On November 21, feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, the Dominican Nuns at the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama celebrated the vestition of their postulant, Sister Nicole. In a simple ceremony, Sister Nicole received the habit and her religious name: Sister Mary Thomas of the Holy Name of Jesus, O.P.
During the ceremony, Prioress Mother Mary Joseph, O.P., spoke of the symbolism of the Dominican habit. The white represents purity of heart with which the nuns love Christ above all else; the black represents penance which guards this purity. Our Lady gave the scapular to the Order as a mark of her protection. Finally, the rosary is hung from the belt as the nuns’ powerful weapon of prayer for the salvation of souls.
It is this dual mission of contemplative availability to God and apostolic zeal for souls which drew Sister Mary Thomas to the cloistered Dominican vocation. During her two years as a novice, she will strive to fulfill the words of the concluding prayer: “May you apply yourself assiduously to following our Holy Father St. Dominic so that you may be ready for the day of your espousals to Jesus Christ.”
The Dominican nuns live a monastic life “free for God alone,” so that their hearts can receive His Word and bear fruit for His glory and the salvation of souls. Their daily life centers on the Liturgy, sung in English and in their traditional Dominican Latin chant, as well as Eucharistic Adoration and Perpetual Rosary, study and work. To learn more, visit the nuns’ website at StJudeMonastery.org.
This is the first part of an article from the Catholic Chronicle, the newspaper of the Diocese of Toledo, reprinted with permission.
Behind the walls of the Monastery of the Visitation on Parkside Boulevard in Toledo, a small community of women religious devote their lives to praying for the people of the Diocese.
To support and honor members of this and other contemplative orders around the world, Catholics are asked to offer specials prayers for cloistered women and men religious Nov. 21, which has been designated as Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”).
Pope John Paul II asked the ecclesial event be observed worldwide in 1997 to thank those in the cloistered and monastic life for serving as “a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world,” and to remind others of the need to provide spiritual and material support to these communities.
Visitation Sister Sharon Elizabeth Gworek, superior of the contemplative Visitation Order in Toledo, says it is “providence” that Pope John Paul designated the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple for this purpose, since that happens to be the same day all members of the Visitation Order worldwide renew their vows.
Read the entire article and see a video about the Sisters at the Catholic Chronicle.
Visit the Sisters of the Visitation of Toledo, Ohio.
Pro Orantibus Day Recalls Cloistered Communities as the “Heart” of the Church
Chicago, IL — Catholics throughout the world are encouraged to honor the cloistered and monastic life on Pro Orantibus Day, which is Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.
“The primary purpose of Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”) is to thank God for the tremendous gift of the cloistered and monastic vocation in the Church’s life,” noted Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. “Since the lives of these women and men religious dedicated to prayer and sacrifice is often hidden, this annual celebration reminds us of the need to support their unique mission within the Body of Christ,” he added.
In 1997 Bl. Pope John Paul II asked that this ecclesial event be observed worldwide on November 21, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple. It is a special day to thank those in the cloistered and monastic life for serving as “a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world.” It is also intended to remind others of the need to provide spiritual and material support “for those who pray.”
Pope Benedict XVI has spoken often of the tremendous value of the cloistered, contemplative life. Speaking to a group of cloistered Dominican nuns in Rome, the Holy Father referred to such religious as “the heart” which provides blood to the rest of the Body of Christ. He noted that in their work and prayer, together with Christ, they are the “heart” of the Church and in their desire for God’s love they approach the ultimate goal.
The nationwide effort to publicize Pro Orantibus Day is coordinated by the Institute on Religious Life, a national organization based in Chicago.
For instruction and aids to celebrate the day please see our FREE resources.
(Click for printable PDF of this reflection.)
In observance of Pro Orantibus Day 2012
Reading: Lk 19:11-28
Mary accomplished outwardly through her body what wisdom from within gave to her faith.
— St. Lawrence Justinian
These words, taken from the Office of Readings for the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, can help us glimpse how the journey of a single disciple and that of his or her community are intimately A Day of Support for Cloistered Life.
“For Those Who Pray” connected and together form a response of faith. In fact, communities of the contemplative life seek to establish within themselves the same dynamic connection that made the Virgin Mary both a hearer and doer of the Word. The journey of an individual, in fact, happens and grows in the atmosphere of a community that is genuinely dedicated to a search for God.
The parable proclaimed in today’s reading from Luke speaks of some servants who received varying amounts of money from their king. The “coins” are often seen to be the personal gifts or talents that God bestows on each of us in varying degrees. However, we could also understand the “coins” as the gift of time, and the members of the contemplative life invite us to consider how we use the grace of each new day.
One day our Mother foundress, Mother Mary Agnes Faulhaber, revealed to her companions on the Toledo Foundation a special grace she received on Holy Thursday. Our Lord revealed to her that “this foundation is to be for the manifestation of the glory of His Sacred Heart and that it will be so in proportion as its members practice self-abasement, self-effacement, self-contempt and self-annihilation.” These words sound harsh to a world in which one’s worth seems to depend on rank, honor, prestige, wealth. But if we go to an old Webster’s Dictionary (the 1935 edition to be exact) we will discover that they are an apt description of the life of Our Lord.
