- Altar Bread
Benedictine community life is a way of living concretely the Gospel commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:39) or, as Jesus amended it at the Last Supper, to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34).
Love lives in the ordinary.
In our first few months in Virginia Dale in 1997, the pump on our well got into the habit of taking vacations at inconvenient times -- Labor Day weekend, for example. We developed quite an efficient routine. One nun would go down to the farm, which had a working well, and haul a big plastic tank full of water up to the house on the back of our flatbed truck. Then all able-bodied nuns formed a bucket brigade to provide water for everyone. This was a new twist on the gospel words: Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward (Mark 9:41) ! (And, yes, we did get the pump fixed!)
We make a lifelong commitment to live together under one roof in mutual respect, mutual obedience, and, above all, mutual charity. St. Benedict urges us to treat one another with reverence and patience, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation whenever conflict arises. He instructs the young to respect their elders and the elders to love the young. Community life, sustained by communal and personal prayer, is one of the greatest tools we have for growth toward communion with God in Jesus Christ.
Within the community, we elect an abbess to serve as our superior and a council of senior members to advise her. The abbess appoints a prioress to assist her and a cellarer to oversee matters of finance and goods. All of the solemnly professed members of the community meet together regularly as a chapter to discuss, advise and make decisions regarding our life.