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Volume 4 November, 1985 

DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH is published by the Conference of the Nuns of the 
Order of Preachers of the United States of America. The Conference is an organ- 
ization of independent monasteries whose purpose is to foster the monastic contem- 
plative life of the nuns in the spirit of Saint Dominic. 

Sister Mary of God, O.P. (North Guilford) 

Sister Mary Catherine, O.P., Coordinator (Elmira) 
Sister Mary Martin, O.P. (Summit) Sister Mary of Jesus, O.P. (Bronx) 

Business Management: Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, O.P. 

Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. '(West Springfield) 

DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH is a spiritual and theological review written by 
the nuns. Its purpose is to foster the Dominican monastic contemplative life by 
the sharing of insights gained from study and prayer. It is published once a year 
as a service to the nuns. It is also available to the wider Dominican Family and 
others UDon request, from whom a donation of $4.00 to aid in the cost of printing 
would be appreciated, when possible. 

Contributions to this review should be researched and prepared with concern 
for literary and intellectual quality. Manuscripts submitted should be clearly 
typed, single spaced, on one side of the paper only. The deadline for manuscripts 
is .October 1st of each year. Minor editing will be done at the discretion of the 
editors. If major changes are desired, these will be effected in dialogue with 
the authors. The editors, in consultation with the Conference Council, reserve 
the right to reiect inappropriate manuscripts, though reasons will be given to 
the authors with courtesy and encouragement. The Open Forum section is offered 
to those nuns who would like the opportunity to express their ideas briefly and 
informally, and to encourage dialogue among the nuns on spiritual subjects. Each 
separate contribution ( to Open Forum should be limited to approximately 500 words. 

All book reviews and poetry should be sent to Sister Mary of Jesus (Bronx) . 
Open Forum contributions should be sent to Sister Mary Martin (Summit) . All 
other articles should be sent to Sister Mary Catherine (Elmira) . 


All Rights Reserved 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois 


Editorial 1 

Florilegia on Saint Augustine's Letter 211 5 

Sr. Maria Rose, O.P. (Summit) 

On the Love of God and Neighbor 17 

Sr. Mary of Christ, O.P. (Los Angeles) 

Augustinian Themes in Our Basic Constitution 21 

Sr. Mary of the Precious Blood, O.P. (Buffalo) 

Intimate Encounter 23 

Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. (West Springfield) 

Comparative Study on Regular Observance 24 

Sr. Mary of the Annunciation, O.P. (Lufkin) 

Study in the Dominican Tradition 39 

Sr. Mary of Jesus, O.P. (Bronx) 

Autumn Scene (Poem) 46 

Sr. Mary Regina, O.P. (West Springfield) 

The Role of Solitude in Dominican Contemplative Life 47 

Sr. Mary Bernard, O.P. (Summit) 

Truth 53 

Sr. Mary Joseph, O.P. (Los Angeles) 

The Father's Word (Poem) 55 

Sr. Mary of the Holy Spirit, O.P. 

Communio and Missio 56 

Sr. Mary Thomas, O.P. (Buffalo) 

In the Garden of Tomorrow (Poem) 60 

Sr. Mary Rose Dominic, O.P. (Summit) 

A Trilogy 61 

Sr. Mary Margaret, O.P. (Buffalo) 

Mary's Answer (Poem) 67 

Sr. Regina Marie, O.P. (Syracuse) 

The Sanctity of Curupira 68 

Sr. Marie Damien, O.P. (Brazil) 

Curupira' s Rosary 70 

Translated by Sr. Mary of the Trinity, O.P. (Lufkin) 

A Suitable Place (Homily: Blessing of Washington Monastery) 73 

Rev. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. 

Father Vicaire on Contemplative Life: Report 77 

Sr. Myriam, O.P. (Zelem, Belgium) 

Joseph 81 

Sr. Mary of the Assumption, O.P. (West Springfield) 

The Eternal Now of the Liturgy 85 

Mother Mary William, O.P. (Lufkin) 

The Hidden Life 90 

Translated by Sr. Mary of the Holy Cross, O.P. (Buffalo) 

The Fear of the Lord is Our Cross 92 

Sr. Mary Catherine, O.P. (Elmira) 

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Poem) 97 

Sr. Mary Joseph, O.P. (Los Angeles) 

Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Interior Castle 98 

Sr. Mary Emily, O.P. (Lufkin) 

Reading and Prayer 112 

Translated by Sr. Mary Regina, O.P. (West Springfield) 


The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Tradition - Tugwell, O.P. . . 123 
Sr. Mary Thomas, O.P. (Buffalo) 

The Summit Choirbook 123 

Sr. Mary Magdalen, O.P. (Farmington Hills) 

The Way of the Heart - Nouwen 124 

Sr. Maria Rose, O.P. (Summit) 

Ways of Imperfection - Tugwell, O.P 125 

Sr. Maria Rose, O.P. (Summit) 


A Glance at the Charism of Headship 127 

Sr. Mary Rose, O.P. (West Springfield) 

Holy Scripture ( in Our Life 128 

Sr. Mary of the Holy Spirit, O.P. (Menlo Park) 

The Eucharist Outside the Mass 129 

Sr. Mary Joseph, O.P. (Los Angeles) 



The author o^ the Book ofa Proverbs exhorts us to that izarch ^or wisdom 

which is -bach, a prominent monastic attitude as he tells us : 

"la you seek her £^foe bilver 

and like hidden treasure search her out: 
Then will you understand the {^eaA o{ the Laid: 

the. knowledge of> God you will falnd" [Paov. 2:4-5). 

Ai Nuns ol the QrdeA ol Preachers we are dedicated in a particular way 
to that search ^or wisdom, a wisdom gained through Study, especially cfa the 
Word o{, God, and the prayer and discipline o^ lifie winch falow out Oq it. We 
ale also coiled to share that wisdom with one another in simplicity . 

A glance through the o^erlngs in this, issue ofa Vh\S brings the above 
thoughts spontaneously to maid. These contributions represent that life- 
long inner seaAch &0A wisdom, and also the joy o& sharing the insights 
received. The themes oac so varied that at fciASt they seemed to de^y any 
oAdeA, but slowly the lines ^eli into place. 

The ftiASt three articles center on the thought o{. Saint Augustine: Ins 
Rule as expression ofa his spirituality, the principal tenet o£ the Rule as 
love oj God and neighbor, and the Augustinian themes in oua Basic Constitution. 
The next deal with basic observances In Dominican monastic li^e: fairs t, 
a comparative study o{, the observances In general as they oac pAesented In the 
7 937 Constitutions in contrast to their pAescntation in the 7 977 Constitutions; 
then, a hlstoAlcal overview ofa the place ofa study In the lifae ofa the nuns, fol- 
lowed by an examination ofa the role ofa solitude in Dominican Lifae. Afater tills, 
some chaAacteAlstlcs ofa Dominican spiAlXuaLvtij oac considered: trutli as it is 
understood in the light ofa Scripture.; the commu\iitarian and apostolic aspects o£ 
the Dominican way; and the challenge ofa our call to contemplative Lifae in all 
iXs purity. At tills point we take a look at the Lifae ofa a modern Dominican 
Nun faAom a geographical locality gAowlng In pAomlnencc: Curupira ofa Brazil and 
at a AccoAd ofa heA aosoalj spirltjuallty . 

