a blog from Sister Hannah
“It is good to be here.”
I am often asked why I became a Sister – but the real question, I often think, is not how I came to be a Sister, but why have I continued to be a Sister?
When I first felt that stirring in my heart to pursue becoming a Sister, it was exciting! I imagined all kinds of things…an idyllic prayer life in a beautiful setting; a community of Sisters who would always be loving and kind (how could they not be, they were Sisters!); a life of peace and simplicity with ample time for reading and reflection; a life with little conflict…
Then I moved into the Monastery.
Reality quickly set in as I realized that Sisters, while they really are amazing women who indeed aspire each day to seek God, are actually rather ordinary people. People who have good days and bad days…people who can get on your last nerve…people who you sometimes wish you didn’t have to see each and every day…
So when I ponder why I continue to live as a Benedictine Sister with 35 other women in one building, I often think of Sister JoAnn, who always concludes her vocation story with the comment: “It is good to be here.” And she is right. Despite the difficulties of living in community, the benefits far outweigh the negative aspects – and at the end of each day, I can honestly say to myself that it is indeed good to be a Sister at Annunciation Monastery. But why is good to be here?? A few reasons:
-Prayer. We get to spend our lives praising God! While I may have ups and downs in my personal prayer life, I know that I will always have the community’s prayer life to depend on, to help me in times of need. We pray the Liturgy of the Hours together morning and evening.
-The Rule of St. Benedict. Our monastic Benedictine life has a certain order to it. We follow a little rule written by a monk in the 500s AD. It is full of sensible ideas and rules mixed with compassionate and caring ways of relating to one another.
-Learning. Benedictines focus a lot on learning, which I love. What have I studied since becoming a Benedictine Sister? A lot about the Catholic Church (our teachings, history, Vatican II documents, the Bible, etc.) and a lot about what it means to be Benedictine (including in-depth studies of our prayer life, our monastic history, and even how to read and interpret chant). In addition, I have learned about the amazing strength of women in our Church – the Sisters in my community are educated, strong, smart, and very capable. Their strength and confidence has empowered me to develop my own leadership skills as a woman and Sister in the Catholic Church.
-Community, community, community! I chose to join a monastic order because of the focus on living within a community of Sisters – we pray, eat, play, and work together. While it can be challenging living with so many other women, the benefits are definitely worth it. My Sisters provide me with support, encouragement, companionship, friendship, a shoulder to cry on, people to celebrate with…they are basically my “other” family and I cannot imagine life without them.
Joy. I like to laugh and I like to be around people who appreciate humor and who do not take everything too seriously – the Sisters fit that bill. They live life with an optimism born of a firm belief in the goodness of God.
So why I am I still here six years after moving into the Monastery?? I again quote Sister JoAnn – it really is undeniably “good to be here.”