Sister Rosa Ciin, OSB
Shanti Nilayam, India

First steps in monastic life


ShantinilayamSrFirst of all I would like to begin with how I heard the Lord’s voice while I was enjoying myself with friends and engaged in worldly things. One day I was walking to the parish church and saw a scrap of paper on the road. I picked it up and read it. It was about the Benedictine nuns and I liked it. From that time onwards I had the desire to enter the monastery.

I started thinking of the real meaning of life. I felt it was a sign from God. So I decided to follow the Lord in the monastic way of life. I felt a great desire to be closer to God. In the world there were many distractions which distanced me from the Lord. Finally I entered the monastery, though my parents were not too happy about it. It was not so easy for me to leave my parents, brothers and sisters and friends. As soon as I entered the monastery I felt at home.

The sisters were very welcoming and made me feel at home. The monastery is like the early Christian community, sharing everything, living in unity despite different background, culture and language. My heart was full of joy, as I found a strong family spirit in the community. This experience made me forget the pleasures of modern technology, social media, mobile phone, etc. The use of these things gave temporary joy, but in the community I gain real joy from loving the Lord and the community members. Once I experienced the warmth of the community members I forgot the pleasures of the world. Now I can appreciate the world and all it offers in a different way. Everything is good if we use it for the good of all.

Though initially everything was fine, there were times when I faced problems and difficulties. Human nature always longs for pleasure and ease. Every form of life has its own problems and difficulties, but in the monastic life I experience deep inner joy. In the monastery everything is held in common, and we use the mobile phone and internet etc. only for absolute necessities. To live with people of different background and culture was not very easy. But as I enter more deeply into community life I have felt very peaceful and joyous in spite of difficulties and problems. The silent and calm atmosphere of the monastery helps us to hear the cry of the poor and the helpless in the world, and to help them by our prayers and small sacrifices.

ShantinilayamCommunity life helps us to live in harmony with one other and to serve one other. This helps me to come out of myself and share the feelings of others and appreciate their problems and difficulties. So I have become less selfish and more oriented towards others. I have also felt very much at home with St. Benedict’s Rule of life, especially hospitality and love of the poor. As a young religious I don’t have much contact with the outside world but I embrace the whole world by my prayer and sacrifice. Communion in the community and fraternal love is a sign to the world that we can live and love others in spite of the differences.

I appreciate and love the monastic life more and more as I advance in years. St Benedict says in the Prologue that as we advance in religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love. In all this I have learned that monastic life is easy and joyful if I take every situation of life to the Lord. I can live this life only with the help of God and with God. His yoke is easy and burden light when I cast all troubles and problems onto him.

People often don’t understand monastic life, but I love and appreciate it more and more each day. My earnest prayer is that many will answer the call of the Lord to follow him more closely in religious life.