On September 30, 2016 I was formally accepted ans a member of online Saint Anna Monastery based in Minnesota. Saint Anna Monastery is a “daughter” of Benedictines from Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania which belongs to Federation of St. Scholastica. On October 3rd, 2016 I received a new monastic name: Anna Maria and became a sister of sixteen other Annas. If one of the new woman wish to join us, you are more than very welcome!
There are really smart woman in our community. This is really a big pleasure for the mind and balsam for the soul to have friends who are able to keeping longer discussion on meaningful topic without jumping to meaningless chatting. I will write about our present conversation in the next post.
I just noticed very beautiful sunrise sky from my window. I will make photo and bring here to invite you to enjoy this with me. You can notice snow on the street. We have had the first snow in the middle of October this year, before the leaves get a chance to turn yellow, orange and red.
Starting from August 6th 2016 my activity is Edmonton base. I fall in love in this city from the first view. Clean, modern, growing place build around the North Saskatchewan River. There are a lot of trees in the city. You can see typical to the North climate long and slim pine trees. City is very clean, fresh, modern, growing. Everything is new, recently build, shining, sparkling. Edmonton has been a city since 1904. Now Edmonton is the most northerly city in North America with a metropolitan population of over one million. We have oil and diamonds, but the most important, precious and good for economy is fact that we have now baby boom in the city. I will thank you God to bring me here. This is a grace of God, pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to bring my service to the place like this.
My new home
View from the entrance
Garage is in the back
(Photos by author of the blog)
I have started from meeting people of the same interest connected to spirituality and suddenly small and growing spiritual community was created. Because I moved to Edmonton during the Feast of the Transfiguration I have named my new community Transfiguration Monastery. This is New Monastic community, apostolic, inter-spiritual. We are still in way to find the right space for our meetings and practice. But we are together, united, happy and this is the most important thing.
I have contacted the closest monastery to find spiritual director for myself and continue to growth my spirituality. I will be frequent visitor in this monastery. I’m also part of online community called Saint Ann Monastery, affiliated with Benedictines of Erie, based in Minnesota. This is all very helpful.
In beginning it was also a lot of close to the earth things to do like applying for my Alberta health insurance card, exchange drivers permit, shopping for house and home equipment and of course advertising my service and growing the business to make stable base for realization my spiritual needs and to help others.
July was beautiful and peaceful for me. However a big surprise was happened on the last days of the month. My Formation team decided that God calling me to something more than just stay in South Dakota, and this monastery is not able to fulfill all the needs of my soul.
This is true that monastery is closing down partially. In 2015 one Novice left monastery. This year, in 2016 only one sister with temporary vows decided that this is not her call. Who left, only sisters with final vows, or sick woman.
Sisters decided that this is not place for full of energy, creative and strong person and very good educated scholar like me. It was hard to agree ad leave alone so lovely old sick sisters. However I believe that God send me to this monastery just to help me learn something. I am really grateful for this. But now I am getting from God more advance mission that just relaxing in the peaceful monastery on the country.
It was also really a big surprise for the rest of the sisters. Many of them cry and I get a lot of hugs and kisses during the last two weeks of my stay. It was really nice closing of my monastic adventure.
This is the end of the Mother of God Monastery in Watertown, SD, USA. The end is for me of course, not for them. They apologized for this situation and I’m forgiving them. They planed something else for me and for themselves. I wish them a good happy the rest of the life and the peaceful death at the end. Part o my heart will be forever with them.
God bless them! Amen.
This is also interesting answer to my question from time before I join this monastery: “Why is so little vocations to monastic life today?” Do I have an answer?
There are a lot of great values in the traditional monasticism. However we need probably different, new communities in World today. We need communities more attractive to the majority of the new generation. But what kinds of communities? Is this my call now to discover this? I don’t really feel ready to answer, but will continue this topic later.
Path near the monastery
Understanding emotions are very important for spiritual development.
I recommend the Eckman’s Atlas of Emotions:
I have had a great dream. In my dream I get the golden key. It was very beautiful and precious key decorated by deep blue arabesque pattern.
I just started to study the Benedictine Rule before this dream. Getting the golden key can be the symbol of learning the Benedictine Rule. This over fifteen hundred years old rule is the true precious Gold Key to happy life. I’m looking forward to discover the all possibility to use this special key.
Arabesque pattern on the Golden Key (digital picture by the author of the blog):
“Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God”
What is the source of joy in religious life? In response to my question the most of the sisters say that praying the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) is the source of their joy. This answer drew my attention, because the opportunity to pray the Divine Office was the main motive for me to join a monastery.
What is the spiritual power of the Divine Office? There is something unusual in the group praying. Our praying combines in one voice. The Holy Spirit is among us. If we put our whole heart and soul in the prayer, we become one in the community and one with the Holy Spirit at the same time.
A special moment of Divine Office is “Sacred Silence” – quiet meditation and contemplation that are interspersed with the prayer. Shared prayer affects our minds, stays with us also during the rest of the day, transforms and shapes our whole lives. The more we put our hearts in to the prayer the more we get in return. This is our spiritual food which provides understanding, wisdom and joy of everyday life.
This gift entails the obligation of sharing, especially that the gifts we received from a generous God completely free.
In May this year I participated in the meeting of NADI (Novice and Director Institute). I met twelve novices and their directors from different states and cities. This meeting confirmed my feeling that today is probably the best ever time for monastic life in all history, especially in our country. We have great religious freedom and our understanding of other religions has increased a lot.
Being Benedictine today means belonging to strong, well organized and vibrant network. Being Catholic in religious profession means not only cooperation inside Catholicism, not even only between other Christian denominations, but also with different faiths and cultures.
We had many amazing presentations during NADI. I will give as an example a great movie, which we were able to see during NADI. It was a movie about meeting between Benedictine sisters, brothers and members of Buddhist and Muslim monasteries. This was very fascinating to see in one movie how similar ways of monastic life were developed in completely different cultures. We are living as celibates, limiting our belongings, praying and eating together. We are doing different works, like carrying for the garden. We are chanting sacred texts from our scriptures. The text, melody and language of the chanting can be different, but the Spirit is really the same. Option of monastic life is just part of human nature and does not depend on culture. Different religions create different cultures. Religion defines culture, but our nature and out spirit are the same. This is fantastic to be part of such a wide human network.
The word “religion” coming from Latin “religio” which means: “bond”. This is good that religious communities are creating bonds also with monastic people from other cultures. You can find more about this on website: http://www.dimmid.org/ (in French: Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique, in English: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue). Here is the link to the movie, which we were able to see. Movie is in French with English subtitles:
One of the persons from this movie discovered that practicing other religions help us understand better our own religious tradition much better. I have the same experience after my own contact with other spiritual traditions. This experience helped me understand my own culture from the wider perspective.
Our group in NADI during “thank you’ performance for the sisters from Saint Benedict Monastery in Saint-John Minnesota who were very hospitable for us. (Photo by Sister Eileen Brick, my Novice Director)