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By the Rules

By the Rules - (13-07-2012)

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Photo: A handful of colored pencils helped two Benedictine Sisters during a recent month-long, intensive study of the Rule of St. Benedict.

When a woman enters the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she’s gifted with a copy of the Rule of St. Benedict.

But rarely do they get quite the instruction as Sister Lynn Marie D’Souza, OSB and Sister Nancy Rose Gucwa, OSB experienced during an intense, month-long study in June.

The two attended an exegesis, a critical interpretation, of the founding father’s Rule, which also offered practical applications to religious life. Led by world renown scholar Sister Aquinata Böckmann, OSB, and hosted by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, Neb., the course was attended by women religious from around the world.

“I had classes on the Rule as a novice, but they were not as intensive as this course was,” Sister Lynn Marie said. “I am very grateful to Sister Pat (Nyquist), our prioress general, who felt it would be helpful for me as a formation director to foster a good grounding in the Rule so that I could teach it to our novices in the future.

”The daily schedule for participants included three hours of lecture, afternoons filled with personal study and small breakout groups. Among the studies was a unique and insightful way of looking at something they’ve already spent years reading - with the aid of a few colored pencils.

“Sister Aquinata instructed us to underline the intensive language of the Rule, words like ‘always’ and ‘never,’ in one color, any reference to the monks in another, the abbot in another shade, their actions in yet another, and so forth,” Sister Lynn Marie said. “When you colored in the pages, you got an instant, overall sense of the chapter just by looking at the predominant colors on the page.”

Sister Aquinata’s scholarship on the Rule is widespread among the Benedictine community, and Sister Lynn Marie is grateful to have spent this time with her.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I loved Sister Aquinata's insights that she has gleaned from her decades of living and studying the Rule,” Sister Lynn Marie said. “I feel that she not only taught us the Rule but gave us the tools and methodology to enable us to continue to study on our own.”

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