Afater these Acfalcctlons on Dominican Lifae pAesented by the nuns themselves, 
we Insert two papers describing the thouglit ofa our bAetliren on our tifie: a 
homily on the occasion o& the blessing o\ our Washington Monastery with a chal- 
lenge to bring to Lifae the Dominican ideal in that locaLLty; followed by a de- 
tailed AepoAt on a woAkshop on 'Dominican contemplative Lifae given by our well 
known his to Alan, Father H.M. Vicaire to the Belgian monasteries. We are grate- 
faul to Sister Wyrlam ofa lelem faoA preparing tltis report faor us. 

T-Aom here we turn our attention to more varied perspectives. There is an 
article on Saint Joseph as patron ofa contemplative Lifae and ofi our Eastern Prov- 
ince. Then we "Listen in" to a Cliapter talk on the contemplative aspects o{ 
the liturgy, followed by two other recorded exhortations : one faAom Olmedo &0A 
the relatively recent occasion ofa the reception oft a Nun to the habit; the 
other, mucii farther back in time, faoA the occasion ofa the admittance ofa a 
brother tjo Egyptian monastic Hie. Two concluding oAtlcles pAcsent oilier des- 
criptions OjJ monastic prayer and living: fairs t, a penetrating study oi the. 
newly beatified Elizabeth o{ the Trinity as she exemplified the Carmelile spir- 
ituality described by St. Teresa in the Interior Castle ; and finally, a trans- 
lation iAom the French ofa an old article wilh a stAikingly modern thrust con- 
cerning reading and prayer In monastic Lifae. 


Wlbdom' 6 ba.nqu.2X. fiaAe u> nJLoh, indttd. We eat bat axe neveA i>atijate.d 
bzcau&z the knowledge ofi God aj> the. contemplative^ eveA expanding de&iAe. and 
goal, fox ui> ah ChAtbtLaiu and Vomlntcanh that wisdom Zb containe.d pximaAtly 
in titt Wosid ofi God peAAonlfiie.d in Jeia6 Ckntbt. We axe. eveA Atntvlng to be 
among thoi>e who "allow the i>2.e,d which ti> the. won.d ofi God to gtiow tn [ui>] by 
the powex ofi the. Holy SpiAtt; and coUbaboKjxtwig with it, aAe. n.enewe.d inteAtonZy 
and mono, and mone. confionmed to ClvuAt" (Const. #108). We tAni>t tiiat thti> Wold 
will contume. to gxow within ofi ui> not only by pondeAing it in qua. own 
henAti but by i>haAing that fimiit^al pondeAing with one anotkeA by the written 
wond in fiutuAe. l66ueA ofi VMS. TliiA li> one o& tlie wayi, in which God, who hai> 
bejgun a good wonk, wilt b\Zng it to peAficction. 

SlbteA WaAy Catherine, O.P. 

as Lovers of <m Ecautu of ^& spiritual life 
ani Srcoimrw form dm sweet okor of Canst 

in tfiu holiness of vour \<fci/s, 
IJou cnau fkimfalUj observe <truse <mirLQ5j 
not like staves ura^er *tae boaoaoe of m taw 
But liu cailirea 
fret in <t(u U&crtu 
of divine orace." 

RuU of St Aixau^ti'na 



Sister Maria Rose, O.P Monastery 


The practice of writing during lectio divina has been part of the prayer 
tradition of the Church. Writing a lectio journal is one -way of ruminating or 
"chewing the cud" by going . ack to the text that one has jotted down. For the 
early monks and nuns, to internalize is to verbalize. They gleaned the fruits 
of their holy reading in a mosaic of scriptural quotations and doctrinal excerpts 
called florilegia or "culled flowers". 

The florilegia is a literary genre that originated in the Greek and Latin 
classical schools. These are collections cf doctrinal gems for the purpose of 
quaestio and disputatio . The compilers used these materials for study and research. 
Later on, the florilegia flourished in the monastic school of lectio divina. The 
ancient monks adopted it a£ a creative growth tool for wholeness and depth in their 
prayer life. This type of journaling harmonized with the silence and solitude of 
cloistered life. 

These collections are called sententiae, extracts, excerpts or scarapsus . 
Peter Lombard's famous sentences are an example of this. Poetic titles are also 
used: "Flores", "Book of Sparklets *', "Floral Bouquet ", "Deflorationes" and others. 
The lectio journal bears this flower symbolism, a medieval metaphor for bees 
sipping honey from flower to flower . 

In this article, we are going to concern ourselves with journaling within the 
context of listening to the word being addressed to us in the Letter 211 of Saint 
Augustine. The eight florilegia correspond to the eight principal precepts in that 
letter . The key sentences are underlined, and interwoven with these are verbal 
citations from Scripture as well as allusions and extracts from Saint Augustine's 
numerous works. This approach aims to arouse interest, and perhaps, point out to 
others a field of Augustinian studies that would yield fruit in prayer . 

Letter 211, the best known and most controversial of Saint Augustine 's letters, 
has been commonly called the "Rule". This letter is addressed to a convent of 
women who had set up a strife against their Superior, Mother Felicitas, who had 
succeeded Saint Augustine's sister upon the latter 's death. There is a broad hint 
in the beginning of this letter that the source of the conflict was a new chaplain, 
Brother Rusticus . The English title given to this letter is "Letter of Aurelius 
Augustine to the consecrated virgins", dated U23 . There is no title of address 
in the text . 

Technically, Letter 211 is not a religious rule. It is possible that there 
was already an existing Rule before this letter was written. However, Letter 211 
is always referred tp as the "Regula Sorcrum" written by Saint Augustine, Bishop 
of Hippo. 

The florilegia is an attempt to show the general spirit and character of the 
Rule. The spirituality of Saint Augustine Is based on the revealed word of God. 
His thought and language are shot through with scriptural citations and allusions, 
which shows his intimate knowledge of the Bible, as well as the influence of 
Egyptian monasticism. In the realm of theology, Saint Augustine drew on Neoplatonic 
philosophy in order to explain the gradual movement of man from the material to the 
spiritual, and from the temporal to the eternal. 


