Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 9 - One Heart, One Rule

We are entering our second week in the Abbey; the Novice Mistress is teaching us the fundamental prayers and songs that are in daily use, and the Mistress of Postulants is instructing us in the use of our liturgical books. We are reading and singing large portions from the Psalms and the Gospels daily, as well as smaller texts from the Old Testament and Epistles, all a part of the Divine Office. We are otherwise keeping silence day and night, but for two hours of recreation, and we have been given a few small work assignments.

We are developing our first jealousies and experiencing our early humiliations. If we are of good humor (and the counselors like to admit women who can laugh at themselves a little,) we are probably beginning to let go of a some of the baggage we brought with us. In most traditional monasteries and convents, the new arrival "brings" the clothes on her back and has her postulant's habit waiting for her in her cell.

We are seeing friendships we would like to promote and realizing that the most admirably advanced Sister, the one we would like to get to know, will never be our "best friend." Our souls are strengthening in the atmosphere of worship; our minds are beginning to size things up, in one direction or another.

What valid "rule" could any house of religion ever construct that was not based upon this one:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment" (Matthew 22:37,38 NASB)?

If the postulant is meant to stay, she is beginning to realize that time has brought each professed nun into the joy and peace and confidence which is seen and envied. Time and "conversatio" will do the same for us, if we are founded upon this Greatest Rule in the monastery of our hearts.

Photo by Kerry

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