A Year Ago Today

St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the most beloved Dominican saints.  Most who know of the Angelic Doctor are familiar with his unparalleled contributions to philosophy and theology; some are familiar with more personal details about his life, such as how he came to enter the Dominican Order.  He faced many obstacles to joining the Dominican friars, but, by God’s grace, he was able to persevere and overcome.

On his feast day one year ago, I began my aspirancy with the Dominican nuns.  I had made a few visits in the two years prior and had corresponded with the sisters between visits.  But this would be the first time I would be allowed inside the cloister.  Excited and nervous, I turned off my cell phone and crossed the threshold to begin my month-long stay in the novitiate. 

As the sisters showed me to my cell and around the monastery, they told me, “this isn’t a usual weekend.”  Indeed.  As it was the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, a celebration was planned for that evening.  The next day brought the funeral of a nun who had passed away.  To see and experience community life during the death and funeral of one of the sisters was a profound and beautiful thing. 

It didn’t take long to settle into the rhythm of monastic life – prayer, study, work, meals, and recreation time with the sisters.  I was reminded of some of the reasons for God’s calling to monastic life every time I passed the bulletin board filled with notes and prayer requests from people who were suffering, or whose loved ones were suffering.  I was reminded again during visits with seminarians, friars and priests whose calling had taken them anywhere from across town to around the globe – they made a point of stopping by the monastery to visit with the sisters, share stories and wonderful conversation, and ask for continued prayers.  At Vietnamese New Year, the seminarians visited for a special Mass and a delicious shared feast and games in the parlor.  Halfway through my aspirancy, we entered Lent.  If it is even possible, a greater silence fell over the monastery as we entered even more deeply into fasting and penance.

All too soon, my time ended.  As I walked out the cloister door, I knew I needed to return to Alaska for a time and was sad to go.  But I was also filled with joy and hope that I would return in God’s time.  The past year has brought some unexpected twists, but that hope is even stronger.  St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

Comments

  1. Just wanted to let you know that I chanced upon this blog today and you’re very much in my prayers. I’m really excited for you – what a privilege to be called to a life of total consecration, prayer and contemplation!

    I’m a lay Dominican based in Australia and I’m currently an aspirant with the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, TN. Please do pray for me too.

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