What’s the Relevance of Cloistered Life?
Today was definitely a “Martha” day as we prepared to enter a 4 day retreat, Sunday through Wednesday. The great feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is Thursday and our Founder had a great love for this feast. He saw it is a celebration of our Lady’s “yes” to God and the role she would play in the Mystery of Redemption. Passionist Nuns throughout the world (about 27 monasteries) will renew our vows on this day during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Renewing our “yes” to be handmaids of Redemption. Our retreat is to prepare us for this renewal of our consecration.
November 21st is also Pro Orantibus Day. A day set aside to “pray for those who pray” to pray for monks and nuns dedicated to the contemplative life.
Will you please keep us in prayer? That we will receive many graces to persevere in loving fidelity to God’s call in our lives. Also, that afternoon will bring us a Nun Run (a group of 40 gals traveling to different monasteries, convents to learn about consecrated life). Perhaps one or more of these young women are called to enter Passionist life!
Enjoy this excellent article by our Sr. Rose Marie…
The Case for a Cloister
by Sister Rose Marie of the Merciful Heart of Jesus, C.P.
What is the purpose of the cloistered vocation? What does it look like? What value do the nuns’ hidden lives have for the Church and for the world?
As implied by the adjective “contemplative”, cloistered contemplative nuns come to the cloister to enter into a contemplative prayer relationship with the Holy Trinity. This is their vocation in the Church. This does not mean they do nothing else, but it does mean that all else is secondary.
Contemplative prayer is not the same as what the dictionary defines as “contemplation.” In its essence, the prayer of contemplation is not about deep thinking or concentration. It is about profound and all-absorbing contact with God Himself, Who dwells within each baptized soul. This “contact” happens on the deepest level of our being.
Receptivity to contemplative prayer takes work. Since it is primarily a relationship, it cannot be brought about simply by willing it. It can only be accessed through great attention and docility to the Holy Spirit. How does one actually become attentive to the Holy Spirit? There are two main ways: practicing virtue, and keeping a recollected spirit.
The enclosure within which cloistered nuns live exists mainly to enable them to do these two things more easily, so that they will be able to enter into a contemplative prayer relationship with the Lord. It does this by fostering an environment of peaceful silence within a Christian community.
Just as families need a home to live out their vocation properly, contemplative nuns need a cloister. A cloister enables nuns to authentically live out their vocation, which is not defined so much in terms of activity as it is defined by this unique relationship with God at the deepest level of their being.
Jesus lived 30 years of his human life hidden and unknown to most of the world. In those years of obscurity, far from wasting his time, He was already working the world’s salvation.
As Dom Marmion says,
He who comes to redeem the world wills to save it first of all by a life hidden from the eyes of the world… This mystery of the hidden life contains teachings which our faith ought eagerly to gather up.
(Christ in His Mysteries)