Part Five of the Portrait of a Cloistered Dominican Nun Series
The life of the Dominican nun is one of chastity: she lives a life of charity and the other theological virtues whereby her mind is united to God. True chastity is not just about sex and the body. Lust and cupidity depersonalizes and dehumanizes by causing a disintegration of the person. We begin to see others and ourselves as things to be controlled and used for selfish pleasure and become no better than beasts following instinctual urges. Conversely, repressing our sexuality and passions in an effort to preserve or elevate the spiritual also leads to dehumanization; taken far enough, it can lead to neurosis. Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus inner unity in bodily and spiritual being. It is both physical and spiritual – it demands a chaste attitude of mind rooted in charity. The virtue of chastity personalizes and makes us human by bringing unity between body and spirit.
Modesty adorns a Dominican nun’s chastity and clothes her body and her actions. In all things – from her look to her laugh to her walk and posture – she reflects her status as the bride of Christ and handmaid to Mary our Queen and Mother. In her words and actions, she reflects purity and raises the hearts and minds of those in her company to consider our Lady and the things of eternity. She protects her heart and those parts of herself most intimate to her, both in her body and soul, reserving them for her Beloved Spouse. He is jealous of her and will suffer no rivals for her heart. But in offering herself, body and spirit, to God alone, she is made free to love all those who God brings into her life.
Chastity and modesty rule all her relationships. Beginning with Adam and Eve, relationships should have reflected mutual self-giving and reception. But after the fall, these relationships are now bent by the desire to control others and to seek selfish pleasure. A Dominican nun cultivates relationships with others based on charity, willing first the good of the other. Her relationships are carefully chosen and are not primarily based on how they make her feel or if she obtains some benefit from the other person or relationship. She prays for God’s grace to protect her from being attracted to be friends with the wrong persons, to love the other as the image of God and not for selfish motives, and to love others in proper measure.
Through her life of chastity, her affections are purified and brought in proper order with her intellect and will. She is made truly free to see all that is good and beautiful in creation and other people and to love creation and all people as God loves.
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!