Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

The Monastic Life of the Dominican Nuns

OPnunsmenlo1Dedicated to a contemplative life, Dominican nuns are “called by God, like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus and to listen to His words.”  (Luke 10:39) This is a call to be His disciple, to listen, to reflect, to contemplate, to see and to love deeply.  The discovery of the Divine Mystery is what makes the life of a contemplative vital to our world.  To be a contemplative is to be willing to stand “near the cross of Jesus” (John 19:25) and to be transformed into Christ and to encounter Him in His Passion, Death and Resurrection and to be intercessors for the needs of our world.

Prayer is the center and heart of our life.   Our monastic enclosure, with silence, study, work and penance contribute to the growth within us of a life of prayer and a living and loving relationship with God.

 

ENCLOSURE:

      The external act of withdrawal to enter the cloister is only the beginning of a life-time of gradually embracing a whole new set of values which brings one into intimate contact with God and His creation.  Enclosure is not a restriction imposed from without, but a force of attraction from within alluring one to God.  Enclosure is the religious observance that supports withdrawal from distractions and superficialities and calls for a quality of depth in the pursuit of God, a life of charity, and a stable conversion of life which leads to a deeper communion with our world through intercession and reparation.

 

SILENCE:

      By the practice of silence, we learn to use speech for the sake of truth and love.

 

STUDY:

      In our Constitutions, it is stated that “The methodical study of sacred truth, according to the capacity of the individual, is a fruitful preparation for lectio divina and an aid to human maturity.” (LCM # 100 I ).  St. Dominic recommended some form of study to the first nuns as an authentic observance of the Order.  It not only nourishes contemplation, but also removes the impediments which arise through ignorance and informs the practical judgment.  In this way it fosters the fulfillment of the evangelical counsels with a more enlightened fidelity and encourages unanimity of mind.  By its very constancy and difficulty it constitutes a form of asceticism and aids mental equilibrium.”  (LCM # 100 II)

 

WORK:

      The daily schedule of the nuns makes provision for the general plan of work by which our prayer life is fostered and fulfilled.  Work and study projects are organized within the framework of Dominican monastic life.  The common good takes into consideration all the essential elements of monastic life: obedience, poverty, interpersonal relationships and group interaction, the liturgy, private prayer, study, lectio divina, recreation and rest, enclosure and silence.  The contemplative nun finds God hidden in her daily chores as well as in special projects that demand intellectual pursuits. In purity of heart and ardent love she seeks God everywhere and like the bride in the Song of Songs, she can claim: “I found Him Whom my heart loves.”  (Song of Songs 3:4)

 

PENANCE:

      There is the regular monastic rhythm of each day with its scheduled time for prayer, work and meals in common.  This requires an implicit need to sacrifice one’s natural inclination and personal interest with regard to work assignments and use of time.  There is the constant self discipline needed to maintain a quiet atmosphere and the sustained effort toward inner attentiveness to the presence of God and His Word as it comes to us in each moment.  There are the implications of an enclosed life without escape either from one’s own inner self and its struggles or from the demands of common life and fraternal charity, as well as respect between women of differing backgrounds, temperament and personal mannerisms.

There is no greater gift than the invitation of God to unwrap the gift of His Love in prayer and contemplation.  It takes this serious and consistent attentiveness to God’s Presence to ensure that we are not restless wanderers but true pilgrims and wise and prudent virgins who are watchful and ready, open and receptive, passing through the world and illuminating it.  Like Dominic, we are joyful in transmitting the message of hope to our world by “being” present to God and to each other.