Letter 211 is remarkable for its beauty, simplicity and adaptability. It is, 
in fact, the core and inter iorizat ion of lav, -whereby the ascesis of monastic life 
is presented by Augustine as a victory over self-seeking for the upbuilding of 
Christian community. The letter has heart -expanding dimension; it is a protest 
against pride, greed and power (Acts 2:kk-k5; U-.32-35)- Direction is given between 
I and We, and between person and community. For Augustine, the primary motive 
of community is fidelity to God's word, once a person freely chooses to live the 
reality of commitment (Chapters 1 and 8) . One commits oneself to the Word by 
yielding to another or to others a claim on oneself (Chapters 5 and 7). Pride is 
deeply entrenched at the centre of our rational nature. Pride survives even when 
all other vices have been cornered. Renunciation of goods is rooted in dispossession 
of self and in humility (Chapters 1 and 7). In Chapter 5> the image of the members 
of one Body comes up to illustrate the duty of mutual help (Ephesians 22:2). 
Active service, for Augustine, builds up the earthly city; it must also nourish 
love. The most generous and gifted person is not the one who performs the greatest 
number of tasks, but rather the one who gives the most of herself to others 
(Mark 12:hl-kk) . For Augustine, prayer cannot be separated from community, 
charity, asceticism and justice (Peter 3: 6-7; Matthew 17:21). 

Saint Augustine was an original thinker and lover. His letter 211 and his 
other writings - Confession, sermons, treatises - show his sensus catolicus, 
that is to say, the essentials of our faith. He united heart and mind in his 
endless search for God. 

FLORILBGIUM 1 The Basic Ideal: Acts U:31-35 

The main purpose for your having come together is to live harmoniously in 
your house, intent upon God, in oneness of mind and heart . 

How good and pleasant it is when sisters live in unity; through the fire of 
love they are of one mind and one heart on the way to God (l) . Those who live in 
unity in such a way that they form but one Person are rightly called "mono6" - 
one single person. They fulfill in their lives what is written, "of one mind and 
one heart", that is, many bodies but not many minds, many bodies but not many 
hearts (2). Many upright people have only one heart, while a single deceitful 
person has a double heart (3) . Love then, must Join you together, so that you may 
follow the One in unity, and not fall back into multiplicity and be divided among 
many things (U) . 

How we wish to arrange our life, and how with God's help we are already doing 
so, is known tc many of you from Sacred Scripture. None the less, in order to 
refresh your memory, listen and meditate on these words: "There was no one who 
called any of his possessions his own property. On the contrary, they owned 
everything in common". A nun no longer seeks her own interests, but she serves 
the interests of Jesus Christ. She now lives in the community of those who are 
of one mind and one heart on the way to God, such that no one can still speak of 
her own possessions t % but all own goods in common (5). For if a person love6 the 
whole, then everyone who possesses anything has something for herself. Take envy 
away, and what I have is yours; take envy away and what you have is mine. Possess 
God and you possess the All (6) . I would wish that you place yourself with all 
your love under Christ, and that you follow no other way in order to reach and to 
attain the truth than that which has already been paved by Him who, as God. knows 
the weakness of our steps. This way is, in the first place, humility; in the 
second place, humility; in the third place, humility (7). 


Let all of ycu, then, live together in oneness of Kind and heart, mutually 
honoring God in yourselves, whose temples you have be c one . For you are his 
temple, collectively, and as individuals . God wishes to dwell in the union of 
all and in each person {?) . 

FLORILEGIUM 2 Prayer and Community 

Be assiduous in prayer at the hours and times appointed . With gratitude in 
your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; be persevering in 
your prayers and be thankful as you stay awake to pray (Colossians 3 : l6; ^l2). 

At certain times, we call our spirit back to prayer from the other cares and 
activities, which, in some way cloud our yearning for God. . Longing is always at 
the root of prayer, even though the tongue is silent (l) . At particular hours, 
we pray to God with words that through these verbal signs of divine reality, we 
may impel ourselves to greater effort, help ourselves become aware of how much 
progress we have made in this desire and rouse ourselves to grow in it with 
greater vitality (2). Therefore, your conversation with God should focus on what 
you bear in your hearts, on the attention of your spirit, on a pure love and 
honest yearning. It is with words that Our Lord has taught us these essential 
things (3) . To pray for a longer time is not the same as to pray by multiplying 
words . Lengthy talk is one thing; a prayerful disposition which lasts a long 
time is another. Did not Our Lord give us an example of this? In time He prays 
when it is appropriate; and in eternity, He hears our prayers with the Father (k) , 

When the Apostle says, "pray without ceasing", he means this: desire un- 
ceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if eternal, and ask of Him 
who alone is able to give us this life (5) . The desire of your heart is itself 
your prayer. The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of 
your prayer. And that voice of your prayer will be silent only when your love 
ceases. The chilling of the heart means that the heart is silent, while the 
burning love is the outcry of the heart that is constantly fixed on God (6) . 

When you pray to God, therefore, let the words spoken by your lips be alive 
in your hearts. Live what you pray. Sing to the Lord a new song. His praise 
is in the assembly of His chosen ones. It is in the singers themselves. If you 
desire, then, to praise Him, then live what you sing. Live good lives and you 
yourselves will be His praise (7) . 

FLORILEGIUM 3 Mutual Health Care 

Subdue the fle%h, so far as your health permits, by fasting and abstinence 
from food and drink . While we are on a journey in this mortal life, we are being 
weighed down by the demands of an earthly existence . The body has its revolts 
which are manifest and are oftentimes dangerous to the spirit, for the flesh is 
still corruptible (Galatians 5:17); it has not yet had its resurrection (l) . 

The mind tendc upwards: it is caught up by love, but it is slowed down by 
weight (Wisdom 9:1^). We lighten our load or cast off the ballast of this 
earthly baggage when we fast (2) . 

However, do not think that the flesh is at odds with the spirit as if there 
were one creator of the flesh and another of the spirit. It is true that 
"the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh" (I Cor. 15*53)* 
and it is also true, and eve., more important to say that "no one ever hates his 
own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as also Christ does the Church" 
(I Galatians 5*17) • Both views are in harmony (3). 

Remember also: there ic no value in fasting unless one gives to the poor what 
is thereby saved (4) . For, whoa: do you seek to please by your fasting? Will your 
fast be approved by God wher. you do not recognize your neighbor? I do not ask 
fron what food you abstain, but what food you choose. Do you hunger and thirst 
for justice (5)? 

Let not your souths alone take nourishment but let your hearts, too, hunger 
for the Word of God . Therefore, since there is an earthly food on which the weak- 
ness of the flesh feeds, there is also a heavenly food by which the devotion of 
the mind is nourished. The earthly food belongs to the physical life; the 
heavenly food, to the life of the Spirit (6) . 

Each of you must do what she can. If one person is not capable of as much 
as another, then she can still attain it in the other who is more able. You have 
to render an account to God alone. The thing that you owe to one another 
is mutual and abiding love (7) . 

To leave the world behind: this means to renounce what you have and what 
you desire to have. Greater possessions do not slake people's thirst but 
increase it . Such people despise a cup of water because they want to have a 
whole stream. Therefore, consider as rich the person who is least consumed by 
desire for material goods {£) . 

