02 February 2008

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

As the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the temple, we are invited to pray for those in (and those considering a vocation to) the consecrated life. We thought, as a help to those who might be discerning, it might be nice to share some "signs" which may indicate that a woman has a vocation to the monastic life.

10. You find yourself beginning and ending every activity with a prayer. Not a bad habit to cultivate for all walks of life. "The sisters should remember that all work, united to that of Christ, is a sharing in the total work of creation and redemption" (Constitutions XVI).

9. You have cancelled your credit cards. You notice a sudden desire to "leave everything" and follow Christ and your credit cards are the first things you leave behind! "The sisters promise to have no wealth but that of the community" (Constitutions V).

8. You have changed your ringtone to the Halleluiah Chorus. Instead of using one of the generic ringtones pre-programmed on your phone (or a nifty pop-song that you've downloaded) you have "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" announcing each phonecall for you. Sorry, but cell phones are not covered in our Constitutions.

7. You respond to the sound of a bell. When you hear a bell, you either pray or eat. "Be assiduous in prayer at the hours appointed!" (Rule of St. Augustine)

6. When you visit for a retreat you leave something behind. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it is usually a good sign that you may want to return. "From experience, the sisters know that hospitality stimulates their own fidelity and deepens their life of prayer" (Constitutions XIV).

5. Sephora has taken you off their mailing list. Since you no longer take advantage of thier gift-with-purchase incentive, they have removed you from their mailing list. Instead, you find yourself receiving "Mystic Monk Coffee" ads in your email inbox. Make-up not covered in our Constitutions.

4. You no longer feel the urge to "shop 'till you drop." Instead, you find yourself preparing for Christmas by spending more time in prayer and checking the internet for nearby Churches that have Adoration. "By vocation the sisters are called to the contemplative life. Prayer is at the center of their existence" (Constitutions VIII).

3. You've simplified your wardrobe. You notice a sudden change in your ensembles for work. You no longer delight in coordinating outfits for different occasions and you find yourself wearing the same clothing day after day. "The habit is to be conceived in such as way as to be a sign of consecration, a witness to poverty, and an expression of fidelity to the tradition proper to the Order" (Constitutions JN 146).

2. When visiting for retreat, you manifest a willingness to put away flatware. Fidelity in small matters is highly valued in monastic life since "big matters" don't often come our way. Retreatants (and postulants!) who cheerfully reach for the flatware as it exits the dishwasher show promising signs of a vocation. "The sisters value every task, whether manual or intellectual" (Constitutions XVI).

1. Jesus Christ. "To have chosen Jesus for the only object of your love is to have promised that your hearts shall have no other affections than to please Him, to love and serve Him, and that all your desires shall be for Jesus, all your solicitudes for Jesus, all your thoughts for Jesus, in a word, all your soul and all your faculties for Jesus alone, Whom, of your pure unconstrained and free will, you have chosen for the only Spouse of your heart, and the sole object of your love" (St. Jane de Chantal).

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