We are presented with a program of humility though which we experience the presence of God in the soul. Quite simply it is the life of our Lord who is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It is the hidden life.
For more information, go to the Sisters of the Visitation of Toledo, Ohio.
Peace and Blessings! God reward you for the family news. Now to give another glimpse of my life here at the monastery. One great joy I want to share is that I’m becoming a polyglot! I’m learning a new language. A second language in the cloister? Yes, because silence is the language of God and you may recall that silence was not my predominant virtue! Here in our cloister it is an essential part of our union with Him. I pray someday it will become my best language!
Silence is also the language of love, another reason to become most fluent in it. I think the interior silence is the hardest to learn. Memories, images and thoughts tend to crowd in and occupy the mind. It takes practice not to pay undue attention to them and really focus on the present moment with full attention, intention and deliberation. So much to learn! Soon we will enter the great silence of Lent. More about that another time! How are the dogs, and that troublesome cat next door? Love and miss you, but we are one in heart and prayer!
Sister Mary Neophilus
To learn more, go to the website of the Corpus Christi Monastery of the Poor Clare Colettines in Rockford, IL and read, “A Life of Prayer and Worship.”
As Visitation Sisters around the world look forward to the feast of St. Francis de Sales Jan 24, the sisters in the United States say that the spirituality crafted by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal remains strong and shows signs of growth.
That’s true, judged by web visits to the Sisters’ new Second Federation website, begun last February. Visits have increased to 650 per month, and the website has posted a steady stream of articles on Salesian spirituality, while explaining little-known devotions and facts in the lives of the two founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal.
This spirituality is suited for both those living in the world, and for contemplative life, such as that of sisters living in the Visitation’s cloistered communities. The 1999 Vatican instruction Verbi Sponsa states, “. . . Just as in the upper room, Mary in her heart, with her prayerful presence, watched over the origins of the Church, so too now the Church’s journey is entrusted to the loving heart and praying hands of cloistered nuns” (No. 4).
The Order, formally known as the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, was founded in 1610 by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in Annecy, in eastern France. The Order spread from France throughout Europe and beyond. Today the group numbers approximately 2,500 Sisters in more than 150 monasteries throughout the world. They are growing in Africa; there is a monastery in Korea, and in South and Central America the houses continue to expand.
For more information on the Visitation and its spirituality for religious and laity, visit the Second Federation of the Visitation. Learn also about cloistered Visitation communities, such as the Toledo, OH Visitation.
John was disappointed that the Carmelites no longer lived by the strict Rule that they were known for. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun who became a famous saint and Doctor of the Church, told John that she had been given permission to begin convents based on the original Rule. She asked John to join her in this work.
Teresa and John’s reforms meet with anger and resistance. Some friars did not like the changes John suggested. They imprisoned John in a dark and dirty cell. It was in those terrible conditions that he wrote some of his most beautiful poetry and mystical writings.
Even though John lived many years ago, from 1541 to 1591, his spiritual legacy is still read today by people who want to grow in their relationship with the Lord. One of John’s most famous sayings is, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
The Poor Clares of Rockford, IL have had a spiritual bond with the Diocese of Bismarck, N.D., that goes back a few years. That bond increased dramatically Oct. 19, when their former chaplain, Msgr. David D. Kagan, Vicar General of the Rockford Diocese, was announced the bishop-elect of Bismarck.
There is a story behind this. Several years ago the vocation director of the Bismarck diocese asked the sisters for prayers for all of the seminarians. The Poor Clares have been ever mindful of that commitment, and now one of Rockford’s own priests will be their shepherd. The sisters report that it was delightful to spend an hour with Bishop-Elect Kagan in their visiting parlor, learning all about his new diocese. A fellow “worker” at the Chancery, border-collie Dash (whose duty it was to keep the geese off the chancery grounds) will accompany the bishop-elect to North Dakota.
“At least he will enjoy the snow,” comments Msgr. Kagan. There is a wonderful presence of religious men and women in the Bismarck diocese. However, since a cloistered contemplative group is not present there, the Poor Clares are spiritually adopting the Bismarck Diocese along with its new bishop!
The desire of St. Clare — that her sisters support the Mystical Body — is alive in this century.
Read the Poor Clare articles on this website.
For more information, visit the Rockford Poor Clares.
Endless news, noise and crowds have made people afraid of silence and solitude, which are essential for finding God’s love and love for others, Pope Benedict XVI said during an October 9 visit to the Carthusian monastery in Serra San Bruno in Calabria.
Progress in communications and transportation has made life more comfortable, as well as more “agitated, sometimes frantic,” the Holy Father said, especially in cities, where there is a constant din, even all night.
Young people seem to want to fill every moment with music and video, and there is a growing risk that people are more immersed in a virtual world rather than in reality because of the constant stream of “audiovisual messages that accompany their lives from morning to night,” Benedict noted.
Monasteries remind people of the need for silent reflection, which lets people delve into the apparent emptiness of solitude and experience real fullness, that is, God’s presence and true reality, the Pope reflected.
By spending time alone in quiet prayer, people find life’s essentials and unity with others, he said.
Read complete story at Catholic News Service.