FLORILSGIUM k Mutual Responsibility in Good and Evil 

You should not seek to please by your apparel but by a good life ^ Seek no 
advantage for yourselves when you aim to please men. We want to take our joy 
in men, and we rejoice when they take pleasure in what is good, not because this 
exalts us, but because it benefits them (l) . 

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another . From 'the entire 
human race throughout the world, this love gathers together into one body a new 
people, to be the bride of God's only Son. She is the bride of whom it is asked 
in the Song of Songs: "Who is this who comes clothed in white?" White indeed 
are her garments, for she had been made new (2) . 

Let all your actions conform to your holy state of life . God is almighty and 
all-seeing; His eyes are on those who fear Him; every human action is known to 
Him (Sirach 15:18-19). Can He who made the ear not hear? Can He who formed the 
eye not see? (Psalm 94:9) 


By mutual vicilance ever one another will God who dwells in you, grant you 
His protection (2 Corinthians 6:16). Admonish one another bo that the begin: .-" .g 
of evil will not grow mere serious but will be promptly corrected . 

Do you scorn your Sister's wound? You see her heading for destruction, and 
you do nothing? Because you remain silent, you are worse than she is when she 
reproaches you (3). 

You are not tc administer correct! or. until you have removed from your eye 
the beam of envy or malice or pretense, so that you may have clear vision to 
cast out the spec 1 /, from the eye- of your Sister . For then, you shall see that 
speck with the eye of the dove, the kind of eyes that are commended in the Spouse 
of Christ — pure and without guile (h) . 

When you take disciplinary measures, gentleness ought not to fade from your 
heart. Indeed, who is more loving than s physician with a surgical knife in 
hand? Of course, the pereor. who has tc undergo the operation weeps. The doctor 
is harsh on the wound, but only in order to heal the person. For, if you are 
too gentle on the wound, the person would perish (5). 

By punishing the guilty one patiently, you give her a chance to repent 
(Wisdom 12:10). The punishment must be commensurate to the person's spiritual 
strength. How many people have become better because of correction and how ma:iy 
have turned out worse on its account? And what is one to do in this case: if you 
punish a certain person, zhc is lost; if you allow her wrongdoing to go unchecked, 
another person is corrupted by it? What darkness (6)!' Or are you abusing God's 
infinite goodness, patience and generosity, not realizing that this goodness is 
meant to lead the sinner to repentance (Romans 2:k)7 It is exceptional and good 
to love the sinner and, at the same time, disapprove the sin. And the more 
justified you are in hating the sin, the greater the love you have for the 
human nature deformed by it . The person who loves in this way persecutes 
wickedness, but his true motive is to free the person from the bondage 
of sin (7). 

For God created the human being; love, therefore, the person created by 
God, not the faults that belong to the person. Even though you are sometimes 
obliged to take harsh action, do it out of love for the good of the other (8) . 

God is the ultimate judge. For though no one knows a man's innermost self 
except man's own spirit within him, yet there is something in a man which even 
hi6 own spirit does not know. But God knows all of him, for He has made man. 
Make no effort, then, to conceal your wound from the Physician; all of us are 
in need of His mercy (9). 

For, it is truly God who forgives all your guilt, who heals eyery one of 
your ills; He crown3 you with love and compassion (Psalm 103:3, 5). 


FLORILEGIUM 5 Active Icve ir. Service of One Another 

In loving your Sister and caring for her, you are on a journey. Where are 
you travelling if not to the Lord God, to Him -whom you should love with your 
whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind? You have not yet reached His 
presence, but you have your own Sister at your side. Support, then, this 
companion of your pilgrimage if you want to come into the presence of the one 
with whom you desire to remain forever (l) . 

It is not love's air:, to serve only its own interests. Love is not self- 
seeking (I Corinthians 13 :>) • Love each other as much as Sisters should, and 
have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort 
and with great earnestness of rpirit. In the temporal necessities of life, 
something sublime and permanent reveals itself, namely, love (i Corinthians 13:31) 

No one, therefore, will seek her own advantage in her work . Everything you 
do is for the service of the community, and you are to work with more zeal and 
enthusiasm than if each person were merely working for herself and her own 
interests . Love puts the interests of the community before personal advantage 
and not the other way round. The way of love is exalted above all other ways. 

What a nun earns through her work, she should be willing to own in common 
with her Sisters . If she lacks anything, she must be prepared to be supplied 
with it from community property, following the words of the Apostle, whose 
precept and example she fellows : "we must be as people who possess nothing, 
and yet, have everything "(2) . 

One must love and esteem in the other the gifts and skills which she herself 
does not possess. Thus, the person with fewer capabilities ought not to impede 
the person with more; neither should those who are more gifted put pressure on 
others who are capable of less (3) . 

Therefore, the degree to which you are concerned for the interests of the 
community rather than for your own, is the criterion by which you can judge how 
much progress you have made in love . 

FLORILEGIUM 6 Love, Conflict and Reconciliation 

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer (I John 3*15)« Love is our life 
If love is life, then hatred is death. When someone fears hating a person whom 
she loves, she, in fact, fears death; and this death is more merciless and more 
radical than the death of the body, for in this death, the soul itself is killed. 
Your Lord ha6 give% you assurance with the words : Do not fear those who kill the 
body. By their brutal cruelty such people kill a body; but by harbouring hatred 
you kill a soul. You have first killed your soul and then your Sister's (l) . 


Sisters who have insulted each other should forgive each other's trespasses 
(Matthew 6:12); if you fail to do this, your praying the Our Father is a lie. 
When the Lord says "you must forgive your brother from the heart", He did not 
add the words "from the heart" for nothing. Let us then daily and with a true 
heart pray the Our Father. And moreover, let us xj_ve our prayer. You enter 
into a covenant with Sod. The Lord your Cod says to you: "forgive, then I 
forgive you. If you do not fcrgive, then you, not I, uphold your guilt against 
yourself (2) . 

Perhaps you have offender, someone and now wish to be reconciled. You wish 
to say: "Sister, forgive me for I have sir.r.ed against you". But, she has no 
wish to hear of forgiveness or to remit your debt. She should, however, be 
careful when she prays. If your conscience troubles you, then pray "Forgive us 
our trespasses"; but remember, the prayer does not end there. You do not want 
to forgive your Sister, and still have tc say "as we forgive those who trespass 
against us". Or would you prefer not to utter these words? If you do not say 
them, however, you dc not receive anything either. Or if you say them just for 
the sake of saying them, you are lying. Do say them then, but speak the truth 
and live lovingly for the other (3) . 

Be cautious of harsh words . Should you utter them, then do not be afraid 
to speak the healing word with the same mouth that caused the wound . 

If you wish to receive mercy, be merciful before He comes; forgive one 
another and give of your abundance . Of whose mercy do you give if not from His? 
If you were to give from your own, it would be largess; but since you give of His, 
it is retribution. For what have you that you have not received? These are 
the sacrifices most pleasing tc God: mercy, humility, praise, peace, charity (U) . 

