The Last Days

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 20 Comments

It’s early April 2017 and I am approaching the final stretch of my master’s degree in scripture at Saint John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, MN. I’ve immersed myself in New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew, taken theology and scripture classes, read volumes, written graduate level exegetical papers—all in preparation for this last semester of examinations. The next and last hurdle is my oral comprehensive exam, today, as I sit before a panel of professors who will probe my competence in the field of scripture and decide if I have demonstrated the level of proficiency required to have earned a …

Painting - The Call of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio

Chiaroscuro – light and dark in Lent

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 6 Comments

It was Ash Wednesday, and I had a long day ahead of me. Clutching my coffee cup, I slumped down into my seat for my 8am Prophetic Traditions class with Fr. Dale Launderville. We had already made our way through Joel, Amos, Micah and Ezekiel, and now we were knee-deep in the miry waters of Isaiah. The knotty book of soaring poetry and evocative prose was also filled with obscure history, politics and various strains of editors. Flipping to a clean page in my notebook, I braced myself for a morning of busy note-taking. But Fr. Dale began with an …

Sister Rosy and friends holding sign reading "The Resistance is HERE"

Three cities: One community of Benedictines – Women’s March 2017

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 6 Comments

Saturday, January 21, 2017, is a day that I will remember for a long time. The day after the presidential inauguration, I woke early to join a group of women that I had been meeting with regularly to head into Minneapolis. When we got to the Twin Cities, we planned to rendezvous with other friends from Saint Johns School of Theology carpooling for the Women’s March. No one knew what to expect, but in the car we ventured our guesses. Maybe 10,000 or 20,000 would show up for the march? Who knew? What I did know was that in Madison, …

4 sisters gathered around deep dish pizza

Milestones

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 13 Comments

I was turning 40. There was no avoiding it, but for the weeks leading up to my birthday I tried not to indulge a creeping sense of dread. Although I could laugh over the prospect of having to check the “40 and over” survey box, I also felt anxious about crossing a threshold into middle age. There is something about milestones that force reflection, self-assessment, and in my case—mild depression. What had I accomplished with my life? I would be turning 40 at a monastery, with nothing to my name. All the accomplishments of a legal career built during my …

St Cloud Symphony Orchestra

Can beauty save the world?

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 5 Comments

Music filled the darkened performance hall. An attentive hush fell over the audience as the lush strains of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor drew us together in wonder, a fellowship of listeners. For a few brief and precious moments, all of these strangers in a room made up one marvelous whole, separate but together, rooted in place yet soaring at the same time. It was Saturday night, and Sister Tammy Shoemaker from Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN and I were treating ourselves to an evening out with the St Cloud Symphony Orchestra. As we took …

Mist rising over the prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery

The evolution of vocation

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 8 Comments

James [not his real name] and I stood outside talking in low voices. The autumn air was cool, but our discussion was getting heated. We had just come out of a packed lecture hall where 3 speakers offered their thoughts on Calling in Today’s World: Multi-faith Perspectives. The diverse panel included Amy Eilberg, the first woman ordained a rabbi in Judaism’s Conservative Movement, and a teacher of inter-religious and intra-Jewish dialogue; Anantanand Rambachan, professor of religion, philosophy and Asian studies at St. Olaf College and a specialist in Hindu tradition and interreligious dialogue; and, Mark Unno, associate professor and religious …

Hamilton on Broadway - photo from New York Times post

Who tells your story?

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 2 Comments

As we headed back to Saint John’s University for the fall semester, two of my liturgy friends introduced me to their latest musical obsession. With the soundtrack from the Broadway musical Hamilton, playing from the car speakers, we geeked out over favorite lines, the brilliance of a particular rhyme and musical theme, the poignancy of each plot twist. Winner of 11 Tony awards (including best musical), a Pulitzer and a Grammy, the smash bio-epic about Alexander Hamilton and his fellow founding fathers is an acknowledged masterwork of storytelling, history, music and drama. Powered by a stunningly diverse cast, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, …

Rosy Kandathil shares reflections on the Rule of Benedict

Celibate intimacy – a real question

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Rule of Benedict, Spirituality Articles 2 Comments

“How do you experience intimacy as a celibate?” She looked up at me quizzically from her notebook. The young woman’s question caught me by surprise. I had just finished an interview with Pastor Pete Scazzero at New Life Fellowship church in New York City, where I’d been a member for nine years before coming to Holy Wisdom Monastery. My life at the monastery remained a mystery to many of the people I served at the church, people I still cared deeply about. I hoped that my answers might help bridge the gap for this busy urban church where monastic life might …

Monastic profession in a time of violence, division and fear

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 4 Comments

Openness to change is a cornerstone of Benedictine life, reflected in the vow of conversatio morum, traditionally understood as “conversion to the monastic way.” Conversatio points Benedictines to an openness of the heart, a commitment to conversion—a deep-seated orientation toward the Spirit’s call. At its best, Benedictine life is a fluid and flexible form, inspired by a 1500-year history and the examples of those who have gone before. Last week over 100 monks, sisters, nuns, oblates and students of theology attended the 2016 Monastic Institute hosted by Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, MN. Reflecting on the theme …

Sister Rosy after first profession and in the garden

Becoming a Sister

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 12 Comments

“So, do you go by ‘sister’ now?” The question never fails to pulls me up short, hesitating. In the uncomfortable silence that ensues, I wrestle internally to come up with an accurate response. My first profession was over 9 months ago, so the answer is technically yes. But the truth is more complex. The question touches an emerging part of my identity that is still feeling its way into the world. I struggle to introduce myself as “Sister Rosy” without pinching myself in disbelief. Whose life is this?  What’s in a name? First profession marks an important transition from the …