Part Three of the Portrait of a Cloistered Dominican Nun Series
A Dominican nun lives a contemplative life at the heart of the Church – something in common with all cloistered contemplative religious. But the full flowering of her contemplative vocation is uniquely Dominican: the liturgy and sacraments form the foundation of her prayer; her mind is renewed and enlightened through study; she takes active part in her community and the common life; and by living her vows as a cloistered nun, she preaches to others that God alone suffices.
Her life is liturgical and sacramental, that is, a life founded on liturgical prayer and the sacraments. As a cloistered religious, the Church entrusts to her the mission of praying for and on behalf of the Church and the world. Seven times a day, she is called to the choir by her Beloved, to make an offering of sacrifice and praise and call down His graces for His people and the world. This grace, like blood in a body, is sent out to all the Church’s members for their needs. She also cherishes the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. As the sacrament of unity, it is the sacrament of contemplation, the sacrament of eternal life. It is Christ Jesus Himself.
The life of a Dominican nun is doctrinal. Her love for her Beloved is nourished through her study. If we do not know our faith, we run a grave risk of falling into error or even heresy. Study submits us to Truth and the teaching authority of the Church. Study is also absolutely indispensable for apostles. For we cannot love what (or who) we do not know – a Dominican nun studies so as to know her Beloved all the more and to be able to express her affective knowledge of Him to others. God grants us knowledge of Him in our heart through love; but study gives us the words and concepts to share the fruits of our contemplation with others, and so to lead them into the mysteries of the faith.
A Dominican nun lives a fraternal life; she takes active part in her monastic community and in the Dominican Order. As love is at the heart of the Church, so too is love at the heart of the Dominican Order. All members of the Order are called to live a common life together, as the early Church lived, calling nothing one’s own, but sharing everything in common. A Dominican nun gladly gives up not only her possessions, but she puts her knowledge, talents, and skills, to common use of the community, as God, through the superiors, see fit. A Dominican nun also shares freely her spiritual riches of soul and mind. All she has, all she is, is put at the service of the Order. Through her community, she is exercised in the virtues, which leads her to greater contemplation. Her life of fraternal charity manifests the Holy Trinity.
And finally, through her religious profession and living of the vows, the life of a Dominican nun is sacrificial. At baptism, every Christian dies to self and the world and is reborn as a new creation in Christ Jesus. At profession, that death and rebirth is renewed in a profound way – she is consecrated to Almighty God. She has become a “house of prayer”, set aside as sacred for God alone. Her sacrifice is herself and she gives herself daily by living according to the Rule, Constitutions and laws of the Order. The religious observances and rubrics of the Order, such as silence, fasting, abstinence, wearing of the habit, prayers, and so forth, stand as one of the means to achieve the ends of the Order. When a Dominican nun fulfills her vows and lives the observances with fidelity, they daily immolate her – through them she joins her Beloved on Calvary as she dies to self and the world for love.
Want to learn more about how to discover the gifts God has given you and about cloistered, contemplative life as a Dominican nun? Contact Sister Joseph Marie to register for our upcoming “Come-and-See” Day. The deadline to register is fast-approaching!