Authentic self-love consists in loving one's neighbor. People must learn 
to love themselves by not loving themselves (5) • 

Blessed is the person that loves you, God, and his friend in you, and his 
enemy for you. That person alone loses no one who is dear, if all are dear in 
God, for God is never lost (6) . 

FLORILEGIUM 7 Compassionate Love in Authority and Obedience 

Obey you Superior as a mother . She is the one who watches over you, knowing 
that she has to render an account of you; make this a joy for her to do and not 
a source of grief. Otherwise you yourselves will be the losers (Hebrews 13:17). 

Help her both by your prayers and by your obedience, for then, it will be a 
pleasure for her, not to preside over you, but to serve you (l) . 

By your loving ^obedience, therefore, you not only show compassion to your - 
selves, but also to your Superior . By pleasing God through your obedience, you 
show compassion to yourselves; seek distraction from your cares, console your 
heart, chase sorrow away; for sorrow has been the ruin of many (Sirach 30:24). 


Your Superior should not think herself fortunate in having power to lord it 
over you; the first among you must be the least and the person who leads must 
serve the most (Luke 22:25-26). For the Sen of roan did not come to be served 
but to serve (Mark 10:^5). Let her show herself an example of good works among 
you that the Word of God will not fall into disrepute (Titus 2:7). 

She is to advise those who neglect their duties, give courage to those who 
are disheartened, support the weak and be patient with all (I Thessalonians 5: 4). 
If there is virtue in one who obeys, there are also some for her who commands to 
observe: humility, patience, wisdom, prudence, discretion, charity and equity 
(2 Timothy k:2) . 

And let her strive to be loved by you rather than to be feared, although 
both love and respect are necessary . For it is not the person of the Superior 
who ha6 to be feared but the Word of God in her . Let her glory in God alone 
and if she is loved by you, let it be in the Lord and for the sake of the Lord (2) . 
Your Superior is in the flesh. In nerself, she is, when you think of it, simply 
a human being. But it is true, that you make her something more by giving her 
honor and respect; it is as if ycu are covering what is weak and lacking in her (3) . 

Always esteem her more highly than yourself; this holds true even in your rela- 
tions .among yourselves. Because you make her your Superior through free choice and 
commitment, God makes her the least of all, since she has been charged with the 
care of all (Fhilippians 2:3). And you roust remember that even though she appears 
to address you from a higher place, yet in fear before God, she lies at your 
feet because of the great responsibility that her office requires of her (k) . 
The roost severe judgment will be set aside for those in high places (Wisdom 6:6). 
If much has been given to you, much will be demanded of you; more will be 
expected of one to whom more has been entrusted (Luke 12:US). 

To love God, to live in goodness from the love which God has given us : 
this is the first act of charity which we can perform for ourselves. Authority 
and obedience go hand in hand in the context of mutual love (5). 

You have been called to freedom. Do not, however, abuse it as a pretext 
for self-seeking. Serve one another through love. If you are led by the Spirit, 
you are not under the law. The signs of the Spirit's presence are love, joy, 
patience, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity. 

FLORILEGIUM 8 Love is the Fulfillment of the Law 

Observe the precepts in a spirit of charity and as lovers of spiritual beauty , 
The desire for spiritual beauty or the spirit of loving obedience is linked to 
the joy of contemplation. From divine beauty you go to Christ who surpasses 
everyone in beauty, but who, for your sake became a man of sorrows, without looks 
or beauty to attract the eyes. Likewise, you shall come to possess beauty by 
loving Him who always remains faithful. According as love grows in you, beauty 
grows too. For leve is the beauty of the soul (l). 


Li ve in such a way that you spread abroad the life -giving aroma of Christ 
(2 Corinthians 2:1?). If there is anyo..e among you who wishes to be known for 
her wisdom and learning, she must prove such a claim by the excellence of her 
life (James 3=13) • 

Do not be weighed down like slaves straining under the law, but live as free 
persons under grace; for, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 
Love is the fulfillment of the law. Bear one another's burdens, and thus you will 
fulfill the lav of Christ (Romans 6:lU-22); for you are no longer under the lav,' 
which, while it commands the good, is to give it. On the contrary, you 
are under grace, which, in making you love vhat the lav commands, can reign over 
you as free people (2). Love, holiness and freedom are the marks of Christian 
love in religious community life and in the person's quest for God (3). 

Whoever listens to the word but does not obey it is like a mar. who looks 
at his own face in a mirror, and then, after a quick look, gees off and immediately 
forgets what he looked like. But vhoever considers himself in the light of the 
perfect law of freedom, and n.akes that his habit - not listening £nd then forget- 
ting, but actually putting it into practice - vill be blessed for what he does 
(James 1:23-25). 

Even your merits are God's gift. The good in you ought to be a cause for 
gratefulness (U) . For those who love God, He works all things for good. And 
this "all" takes in so much that, even if a person deviates from and leaves the 
right path, she is enabled to make progress in good, for she returns more humble 
and more experienced. Let her prayer be: Forgive me my trespasses and lead me 
not into temptation (5). 

Offer, then, your thanksgiving to the Lord your God, from whom every best 
and perfect gift comes, for He gives to those of good will both the desire and 
the fulfillment of things that belong to Him (6) . Address Him thus : Behold, 
Lord, I cast upon You my concern that I may live, and I shall meditate on the 
wonders of Your lav; though poor, I want to be filled with it in the company of 
those who eat and are filled; and they who seek the Lord shall praise Him (7) . 


This Augustinian florilegia is not an attempt to fix the lines for historical 
and spiritual exegises of the Rule. This lectio journal is one form of listening 
to the word being addressed to us through biblical and monastic writers . 

We have used Saint Augustine's Letter 211, the first written account of 
rules for female monastics . The legislator had established a monastery for 
women after his return from Italy to North Africa and had appointed his Bister 
as Superior. The next Superior had problems with her subjects, and thus, 
Letter 211 was written. 

The "gleanings" have been laid out according to thtir contextual message and 
affinity of themes. Through extracts from Saint Augustine's letters, treatises, 
sermons and his confession, ■ we can draw deeper meaning from his 
Rule. We have followed the consistent rhythm of his "anima una et cor unum in 


To this lectio journal can be added our personal reflections and responses. 
This would vary according to one's disposition, needs and background. The 
response may take the form cf a letter, a dialogue, a prayer -poem or an art 
symbol. If our response is brought in willing obedience to the truth, then the 
word can penetrate our heart until we open up to the freedom of God. Our 
response would flcv from who we are and into what we can become. 

