A Further Reflection on Monastic Decorum

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Yesterday we received some thought-provoking comments after posting the article on decorum. I asked the novice directress if one of the novices could reply since she recently took the course.  Here is what Sr. Lucia Marie had to share:

In our monastic decorum class, we do learn some of the things you mention pertaining to posture and how we carry ourselves, but it isn’t intended to turn us into robots!  The way it is taught is very much in keeping with the ideas of the passage Sister shared in the original post, that is, we seek to express an inner dignity and gentleness in our behavior. 

Our decorum class goes far beyond simply teaching do’s and don’ts of manners, and emphasizes the inner spirit that should animate all our actions so that we can grow into that “instinctive consideration for the feelings of others and a spontaneous preference for good form.”  For example, when we learn about the times and places of silence within this monastic community, we also read excerpts from the teachings of the Desert Fathers on the importance of silence for bringing all in the community closer to Lord who dwells in our midst. (Hence – no whistling!) 

Similarly, we learn from St. John Paul II the dignity of the human person, especially our dignity as women, and then turn to how to manifest our recognition of this dignity in our actions, both in our personal comportment and our treatment of our sisters (like offering a smile or a bow of the head when we pass one another in the corridors). 

To sum this all up, we do learn guidelines of how to behave, but more than that we seek to acquire a gentle heart and attentiveness that will enable us to adapt appropriately to each situation we encounter in our daily lives, so that we can do all things – taking a meal, recreating, praying the divine office, working in the garden – whole-heartedly and from a love of God and neighbor!

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3 thoughts on “A Further Reflection on Monastic Decorum

  1. you sisters are definitely not robotic you are instruments of our dear Lord keep up the good work I don’t fully understand monastic decorum although I am sure it is beautiful

  2. Thank you for sharing these insights into what makes up “monastic decorum.” Sounds like a course that all human beings should be required to take before graduating from high school! If all of us could master these simple steps, life could be much more pleasant for all of us!! God bless you!

  3. Thanks so much for your reply! No whistling during times and places of silence, but I hope sometime when you are out for a walk or at recreation you can whistle a happy tune in thanksgiving to our good God. I love that you are not being trained to be robotic–I could already see that from the photos on your website, but sometimes decorum is still an interesting topic to me.

    For instance, one of our oldest nuns asked me why the girls in our school say “No problem” when she thanks them for something. I’mnoticing now people are saying “My pleasure” more often in response to a “thank you” and that “no problem” seems to be losing ground. One’s person’s decorum is another person’s mystery sometimes, I guess. I do think your emphasis on a gentle spirit and consideration for others is wonderful and may have been what my own novice mistress meant, but communicated in a much stricter and more severe way all those years ago.

    Best wishes to each and every one of you dear Sisters.

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