Since the end of February when I was elected as our next prioress, life has been a roller coaster of emotions. I’ve felt very supported by my sisters, especially our current prioress, Sister Susan Rudolph, who is giving me what we jokingly call “prioress lessons.” The prayers of our many friends and associates also mean a lot and I truly rely on them. I’m also conscious what an honor and sacred calling it is to be elected, the responsibility it entails, while at the same time wanting to do my very best to work with our community to be a force for good in the world through our living out of Gospel values through the Rule of St. Benedict. At times, I feel dismayed by the enormity of what I’m taking on.
I realized quite soon after election that I was going to have to find a way to deal with the rollercoaster. I can start the day feeling an anticipatory excitement but that can quickly plunge to despair when someone asks me a question I’m not prepared for, and I realize how much I have to learn. If I start to think that I have to do it all myself, it feels overwhelming, so at those moments I consciously try to hand things to God, ask for help and genuinely see myself as God’s servant in all this. It certainly helps to remind myself that I’m not alone and not in charge. God is my rock and my help.
I’m grateful to have found a way to deal with those moments of angst. What I’m also grateful for is the gift of having realized that I need to make sure that I have stability as I approach my new role. I’m finding that the stability comes from entering fully into the rhythm of monastic life, engaging with my sisters and seeing this transition as being part of a greater whole: the wholeness that is living Benedictine life in community.
A crucial part of that is prayer. If you’ve read previous blogs, you’ll know that I’ve had a dynamic relationship with prayer, especially Liturgy of the Hours. At this time, I can honestly say that Liturgy of the Hours is a profound blessing to me. I go into the oratory and whatever is hassling me, I can put aside for that half hour. It’s a time when I know that I won’t be disturbed, a time that is for God only and a welcome means to cherish my relationship with God. And because it happens regularly, it provides stability, a series of anchors in my day which counter the uncertainties of moving into a new role. What a blessing!
Karen Rose, OSB
Photo: The monastic community blesses Sister Karen Rose during the canonical election, taken by Sister Nancy Bauer