The Scriptures and the Fathers provide food for soul and light for life. 
A word or verse calls for reflection, lights up the heart, clears up a doubt, 
demands a renunciation or promises hope of moving closer to God. In order to 
preserve this graced moment, the reader can write down the inspired and inspiring 
word. At some tirr.e in the future, she might go back to this source of life for 
her spiritual strength and that of others. The florilegia are verbal witnesses 
to our monastic search for God. 




(1) Against Faustus 5, 9; cf. Psalm 133:1 

(2) Sermon on Psalm 132, 6 

3) Sermon 11, 7; cf. I Corinthians 12:12 

h) Sermon 284, k 

(5) Sermon 356; cf. Acts 4:32-35; 2:44-45; Luke 14:26, 33; Matthew l6:24; 
Also: Treatise on Manual Labour of Monks 32, 8 

(6) Sermon on St. John's Gospel 32, 8 

(7) Letter 118, 3, 22 

(8) The City of God 10, 3 


(1) Letter 130, 9, 18 

(2) Ibid 

(3) On the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, 2, 3, 13 
(U) Letter 130, 9, 18 

(5) Ibid; cf. Jeremiah 29:13; James 5 :L3-l8; Romans 1:10 

(6) On Psalm 38, 13-lU 

(7) Sermon 34; cf. Luke 1:46-56; I Peter 1:1-17; 2:22-24; Romans 11:33-36; 
16:25-26; I Timothy 6:15-l6; Revelation 1:6-7; 5:9-12; 11:17-18 


(1) Treatise on Farting 3, 3 

(2) Op. cit., 2; of. Cicero, De Senectute 18.66.1 

(3) Op. cit., 4 

(4) Sermon 209, 2 

(5) Treatise on Fasting 5, 2 

(6) Op. cit., 2 

(7) Letter 130, l6 . _ 

(8) Sermon 50, 4, 6; cf « ^ tter ^ ^ 39 




Sermon U7, 12 -lU 

Treatise or. the Gospel of John, 25, 2; cf. On Holy Virginity, 3k, 34 

Sermon 82, k, 7 

On the Lord's Sermon or? the Mount; cf. Matthev 7:5; Song of Songs 4:1 

Sermon 83, 7 , 8 

Letter 95, 3 

Letter 3 53, 1, 3 

Sermon on I John, 7, 11 

Confessions 10, 5, ^0 


(1) Treatise on the Gospel r.f John, 17, 7-9 

(2) On the Manual labour cf Monks 25, 32; cf. Corinthians 6:10 

(3) Letter 130, 31 


(1) Sermon on Psalm 5U, 7; cf. Matthev 10:28 

(2) Sermon 56, 9, 13 

(3) Sermon 211, 3, 3: cf. Matthew 18:35 
(k) Sermon on Psalm 95, 15 

(5) Sermon 96, 2, 2 

(6) Confessions k, 9 


(1) Sermon 3*+0, 2 

(2) Confessions 10, 36, 59 

(3) Sermon k6, 6 

(U) Sermon on Psalm 66, 10 
(5) The City of God, 21, 27, 2 


(1) On I John 9, 9 ; cf. Isaiah 53:2-3; Sirach kk:6 

(2) On Continence 3, 8 

(3) The Way of Life of the Catholic Church 1, 33, 70 
(U) Sermon 298, 5, 5 

(5) On Rebuke and Grace 9, 2U; cf. Matthew 6:12-13 

(6) Confessions 10, 4 3 

(7) Op. cit., 6e-yo 



The Liturgy of the Hours, Volumes I - IV. ICEL Translation . (New York: 

Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1975) 

Saint Augustine, Treatise on Various Subjects . (New York; Fathers of the 

Church, Inc., 1952) 

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume V. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 
1956) pp. Xiii-xiv, kl 

Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., St. Dominic and his Work . Translated by Sr . Mary 
Benedicts Larken, C .P . (St. Louis, Missouri, B. Herder 
Book Co., 19UI4) 
Note: Mandonnet has brought to light the genesis and authenticity 

of a more primitive Augustinian Rule, the Disciplina Monasterii 
(about 3^8) . A Commentary was added to the Disciplina by 
St. Augustine himself, end the two together formed one Rule. 
The Disciplina was suppressed in the 12th century; only the 
Commentary remained. Letter 211 is a Transcription of the 
Commentary. For further study, please see pp. 211-253. 

Jeau Leclercq, O.S.B., The Love of Learning and the Desire for God . (new York: 
Mentor Omega, 1962) pp. 1B5 ff. 

Jf *\ 71 W K A n 91 



Sr . Mary of Christ, Los Angeles 

"Our chief concern. the love of God, and after this to love our 
neighbor, for these are the two greatest commandment s .. .The first aim of 
community life is the ideal of unity in community - all our thoughts and 
desires united and centred on God."l 

This paper is intended to explore some of the meaning in this 
beginning of the Rule of St. Augustine. Unity in community flows 
naturally out of the commandments of love of God and neighbor and is 
theologically derived from it. 

Love forms the innermost dynamism of the human character. The 
integrity of a personality centers on the object of love. Self love 
spirals the personality inward on itself. "For in common with everybody 
else, every man loves what he thinks he is. "2 

Love forms a bond of identification . Clinging to created goods warps 
the personality: in the end it would mean that persons would find their 
meaning in things. 

"The divine essence itself is charity even as it is wisdom and 
goodness. Now we are said to be good with the goodness which is God. 
So, too, the charity by which we love our neighbour is a sharing in the 
di vi ne char i ty . "3 

It is the love of God which is to form in us this "spontaneous 
movement of the lover toward the beloved" 4 and D Y Jt we cling to God, 
Himself . 

Original sin is a lived reality. Woundedness makes it difficult to 
pursue the true good. Yet " is impossible that these two should be 
simultaneously true, namely that the Holy Spirit wills to move a person to 
make an act of love, and that such a person should lose charity by 
commi 1 1 ing sin. . . "5 

"Listen Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your 
mind and with all your strength" and "...You must love your neighbor as 
yourself . "6(Mark 12:30). 

We have chosen to pursue this love in the life of a monastic 
community. Monastic orders have tried to relive the life of the 
Jerusalem community who were "united, heart and soul; no one claimed for 
his use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in 
common." (Acts 4:32). The Acts of the Apostles is commonly considered 
the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Scripture commentators repeatedly 
underline this theme in the Acts. For example, G.W.H. Lampe , in PEAKE ' S 
COMMENTAR Y ON THE B IBLE . writes: "..The presence of the Spirit is 
expressed in two ways,: externally in the mission to Israel, internally in 
the unity of the brotherhood itself, where perfect harmony is given 
practical expression in the sharing of property."? 

Monastic life as such is an expression of the presence of the Spirit 
of God. It is a witness to the Church and to the world, a witness of the 
unending mutual self-giving of the Holy Trinity. It mirrors the oblation 
of Christ who loved us and sacrificed Himself for us (cf. Gal. 2:20). 

