Folk Artist: A “Living Rule”

Years ago our Sisters lived in a large convent in St. Nazianz, WI. The 23 Sisters had a beautiful chapel and in the morning a Salvatorian Brother came to “serve Mass.” One of the Brothers named Brother Florentine, had a white beard, eyebrows that met across his forehead and wore a black cassock with a rosary of 15 decades on his belt. I imagined I was seeing how the first members looked in the early days when we were founded in the 1800’s!

This memory inspired me to think about those brothers and sisters in our religious congregation who could easily have been a “Living Rule.” Each congregation had to show that they lived out the “spirit” in which they were founded for the Church. How they were to live was written in a small hand held book called a Rule Book. This Rule was inspirational and suggested how the members were to live in union with one another.

Brother Florentine came and served in silence while he was with us for Mass, spent time in silent prayer in the Chapel and seemed to me to live the Rule that I was learning as a young Sister. Of course when he returned to his monastery to live with the other Brothers during the day I did not see him. He probably had human flaws and personality quirks like the rest of us.

The persons whom I felt were the Living Rules showed me how to live kindness, be faithful to serving others, and have joy in being a Sister… everything I hoped to become as a Sister.

Today I know many of these mentors and I have lived with some of them. It means a lot to me to see other Sisters who enliven the written Rule with their lives. I also have learned that no single member can be the one Living Rule and each of us has to become the gift God makes her to be for other members.

Sister Karlyn Cauley, SDS

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