Visum Monachae… on Sister Myths
By Sister Edith Bogue
A student flagged me down on my way to a meeting. “Sister Edith,” she said tentatively, “is it really true that…” She named a Sister Myth: fake news about the Benedictine Sisters. Time for a Fact Check.
“No one is allowed through the double doors into the monastery.”
MOSTLY FALSE. How could we promote Hospitality as a value but close our doors? There is someone ready to greet you all day and into the evening. It might be a Sister, a staff person, or a volunteer. People come to our Gift Shop to visit Sisters for retreats. Benedictine Friends come often for events and meals with their Sister Friends. We are glad to welcome you.
SLIGHTLY TRUE. Our monastery does include our Cloister, the private part of our home. Don’t be concerned that you might wander in. Those areas are marked “Private: Sisters only.” The person at the Information Desk can help you get to the right place.
“Morning and Evening Prayer is only for Sisters. Or women. Or singers.”
TOTALLY FALSE. The Sisters especially welcome people to join us at prayer. In fact, we have many prayer books marked “Guest” always available. Red for Morning Prayer, blue for Evening Prayer. Our prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, has a structure. Any of the Sisters are happy to help you find your place in the books.
About the singing? Only a few Sisters have the voice of an angel, but we all pray. Chant or sing softly while you are learning the pace, then blend your voice with the others. Our prayer includes praise, lament, intercession: all the human emotions. Everyone is welcome to join us in praying for the needs of our world.
“Don’t talk to a Sister. Wait for a Sister to talk to you first.”
TOTALLY FALSE. What a Myth! It goes against three values at once: Hospitality, Respect, and Community.
Sisters are human. We greet people as we pass by: a smile, nod, or cheery hello. Unless the prayer bells are ringing or the Sister is rushing somewhere, it’s fine to say, “Do you have a minute?” and talk a little longer. Students: you are always welcome at Benedictine Friends events. Or ask a Sister to schedule a time to talk with you.
SLIGHTLY TRUE. Sisters do keep silence on the last Sunday of the month and some holy days like the Triduum (aka Easter Break). Even so, a Sister is always happy to return your greeting and be a friend in any way she can. St. Benedict’s Rule tells us “Never give a hollow greeting of peace, or turn away when someone needs your love.”
Be a myth buster! You are commissioned to speak up if you hear someone spreading a Sister Myth. If it contradicts a Benedictine Value, it is probably a myth. Don’t fall for fake news.
Sister Edith Bogue is an Associate Professor of Sociology, vocation minister for the monastery, and speaks on the Benedictine heritage. Reach her with questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.