Saturday, November 06, 2010

Comfort in the Monastic Horarium

Joy in the Morning!

It is always good to get back home. How many vacationers, however much their time away was enjoyed, will say with gusto, "It is so good to be home"? As much as we may beg for respite from routine, there is something we find comforting in the familiar.

In the last month or so we have enjoyed some time for community recreation in which the regular monastic horarium or daily schedule was somewhat abbreviated. We also experienced our annual ten-day community retreat. This year the time was given to five days of hermit retreat within the monastery for all the sisters, followed by five days of directed retreat with a Jesuit priest. Those ten days were a special time. My mother always asks why contemplative nuns should need a retreat. "Aren't you always in retreat?" The monastic tradition encourages times of withdrawal from ordinary community life. The customs of our house provide for one day of retreat per month for each sister. Each of us also has an annual ten-day personal retreat. And then there is the community retreat. The abbreviated community schedule and fewer work hours provide opportunity for more and deeper silence and solitude. Every sister would say that these times of retreat are most welcome.

Yet, as special as these times are, we all agree that returning to regular community life feels so good and right - a sort of grand reunion with each other and as a community before our Loving God. Time apart is a blessing but our time together is a blessing too, especially as we pray the Divine Office and share in the Eucharistic banquet. There is a dignity in fulfilling our vocation to be a prayerful presence before God for the needs of the world. There is always joy in the morning when we come together again.

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