Community is a Verb ....by Sr. Monika

When I was vocation director many years back I wrote a little reflection on the topic of community. I called it, “Community is a Verb.” I want to revisit that reflection.

Community life is beautiful. Prayer calls us together three or four times a day. It is such a blessing and a privilege to pray in a communal way, chanting the psalms and canticles, listening to scripture and bringing the needs of the world into our hearts and on our lips. The liturgy of the hours is a calm and peaceful activity meant to connect our hearts and minds to God’s life in us. It is a sacred responsibility.

After morning praise we go to our various ministries. Many of us see people in spiritual direction. This is also a sacred work. It is quite an honor to sit with a person to hear the story of their soul, with the ups and downs all of us experience. Some of us go to offices to coordinate the workers who come to complete special projects. Some of us go to offices where administration of the community happens. Some go to the library, to the archives, or to their own rooms to do the work of the day. We take a break for noon praise and lunch. Then the work starts all over again in offices and rooms. This is our life of ora et labora – work and prayer. This is such a lovely and practical pairing. We pray and we serve. It is a gospel life.

We gather for mass, followed by the evening meal. During the meal we talk about what we accomplished that day, or we review the news of the day, or we simply enjoy each other’s company.

 

Sister Monika cooks

Evening praise gathers us together for the last time that day. We chant in praise of the God who made it all possible. We pray for a peaceful night. We pray for our absent brothers and sisters – which really includes all of our neighbors and friends.

Queen of Mardi Gras

Sometimes after evening praise we come together for a celebration. We have great parties. This past week we celebrated Mardi Gras. And we celebrated Sister Dorothy’s 25 years as sub-prioress. We had a game that covered Sister Dorothy’s entire life from baptism to now. It was hilarious. Then we sat in a drum circle and created loud and soft rhythms. We feasted on foods that came from a sister’s heart and hands. A good time was had by all.

Sometimes at the end of the day, we like to just sit and relax into Being, after all our Doing.

A bit of Christmas season relaxation

All of this monastic community life is predicated on DOING. For morning, noon and evening praise one sister signs up to lead; one sister lights the candle and turns on the microphone. Another sister plays the organ. All of the sisters pray and chant. The quality of the liturgy of the hours would be low if any of the jobs were left undone.

We dye eggs together before Easter

 The works of service are DONE by sisters who have special skills, talents, or preferences. No one sits arounds wondering what to do during our days. We are busy and we cherish being busy in the school of the Lord’s service. We do rest, of course. St. Benedict, in his Rule, designed the day with time for prayer, for work, for holy reading, and time for rest. He was a man of practical wisdom.

Prepping for a party

The party was planned and DONE by a committee of sisters. One did the decorating and the game. One spread the word about the surprise celebration for Sister Dorothy. One led the drum circle. And one prepared a wonderful spread of snack foods. Lots of sisters helped with clean up.

So, you see, community IS a VERB. Community does not come about automatically just because some people live together. Community demands work, prayer, and dedication. I am ever so glad I belong to a Benedictine monastic community which calls me to make community, to live it, and to DO the thing that is needed.

 

Comments

  • Comment posted by Sr. Anna-Camille on February 17, 2024 at 2:31PM (2 months ago)

    What a great description of community! Loved dit.

  • Comment posted by Sr. Lucy M Wynkoop on February 16, 2024 at 3:58PM (2 months ago)

    S Monika, you beautifully describe "community as a verb" by mentioning how we all participate in community through prayer, work, and play. Thank you for your blog sharing.

    • Comment posted by S. Monika on February 17, 2024 at 12:32PM (2 months ago)

      Thanks, Sister Lucy.

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