It is our way – an ancient way. May Benedict and Scholastica protect and strengthen their daughters along the narrow road that leads to salvation (RB Prologue, 48).
Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki