Fraternal Charity

Woe to the one who lives alone, for if he falls, he has no one to lift him up … The Lord also did not think that the teaching of His word alone was enough, but He wanted to give an example of humility, when, girded with a towel He washed the feet of His disciples. Whose feet do you wash? Whom do you care for? To whom do you make yourself inferior and last of all since you live alone?

—St. Basil the Great

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Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity” is chanted every Tuesday at Vespers, but it is chanted more often in the hearts of the Benedictines of Mary. Our life is intensely community oriented.

Since our primary obligation is to the perfection of charity, we have no better subject to practice on than the Sister sitting next to us. Granted, in any collection of fallen mortals, there is bound to be friction arising from our varied temperaments, upbringing and education. But as star differeth from star in glory and virtue from virtue, so we understand that diamonds cannot be cut except by other diamonds.

We seek the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ through the strengthening of the bonds of family love. Thus compassion and encouragement are continuously given and received in living out the charity that “seeketh not its own.”

With God’s help, we look forward to the day when we are reunited to share the Vision of God, Who is Love.

If I were to imagine someone asking Our Lord, “Who are the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles?” I suppose He could answer in a variety of ways.

Oh, don’t you know? They are the nuns who sew beautiful vestments and linens for priests.” Or perhaps, “It is the community that welcomes priests on retreat — their home-cooked meals are known far and wide.”

He might answer, “These Benedictines are the nuns who are recognized for their industrious farming and gardening. They can fruit from their own orchard and milk their own cows!”

Perhaps He would say, “Why, this community excels beyond all others in its immense intellectual life. There are philosophers, theologians and Latin scholars among their ranks.”

Or maybe, “Haven’t you heard their recordings? They are the Sisters who sing, of course!”

Oh how sad it would be if Our Lord had to respond in any of these ways. As for me, I long for only one answer to come from His lips, and it would be something like this.

The Benedictines of Mary — they are the ones who built for me a house of love. A house in which each soul prepared for me a worthy dwelling, a sanctuary where I find rest and comfort amidst a world that gives me so much hatred and scorn.

In that house, charity rules supreme. She is the queen, inspired by the fairest of all queens, my beloved Mother. It is in this place that each of my brides has given Me her heart, whole and entire, and each one spends herself day and night to please Me alone.

How I love to dwell there, where My Heart, so full of sorrow, finds the pure love and compassion that only my true spouses can give.”

My dear daughters, may this be the answer from Our Dear Lord’s smiling lips when someone asks Him, “Who are the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles?”

—From Mother Cecilia’s first address as Prioress.

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