Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Living the Life
In order for you to make sense of some of the topics I'll be dealing with, it will be helpful to have some insight into what living in the monastery is like. Contrary to popular perception, we do not float around all day meditating, undisturbed by normal activities like work or doing the laundry. Life in a monastery is very full. Our day is divided between prayer, work and recreation. Communal prayer, known as Liturgy of the Hours (LoH), is our central community act. Our prayer is rooted in scripture, particularly the psalms. Our regular schedule is to pray together three times a day (early morning, noon, evening), and to attend Mass. Health permitting, sisters work either in compensated positions outside the monastery or in some form of community service; this is because we have to pay the bills and keep the monastery functioning. Three meals a day are served in our refectory and joining together at the common table is important for us, relaxing and enjoying food and conversation. You may notice that the pronoun 'we' has come up a lot. This is significant because the basis of Benedictine living is community: we go to God together.
I wouldn't like you to get the impression that we are clones. Quite the reverse! There are many characters living in community and ideally we are all seeking God as our own authentic selves. This means that if a sister has a particular gift or talent she is encouraged to use it, but always for the good of the community. It means that we choose our own friends, but not in such a way that we exclude others. It means that we can be sociable or choose solitude, but always bearing in mind how our choice affects the community. It is difficult to achieve a position of perfect poise; in fact, I have discovered that failing to do so, and trying again, is an intrinsic part of monastic life. It is an aspect of perseverance which is essential to monastic living.