The following is a letter to a fictional young woman discerning a Dominican monastic vocation. It is the second in a series of Vocation Letters which will accompany her discernment and formation.
Ave + Maria
Joyful greetings on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We’re glad to hear you enjoyed such a good Christmas holiday with your family. Our Christmas was very beautiful as well—Father sang Midnight Mass in Latin with a solemnity truly befitting Christ’s birth. In the monastery the Liturgy carries us through all the seasons of the Church year, so that we can experience again in ourselves the graces of each of the mysteries of Christ’s life. Each year seems to bring something new even in the midst of all our traditional celebrations.
I am glad you asked about the role of our vocation as cloistered nuns in an Order dedicated to apostolic preaching, because this is so central to our identity as Dominican nuns. We are contemplative nuns, “free for God alone,” as our Holy Father St. Dominic founded us to be, but at the same time we are associated with the “holy preaching” of his Dominican friars by our prayer and penance. There is a beautiful passage from the letter of Fr. Anecitus Fernandez, O.P., the Master General who introduced our new Constitutions. He says: “The contemplative life of the nuns is of the greatest benefit to the apostolate of the Order, not only because, like other contemplatives, they offer their prayers and their life to God on behalf of the apostolic needs of the Church, but also because their contemplation and their life, inasmuch as they are truly and properly Dominican, are from the beginning and by their very nature ordered to the apostolate which the Dominican family exercises as a whole, and in which alone the fullness of the Dominican vocation is to be found.” It is a great motive for fidelity and joy in living our cloistered, contemplative life, to know that we are living it on behalf of and in union with our brethren the Dominican friars (and the other members of the Dominican family) in their consecration to God and in their preaching for the salvation of souls.
That is also why we recommend reading the Spiritual Motherhood for Priests booklet (PDF) published by the Congregation for the Clergy. Although it is not about Dominican nuns, the stories it contains illustrate so vividly the value of a hidden life of prayer and penance for the salvation of souls. We hope that is a help.
Concerning your visit, the dates you mention work well for us. Flying is no problem; just send us your flight information and we will have a friend pick you up at the airport. We hope your semester has gotten off to a good start, and we will look forward to seeing you next month!
With prayers in Our Lady,
“Sister Mary Magistra”