I’m writing this blog on December 30, 2022, very close to the end of the year. Recently, I’ve been writing things to do with the coming of the New Year (the December letter in Monastery Musings, our monthly E-newsletter, and a radio mediation, for example). Thoughts about resolutions, persistence, buckling down and commitment have been churning around in my head as I’ve put these pieces together. Now, as I’m beginning my blog for January, it’s really striking me that making a resolution means nothing if you don’t then commit to it and follow through.
It’s 15 years now since I entered the monastery and embarked on a process of discernment and incremental commitment to the monastic way of life, culminating in perpetual profession in 2012. Perpetual profession is a huge moment in any sisters’ life. It’s the point in time when you give yourself over, putting all your doubts and reservations aside, and taking a leap of faith in what you have heard God say to you. However, in the 10 years that have followed my perpetual profession, I’ve learned that commitment isn’t a once and for all thing; it’s a living, growing, and hopefully deepening relationship with the reality of what you have promised.
Perpetual profession, as I reflect on it, is really just the beginning of the journey of commitment. In essence, what I committed to was seeking God the Benedictine way. I’ve heard some sisters say that they came here to pray. I didn’t do that specifically. I came because I wanted to pare down my life, live more simply and have more time for seeking God and developing my relationship with the Divine Mystery. There have been times when the Benedictine way of prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, the cyclical repetition of psalms and canticles, has been frustrating to me. Really, I’ve had quite volatile relationship with it. I think it’s important to live out those doubts and questions. If you don’t explore why you do something, it doesn’t hold real meaning. Simply turning up for prayers because you’ve been told to has never been enough for me, and I’m glad I’ve thought about, reflected on, and even prayed about prayer.
At this point in my monastic life, I find I can contain within myself these contradictions about the point and value of the way I’m praying. I don’t merely tolerate doing it, there’s a fire in my belly which tells me that participating in the monastic prayer hours matters whether or not I personally am getting anything out of it. I have committed to this way of life, and Benedictine life is nonexistent without Liturgy of the Hours. It’s not about me. It’s about commitment to something bigger, something I don’t understand and can’t see, but which I know deep inside is linked to the powerful force which guided me to this monastery, at this time in history.
My New Year’s resolution is to live out my commitment to monastic life as fully and completely as I am able.
Karen Rose, OSB
Photo: Sister Bridgette Powers receives her ring at her perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 2022; taken by Sister Nancy Bauer