The Vows

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Obedience

The obedience of the monk enlightened by faith is to spring from the love that he bears to Christ as the model and mainspring of his submission. There is not after all any motive more essential and fundamental, more effectual also, for making us perfectly obedient than this ambition to imitate Christ Jesus our ideal. Why have we left all things, renounced all things, even our own will except to follow Him more closely. —Blessed Columba Marmion

The original Latin root for obedience is obaudire. It can be translated as standing by, ready to listen.

This is the approach one must assume in a spirit of loving generosity, and in imitation of Christ who became “obedient unto death.”

Obedience takes humility, a surrendering of one’s own desire for the desires of God at every moment. “Only those hearts inspired by an intense faith, hearts humble, steadfast and generous are capable of it.” (Abbot Marmion)

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The Benedictine of Mary strives first and foremost to be obedient to the Church, faithful to the Church’s magisterial teaching and the living authority of the Church in her hierarchy. She vows obedience for life to the Holy Rule, and to its living authority in the Prioress and her successors.

Conversion of Life

To leave the world and to give up exterior possessions is perhaps something still easy; but for a man to give up himself, to immolate what is most precious to him by surrendering his entire liberty is much more arduous work: to forsake what one has is a small thing, to forsake what one is, that is the supreme gift. —St. Gregory

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Within this vow is what the ancient desert Fathers call the “active life,” or the ascetical life: the arduous combat against vices and cultivation of virtues. It is a life-long battle.

Every Benedictine of Mary vows to detach herself from the ways of the world, continually turning to the ways of her Redeemer; “not changing nature, but perfecting the will” (St. John Chrysostom), according to God’s grace and pleasure.

Perfect observance of poverty and chastity is encompassed by the vow of conversion of life, but it demands a great deal more. St. Benedict’s original word for the vow was conversatio, literally a continual turning to the Lord. It is a turning from “the old man,” as St. Paul called our self-will, a turning from everything that is not God with a joyful and generous heart. Following this commitment, one hopes to imitate our Father, St. Benedict, who left the world “to please God alone.” (Dialogues of St. Gregory)

Stability

One thing I ask, this do I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. —Psalm 26:4

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By the distinctive Benedictine vow of stability, St. Benedict recognized the humble truth that “home is where the heart is.” The heart singly and solely dedicated to God will not wander from where she has been called to pursue Him.

Each sister is bound to stability: perseverance in striving for the heavenly goal within her particular monastery. St. Benedict chose the “most natural framework, in the family” (Dom Delatte) as an ideal atmosphere.

A child is brought up in the home where she will live. So too, the novice is brought up within the family she has chosen, or more properly, the family which God has lovingly chosen for her, from all eternity.

The Benedictine of Mary remains and perseveres with her new family. She seeks no other. The pursuit of eternity is carried out within this context, each sister being bound to it in charity.

A soul rooted in stability will not seek escape, moderation, or even another place where she judges there is a better form of life. She will devote herself to the task at hand in the place where God has led her. Even if obedience may send a sister beyond the geographical bounds of the monastery, she promises faithfully to observe the law of God in the monastic institute by her vows until death.