"Because we share in the mission of the apostles, we also follow their 
way of life as St. Dominic conceived it." 8 Tne fullness of perfect 
charity in the lives of the nuns is to bear fruit in the salvation of 


The charity of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit 
dwelling within us (Rom. 5 :10 ) . Accordingly, St. Thomas regards charity 
as an effect of the Holy Spirit, a virtue which enables us to share in 
the very charity of God. 

"According to Aristotle not all love has the character of 
friendship, but that only which goes with well wishing, 
namely when we love another as to will what is good for 
him" 9 
Since God shares His happiness with us it is possible to have a 
relationship of friendship with Him: friendship is based on this mutual 
sharing. This love unites us to God and He is its principal object. It 
is in Him that we love our neighbour. God's gift of love in us flows 
both into love of God and love of neighbor. 

"Now the light in which we must love our neighbour is God, 
for what we ought to love in him is that he be in God. Hence 
it is clear that it is specifically the same act which loves 
God and loves ne i ghbour . "10 

St. John writes that "This commandment we have from God that he who 
loves God should love his brother also." (Uohn 4:21). Once our 
affections are set in order the charity infused by the Holy Spirit will 
unite us not only to God, but to our neighbor as well: God's gift makes 
it possible easily and pleasantly to fulfill His law. 

St. Thomas lists the five characteristics of charity given by 
Ar i stot le : 

"First, every friend wishes his friend to be and to live; 

secondly, he desires good things for him: thirdly, he does 

good to him; fourthly, he takes pleasure in his company; 

fifthly, he is of one mind with him, rejoicing and grieving " 

over almost the same things. "H 

If charity is to will what is good for the other, how then must one 
will good for God, who is goodness Himself? Perhaps in this way: the 
greatest good for God is to be Himself, to do what He does, to will what 
He wills. One can do this by every act which assents to this goodness 
of God, by obeying His laws -since they stem from what He is-, by acts of 
virtue, of faith and of hope, by any other such thing which by its nature 
gives consent to the goodness of God and the order in which God has 
established all that is. To will this is to will what is good for God. 

We do not thereby add anything to Him, it is true. But now ordinary 
acts, things that might seem simply a matter of obligation, beliefs that 
seem true but not vibrant, all of these things now become bonds intimately 
uniting us to the love of God. There is no happiness outside of the order 
in which God established things, ultimately, because there is no true 
happiness outside of God Himself. 

From this it follows, that acts of love are intensified not 
necessarily by emotional fervor but by letting oneself be ever more 
completely enveloped 'in the embrace of God. What we are to love in our 
neighbors is that they be in God, that they be on the way to salvation. 
This is to desire good things for the neighbour. By the common life, by 
good example, by our sharing in the richness of the same God in the bond 
of a religious family, we do good to them. This will make us people who, 
having but one mind and one heart, find pleasure in each other's company. 
Loving God and after Him our neighbor will itself create this unity. 
"Wherever there is love, social bonds are strengthened, and wherever it 
is not found, they di s i ntegrate . . . "12 


Li f e in community involves practical choices based on the nature of 
the person and the nature of life shared with God. 

Our Holy Father discusses some aspects of the psychology of women in 
some spiritual exercises given to students in Poland which are compiled 
in THE-WAY T O CHRIST . It will be no suprise to anyone who has followed 
his catechesis that he draws upon the Scriptures for his descriptions. 

"The first thing which strikes us is that when they approached Christ, 
these women acquired a certain interior autonomy ..." 13 Since "women are 
more intuitive and feeling than men, and become involved in things in a 
more sensitive and complete manner ... they need a support (for example, in 
the Gospel we find them N by Christ's side'), a great maturity and 
interior independence ." 14 

It is necessary to make choices which enable others to live more fully 
this intimate relationship with Christ, - and since we are women our 
specifically feminine nature itself fosters such a relationship. One 
must respect the interior independence of others and offer mutual support 
allowing each to know deeply the love of all their sisters. "That human 
experience of love can help us fashion that "sharp dart of longing love' 
which will pierce the cloud and allow the warmth of God's love to come 
through to us. "15 CS. Lewis, in THE GREAT DIVORCE, would have us expect 

great differences between one holy person and another: 

"We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of 
a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will 
therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet in the 
cent re .. .Good , as it ripens, becomes continually more 
different not only from evil but from other good. "16 

But how does one grow in this life of holiness? Human perfection is 
very desirable, but it is not an adequate basis for sanctity. Father Von 
Balthasar remarks that: 

"They (the real saints) grow in stature, not round their 
own centre but round God, whose incomprehensible grace gives 
greater personal freedom to the creature wh'o frees himself 
to exist solely for God: a paradox that can only be solved 
as one begins to realize that God, in his se 1 f -sur rende r , is 
love, as jealous as he is unenvying, as exclusively desirous 
to gather us to himself as he is to distribute himself 
uni versal ly . " 1 7 

There are always some who do not seem to respond to love, and so 
especially as contemplatiyes , we are unable to take direct and effective 
action in the case of many. But "when we abandon our neighbor to God he 
continues to be supported by our love and the pain of being unable to 
help him accomplishes more than any self-confident action. "18 From this 
Father Von Balthasar concludes that the contemplative life is that which 
is spiritually most effective. 

And so we have come full circle. Charity comes from God and 
leads to Him, -and it is charity that creates unity in diversity. All 
necessary human goods are supplied; even weaknesses can eventually be 
healed by God. Human love leads others to divine Love and also mirrors tha 
Love. Not only is contemplation of God the 'bett'er part' ; it is fully 
satisfying i when it is embraced with one's entire being. 


1 RULE- OF -ST, AUGUSTI NE.H:- A M o^rn Render -fn-g . Seba s t i an Bullough, O.P., 


2 SUMMA THEQLOG I AE . St. Thomas Aquinas, Blackfriars and Mc Graw-Hill Book 

Company, Vol.34, trans. R.J. Batten, O.P., 2a2ae, 25 , 7 , reply ,p. 101 . 

3 SjajMA,2a2ae,23,2,reply ob j . 1 ,pp . 13 , 15. 

4 SEMMA,2a2ae,25,2,reply,pp.85,87. 

5 SHM&2&,2a2ae,24,2.reply,p.71. 

6 THE --JERUSALEM fllfll-E r- Reader' S EtJ it ion . General Editor Alexander Jones, 

Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY. All Scripture quotations 
are from this edition. 

7 Ed. Black & Rouley, Nelson, Hong Kong, 1962, p. 892. 

Constitutions, SIV, p. 5. 

9 Si2dMA,2a2a2.23, 1, reply, p. 7. 

10 Sjafl^,2a,2ae.25, 1, reply, p. 83. 

11 SI2dM,2a,2ae.25,7,reply,p.l03. 

12 THE WAY -TO -CHRIST-. Spiritual Exercises. Karol Wo j t y 1 a , t rans . L.Wearne , 
Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1984, p. 98. 

