On the deepest level there is only one vow, the vow to give oneself to God completely, in the monastic way of life and together with one's community. Obedience, stability and conversion of life are critical aspects of that underlying vow.
We vow to obey God, the Rule, our abbess, our community. All of us struggle with our own blindness and emotional attachments to our own wants and ways of doing things. The goal of obedience is not only a harmonious community, but primarily to assist each sister to grow in interior freedom from her own ego drives.
We vow to remain all our life with our local community. We live together, pray together, work together, relax together. We give up the temptation to move from place to place in search of an ideal situation. Ultimately there is no escape from oneself, and the idea that things would be better someplace else is usually an illusion. And when interpersonal conflicts arise, we have a great incentive to work things out and restore peace. This means learning the practices of love: acknowledging one's own offensive behavior, giving up one's preferences, forgiving.
conversion of life
We vow to live a simple, celibate life according to the customs of our monastery, and to be always open to change and grow. We are to accept with contentment the basic monastic regimen of our community and live out community decisions in a cooperative spirit. Above all, we must always be willing to ask forgiveness, to change our way of thinking and behaving, and to learn new and more loving ways of being toward other people and toward God.
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God.
- Ephesians 6,12-13
The monk makes these promises in the presence of all, in the oratory: stability, conversion of life, and obedience.
- The Rule of Saint Benedict, 58.17
No one is to do what she judges better for herself, but rather what is better for the other.
- The Rule of Saint Benedict, 72.7.
Stay in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.
- Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Progressing in this way of life ["conversion"] and in faith, we will run in the way of God's commandments, our hearts expanding with the unspeakable sweetness of love.
- The Rule of Benedict, Prologue 49.