Monday, November 26, 2012

Passionist Nuns

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently spent a good amount of time visiting with contemplative nuns and learning about their lives. In this post - and the next few - I want to share some of the things I learned. There are pictures coming; I have to figure out the whole download/upload piece for the camera I used. 

The Passionist Nuns
In the heart of the Church, these women live the remembrance of the Passion. With joy and total commitment, they render continual thanks to God for the overwhelming love he demonstrated in sending his Son to suffer the Passion for us. They unite every action with this saving crucified love, for the salvation of their sisters and brothers throughout the world.

The life is austere but full of joy. The nuns have full papal enclosure, which gives them complete separation from the world. In old movies, you see this type of enclosure which includes walls and grilles to maintain distance from all the distractions outside the monastery. The idea is not to shut the nuns in so much as to shut out the distractions of a very loud and importunate world. The whole focus of their lives is Christ, and prayer to him - and prayer is much hindered by every type of noise, internal and external. So they step away to focus.

These nuns pray the entire divine office - rising for Matins (Office of Readings) at 2:00 am and following that with thirty minutes of prayer. They rise again later for the regular day. They return again and again throughout the day to the Lord - both privately and as a community, bringing always to remembrance the great love of God, given to us in the Passion of Jesus.

The Passionist nuns take five simple vows: 
  • To promote devotion to and grateful remembrance of the Passion; 
  • Chastity;
  • Poverty;
  • Obedience; and
  • Enclosure
They live their poverty in a very austere life, but the monastery must have an income. They bake altar breads and maintain a prayer guild for their livelihood and apostolic service, but their main work for the Church is their prayer.

The time of formation is fairly standard: 
  • Candidacy - a longer live-in period before making the decision for entrance; 
  • Postulancy - 12 - 18 months;
  • Vestition - receive the habit, white veil, sandals and a new name. (Pictures are coming!) The Sister may also receive a title of spiritual nobility; this is her choice. The period of novitiate is one year, but may be extended if necessary;
  • The time of temporary profession lasts six years, with yearly renewal of vows.
The Passionist nuns were founded by St. Paul of the Cross in 1771. He wanted women who would give back to God love - for all of the great love he has given us.

If you are interested in more information, here is the link to the website for the Passionist nuns.

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