Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

Why Are You Here?

It’s a question we’re occasionally asked (by those courageous and curious enough to ask it) – “Why are you here, Sister?  Why did you choose this life?”  Sometimes the questioner asks who broke our hearts, or what tragedy happened to drive us behind cloister walls.  For no sane person would choose to give up spouse and children, career, modern-day conveniences, and all the other things our society associates with a good life, right?  Why are you here?

The readings for this last Sunday provide part of the answer and Saint Paul phrases it well:
“The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all… …that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”


We are here because of love.  We are madly, deeply in love with Jesus, because He first madly, deeply loved us and the world.  Everything else pales in comparison to being His bride and carrying souls to Him in prayer as spiritual mothers.  He invited us to live this cloistered, contemplative life, made possible only by cooperating with His abundant grace, and we responded with our “Yes!”  It is an extraordinary calling- obviously, not every Christian is called to live a cloistered life and there are often storms we encounter along the way, just like all the faithful.  Storms that would threaten to capsize us or make us turn back.  But with Jesus, our Love, we persevere.  This Gospel gives us several lessons for our journey.

An Invitation Demands A Response.  Jesus and His disciples had had a long day together with a crowd of people.  Then, Jesus suggests, “let’s cross the sea.”  So they leave the crowd and get into a boat.  In life, as we grow closer to Jesus, He wants to separate us from the crowd, that is, the world, and lead us across the sea, that is, to eternal life with Him.  But it is up to us to respond to His invitation.  Jesus is a gentleman and will never force us to accept His gifts, graces, or will.  At the same time, He knows us better than we know ourselves and knows what will ultimately be the best for us.  If we truly love Him, we will respond with generosity and gratitude.  We seek to know and keep His commandments and follow His will for our lives.  Love impels us to follow the Lover of our souls.


There Will Be Storms Along The Way.  Jesus gives us a direction – head across the water – and so we set out.  But then, the storms come.  Anyone who has spent time at sea knows storms are part of the environment; the sea is powerful and deadly – it inspires fear and awe in sailors.  Similarly, as we navigate through life seeking and doing God’s will, we encounter storms; sometimes the storms rage around us in the form of discouragement, ridicule, other abuses, or problems from those around us (sometimes these involve those who are closest to us, which makes the storms that much more painful).  Sometimes they rage within us – we realize we are getting further from the safety of land and become unsettled; looking around at the water and waves, our fears and anxieties grow.  The stormy waters threaten to capsize our little boat while we are bailing water as fast as we can.  We cry out to Jesus, “Don’t you care?!  Help!”  We can’t calm the wind and waves; all we can do is bail water.

We Have Not Been Left Alone.  Meanwhile, as we become more and more desperate and upset at the storm and what we think will be our impending doom, Jesus is sleeping in the stern of the boat.  And that’s an important point.  He is calm.  He is with us.  He has not abandoned us to sink into the depths.  And He hears our cries and He calms the seas.  But then, turning to us, he asks, “Don’t you trust me yet?”  When we seek to do God’s will, we must persevere, no matter the storm.  We must trust that the One who started us out on this journey will not leave us abandoned.  He has created us and placed us in this time, in this place, “for such a time as this.”  If we do not accept His invitation, set out to sea and weather the storms by trusting in His grace, power, and love for us, who will?  And what will become of those who God would call to Himself through us?

Jesus loves us madly.  So much so, he took on human flesh and then lived with us, died for us, and rose again.  Now He invites us to cross the sea and be with Him for all eternity.  He promised to be with us always along the way.  Every moment of every day, we have a new opportunity to accept or deny His invitation.  Do we risk it all and get into the boat?  How much do we really trust Jesus to calm the storms along the way?  Will we stay the course and persevere?  What will you choose?  Why are you here?

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Want to learn more about how to discover the gifts God has given you and about cloistered, contemplative life as a Dominican nun?  Contact Sr. Joseph Marie to register for our upcoming “Come-and-See” Day.  


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