Palm Sunday weekend, eleven of us made a pilgrimage to learn about Benedictine life. Bundling out of bed and into the chapel for Mass at 5:00 AM was a bit of a challenge, but by 5:40, we were on the road and on the way to an immersion in an ancient form of religious life.
Our destination? St. Emma Benedictine Monastery in Greensburg, PA. The nuns there follow the Rule of St. Benedict and they taught us all about it.
We participated in the monastic form of the Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, Matins, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, interspersed with conferences by Sister Mary Clare (the Vocation Director) and Mother Mary Anne (the Prioress). We learned about the life of St. Benedict, St. Walburga, the Benedictine way of work and the form of vows taken by Benedictine nuns.
These vows are somewhat different than the "Chastity, Poverty and Obedience" so familiar to us all. Since the Benedictine form of life pre-dates such modern divisions, the vows these nuns take are Stability, Conversion to a Monastic Way of Life and Obedience. Mother Mary Anne delightfully explained them to us.
We learned to braid palms, we laughed at convent tales, we participated in table reading and common monastic meals. The nuns graciously opened their house and their hearts to us.
More to come in future posts...