A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
I think that, this year, it would be very fruitful for us to focus on community life. In this year of St. Joseph, we remember that the Holy Family lived in community, and I’m sure it wasn’t always ‘just peachy’ for them. Saints don’t become saints because everything is easy and there is nothing to try them. They are going to be tried. We are going to be tried. And sometimes we fail because something pushes us a little too hard, and we’re weak, so we fall – but then we need to get up again! I don’t always understand why people act a certain way, but it’s important that I pray about it and at least question the way in which I’m acting. We should all be humble enough to ask, “Where do I need to grow in this? What do I need to do differently?” Without this self-knowledge, it will be very difficult to be humble, because it’s always going to be somebody else’s fault. It is the tensions of living in community that enable us to change into something better. Ask the Lord to show you where there is room for improvement, and be prepared to do it.
So of course there are the hardships of community life, but we also know of the blessings. How many times have we walked into a meal that we’ve had nothing to do with? But somebody’s worked hard on it, and we just get to enjoy it. We walk around the Abbey and find everything tidy and clean, and it may not be an area we have anything to do with. (I should also note the Sisters who are designated to work in the gardens, wash the eggs, deal with our finances, handle maintenance issues, make cheese, and so much more, for the benefit of us all.) And the greatest gift of community life is that we have the time to pray. If we didn’t have our Rule, which orders our days so that our minds can be free of always wondering what we should do next, and if we didn’t all live together and help each other, none of us would be in the chapel as much as we are. Nor would we be able to celebrate the liturgy so beautifully. Our voices in choir complement each other so well, we have organists, and wonderful readers – God has truly blessed us abundantly. We have so much to be grateful for, and it is up to each of us to take the steps necessary to live well in community – to cherish charity, not only to do it, but to cherish it, and truly be grateful for one another.
Visit the following pages to see how others are incorporating the blessing of community life into their own lives:
Alleluia Community (our Sister Marie Therese was raised in the Alleluia community, and her father is one of the Elders)
Companions of Christ, Denver (for diocesan clerics)