Following the wisdom of our Holy Mother St. Clare, we strive to live in a communion of love in ‘holy unity and most high poverty’ (Testament of St. Clare). Our community life, lived in the warmth of a Franciscan family spirit is the atmosphere in which we live the vows (solemn promises) of chastity, poverty and obedience. We live in enclosure, also under a vow, which means that we don’t leave the monastery except, to quote St. Clare, for a ‘useful, reasonable, evident, and approved purpose’. (Rule Ch 3)
Our life is known as ‘contemplative’. This means that we don’t have any external ‘apostolate’ or particular work that we are dedicated to carrying out such as teaching or nursing. All our energies are instead directed to communion with God in prayer and with one another within the monastery. Our role in the Church is to show forth the truth that God is everything and the fulfilment of the deepest desires of the human heart.
Of course this does not mean that we are on our knees all day or that we don’t work. The monastery is often a hive of activity as can be seen from the photos in the gallery! Our work within the monastery is done in a contemplative and community spirit that fosters communion with God.
Our Life of Prayer and Adoration
The Liturgy of the Hours consecrates the whole day of the contemplative nun. It includes Psalms, passages from the scriptures and intercessions that are offered in the name of the Church and of all of humanity. The period of Matins, (prayer at midnight) is the first period of the prayer of the Divine Office.
Our day begins with Holy Mass, the focus of our day, since this is our daily encounter with the Risen Lord. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continues throughout the day and we also have some periods of silent prayer together. The words of St. Clare remind us that ‘the faithful soul is His tabernacle and His throne’.
When we succeed in living in God’s time, open to the epiphany underlying every little happening and every commonplace gesture, we are in fact engaging in a truly contemplative exercise and making a declaration of freedom in the face of a world that suffers from a self-centred understanding of time which pushes people towards despair or mindless escapism. The contemplative is a witness to the truth that time is not money but relationship.
Giacomo Bini OFM