Benedictine Stability: The Feet Might Move, but the Heart Stays Home

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By Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB

The first promise a Benedictine monastic makes is that of “stability.”

In the Rule of St. Benedict, stability translates as “standing firm” in one’s desire or willingness to seek God in a particular monastic community until death.

This past summer, at the Benedictine Monastic Institute held annually at St. John’s Abbey and University, Collegeville, MN, I learned the term “dynamic stability” – a reference to stationary movement.

My first thought was: that’s a contradiction in terms. My second thought was – I like it! It made sense. Continue Reading

Obedience: Deep Listening

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By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

“This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” The Rule of St. Benedict: Prologue

The word “obedience” is fraught for many people. But it’s not blind obedience that Benedict calls for. Continue Reading

Rooted Here, Rooted Now: What Our Benedictine Monastic Promises Mean

Sister Stefanie MacDonald signs her monastic promises during a simple but beautiful ceremony in our chapel during her first monastic profession.

One of the differences between apostolic communities (like the Franciscans and Dominicans) and Benedictine monastic communities is our vows. In fact, we don’t actually make “vows.” We make promises. It’s more than a word difference!

Our promises underscore our commitment to each other, as Sisters of St. Benedict. They underscore our commitment to seeking God together. They underscore our commitment to be faithful for life. Continue Reading

Living obediently … why… how? Day 3

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Living obediently was a topic of yesterday’s retreat conference. Obedience is one of our monastic promises. But what does it mean today?

To obey comes from the Latin, obedire, to listen. In practice, what that means is to listen to – obey – God. We do so by reading Scripture, walking in nature and listening to one another, among other things.

But it’s not easy. Why? Because when we listen – really listen – we learn what God’s creation needs. We learn what our peers need of us. We learn what God needs of us. And when we understand, we are called to act. Continue Reading