Sign reading "St John's welcomes you"

Orientation, disorientation, new orientation

Rosy Kandathil, OSBLetters home, Living in Community 11 Comments

Fall colors along the shores of Lake Sagatagan at St John's Abbey, Collegeville, MNThe beauty of the fall colors are just beginning to blaze along Lake Sagatagan.  Every day as I walk to class, I marvel over the progression of yellow, orange and red in the trees.  It’s been about a month since I arrived at Saint John’s Saint-Johns-welcome-signUniversity School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, MN to begin a Masters in Theology with a concentration in Scripture.  In the midst of my classes, I flew back to Holy Wisdom Monastery to make the biggest commitment of my life: first monastic profession.  On September 20, 2015, surrounded by friends and family and the community of Holy Wisdom from far and near, I gladly made my Benedictine promises to obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic life.

So many experiences to take in: new campus and classes, new schedules, new relationships and a new season in my formation as I shift from life as a novice to a sister in first profession.  Autumn is the season of change, and there is beauty in the letting go and letting in.  What has helped me find stability amidst all these shifts is the small intentional community house that I share with four other theology students. As Lilly Fellows, we have all committed to explore life together as part of our education.  To that end, we take a class together, meet regularly for house meetings and meals, and receive spiritual direction and guidance from a facilitator each month.  Although I am far from the monastery and miss it each day, the gifts of this small community of students helps me remember why I made my profession.  In many ways, I am finding the support I need each day–despite the distance.

Praying with the monks at Saint John’s Abbey is helpful.  The rhythm is familiar as morning, noon and night, they gather for what Benedict calls the “opus Dei” (work of God).  As we intone the scriptures together, I adjust to the collective pace of men practiced in this slow, careful work of turning over the text, alive and full of meaning.  It is not the same as home.  But as I take a deep breath and join in, I find myself again in the Psalms’ familiar strains of lament and praise, joy and grief, anger and celebration.  I remember Walter Brueggeman’s famous rubric on the Psalms: orientation, disorientation, new orientation. Yes. God is here with me in this new place, and I am grateful.

Each day I learn new things.  My classes are challenging and enriching.  I couldn’t tell you which one is my favorite: Introduction to Christian Tradition, Greek, John and the Johannine Tradition, Discernment in Prayer, Community and Leadership in Community.  It’s a great roster with talented, caring professors at the helm.  Beyond academia, I am also learning to serve this campus. I was recently elected to our student government and have been serving on the liturgy committee.  These roles require listening deeply and respectfully in order to communicate well the concerns of my diverse student body. I am glad for these opportunities to make connections and to learn how to be together.

The night before I left for my profession, fellow students gathered for an evening prayer of blessing in the Emmaus Library.  It was the eve of the feast of Hildegard of Bingen. As we praised the wisdom of this 12th century mystic, my scholastic community invoked its blessings on me, soon-to-be-professed sister of an ecumenical Benedictine community in Madison, WI.  As they lifted their hands in prayer, gratitude washed over me.  We were monks and seminarians, religious and lay, women and men praying and remembering the beauty of our call to Christ, each with its unique shape.  Sturdy tree trunks, surrounded by brightly colored fall leaves, reaching upward What a joy to be joined together in this way and to return to Holy Wisdom richer for the generous gift of their prayers.

It has been a whirlwind month.  But as I watch the leaves fall from my window, I am reminded of God’s faithful presence in the midst of community.  There is joy in the journey made together.


Read other blog posts from Sister Rosy in her series, Letters home.

Comments 11

  1. Thank you for writing to us at Holy Wisdom! You have a gift for writing and your words blessed me!
    You continue to be in our prayers, Dear Sister Rosy!
    Peace to you,

    1. Thanks, Karen! It sure is nice to able to write home, and know that my education is not a solo-enterprise but a venture shared among friends. Thanks for your well-wishes. Look forward to catching you at Holy Wisdom during one of my breaks!

  2. I feel as I’m journeying along with you. Thanks for sharing.

    “Taste and see that the Lord is good. ”
    Indescribably Delicious!!!

    1. Joe! So good to hear from you, and know that you’re traveling with me through these blogs. Hope to see you at Holy Wisdom soon!

  3. I rejoice with you as you make first monastic profession, and to see your life blooming as a rose .. in this new step of education that you might more deeply fulfil the vocation that is God’s gift to you! Blessings to you, Sr. Rosy!

    1. Thank you, Will. I look forward to hearing how your own formation in community is shaping your life the next time you swing around for a retreat at Holy Wisdom. 🙂 Come on back soon!

  4. Rosy,
    It was wonderful to be present to witness your profession and participate in the liturgy of dedication and celebration. Your call is a sign of God’s blessing upon HWM. I am happy for you and also for our community of communities.

    I hold you in my prayers.

    Marian Wasierski OblSB (2014)

    1. Thanks, Marian! I was so glad to celebrate my profession with you. 🙂 Appreciate your prayers very much and look forward to seeing you at the monastery during my breaks!

    1. Dear Sister Margaret– You’ve found my blog post! Thank you for your card and your prayers. I received your note when I arrived back at the monastery, and I will write back when I get chance. Miss you and look forward to catching up next time I’m in New York!

  5. Hi Sister Rosy, I was not sure if you got my text letting you know we were thinking of you on the 20th of September!

    Blessings for your studies at school! Peter sends his love and we miss you! We will keep looking forward to your updates! Our prayer will be for your continued orientation, disorientation and new orientation!

    Shalom, Kelly 🙂

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