13 Ibid., p. 33. 

14 Ibid., p. 35. 

15 TO g£ A f ItGRJMr A -§Ptrit^ariiotet>OQk, Cardinal Basil Hume,O.S.B, 
Harper <3c Row, San Francisco, 1984, p. 52. 

16 THE -GREAT- DIVOROE . C.S. Lewis, The Macmillan Co., New York, 1971, 
11th printing, pp. 5-6. 

17 LOVE ALONE . Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Herder & Herder, N.Y., 1963, 
p. 98. 

18 Ibid., p. 194. 



Sr. Mary of the Precious Blood, O. P. 
Buffalo, New York 

In the monastic tradition we have inherited through St. Augustine, expression 
is given to certain insights considered basic to the fullest realization of Christian 
perfection. The primary source in which we find these insights is, of course, the Rule 
Augustine authored. However, these same insights are offered in many other works by 
the saint, even in works which antecede the Rule. Two of Augustine's central points — 
the recognition of Christ, living and present in the monastic community, and the attain- 
ment of the vision of God through purity of heart - are developed in the Basic Constitution 
of the Nuns. In these first paragraphs of our Constitutions, our sisters are directed in 
their search for God to proceed through and in the Word, submitting in faith and purity of 
soul to this truth, for the ultimate attainment through grace, of union with God in Christ. 

Locating our vocation within St. Dominic's original inspiration in 1S1, our 
Constitutions encourage us in the following lines to embrace God and our neighbor in one 
single charity, regarding ourselves first and foremost as true members of Christ. In two 
of St. Augustine's works, The Happy Life, and his Commentary on Psalm 41, emphasis is 
placed on the theme of Christ presiding as our Head, and we, the faithful, constituting 
His members. In the first work mentioned, Augustine resolves a discussion on wisdom 
by concluding: 

This is the happv life : to recognize piously and 
completely the One through Whom you are led to 
the truth, the nature of the truth you enjoy, and 
the bond that connects you with the supreme 

Of special importance in this quotation is the first line : to recognize piously and com- 
pletely the One through Whom you are led to the truth. We are reminded of the exhorta- 
tion to honor God in each other, God, Whose temples we are, establishing the ecclesial 
and monastic communities as the visible expression of our mystical incorporation with 
Christ through His incarnation. 

Augustine's vision of our incorporation with the Word opens out to eternity, 
nourishing within us the aspiration to seek more earnestly the "glory of the Lord revealed 
in His Face" (2 Cor 3* 18V In an excerpt from the saint's Commentary on Psalm 41, 
the mystical union which Christ's members form with each other is presented as a para- 
digm, a model of the ideal unity in which is revealed an inchoate perception of the life 
we hope to attain in heaven. 

"1 have poured out my soul above myself," and 
there remains nothing more to lay hold of other 
than my God. Indeed, it is there, it is above my 
soul that the house of God is. There He dwells, 
thence He arouses me, thence He calls me, thence 
He directs me, thence He guides me .... For He 


who possesses, beyond the highest heavens, an in- 
visible mansion, has also a tent on the earth. His 
tent is His Church. . . .It is here we must seek Him, 
because in the tent we shall find the way that leads 
to the house (of God). I will enter into the place of 
the tabernacle, the wonderful tabernacle, even to 
the house of God. . . . The tabernacle of God on earth 
is made up of His faithful. 2 

While we must regard ourselves first and foremost as members of Christ, 
we are urged to reflect on the means by which we are to submit to the Word in Whose 
life we participate. The search for God in purity or singleness of heart, leads us to sub- 
mit to the Word we recognize in our midst, doing so through the discipline of community 
life and the celebration of the liturgy. Onlv when we are freed from the concerns which 
darken the soul's sensitivity to His presence car we be open to the Spirit of God animating 
our spirit. Using the gospel text from Matthew ^:8, St. Augustine treats of the necess- 
ity of detachment from all save God as an essential prerequisite for the divine vision. 

"No man hath seen God at any time. " God is an 
invisible reality. He is to be sought, not with the 
eye, but with the heart. If we would see the light 
of the sun, we must keep clear the bodily eye which 
is our means of beholding. So if we would see 
God, let us cleanse the eye with which God mav be 
seen. And the place of that eye we may learn from 
the gospel "Blessed are the pure of heart, for 
they shall see God". 

Echoing this thought, we read in our Basic Constitution 1SIII and IV that in 
"purity and humility of heart, they (the nuns) love Christ, Who is in the bosom of the 
Father. " Our sisters are exhorted to be "converted to the Lord, withdrawing from the 
solicitude and orientations of the world. " With single hearted devotion, the nuns are to 
"pray together daily, (offering) to God a sacrifice of praise, especially in the celebration 
of the liturgy. " The whole of our lives is to be focused upon Christ, for we are called 
upon by God's Word to become what that Word proclaims, by the grace which this Word 
provides. All the individuals of the monastic community are united through the celebra- 
tion of the liturgy, concentrating the dynamism of their spirits on the praise of our 
Redeemer. We are sealed in the covenant between God and mankind preeminently by our 
share in Christ's sacrifice, the Eucharist, the focal point of Jesus' redemptive action. 

The themes expressed by Augustine and presented to us in our Basic Constitutions, 
offer a pattern of interior development, intended to render our souls porous to God's grace. 
Christ, present in the monastic community, is made visible to our spirits through detach- 
ment. We return by these means to the grace of His Image within us. Striving to respond 
to our vocation, and made confident in our response by the example and help of our Blessed 
Mother and St. Dominic, we can understand St. Augustine's description of the happy life 


and apply it to ourselves : 

A certain admonition, flowing from the very fountain 
of truth, urges us to remember God, to seek Him 
and thirst after Him tirelessly. This hidden sun 
pours into our innermost eyes that beaming light. 
This light appears to be nothing other than God. 


1. St. Augustine, De Beata Vita, Ludwig Schopp, (trans. ), Gima Publishing Co. , 
(New York, 194S), p S3. 

2. Louis Bouyer, The Spirituality of the New Testament and of the Fathers, Desclee 
and Co., Inc. (New York, 1963), p 4'9, 480. 

3. Epistle of Tohn to the Parthians, VII, of Augustine : Later Works, ed. I. Burnaby, 
(Philadelphia 1955), p 317. 

4. Op. cit. , p 83. 


Intimate Encounter 

Moses asked: 

"May I see Your Face 
if indeed 

I have won Your grace?" 

"No, my friend, 

you would die in awe 
Die of love, 

if My Face you saw.. 

Stand you will 

in a rocky crack, 
When I pass 

you may see My back." 

Yahweh passed 

in His glory grand; 
Spoke His Name, 

then removed His hand . 

- Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart, 0.P 
West Springfield 



Sister Mary of the Annunciation ,O.P, 


It was recently suggested that our community might offer another comparative 
study of the 1930 and 1971 Constitutions similar to that which was done for an- 
other issue of DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH. This suggestion, together with our own 
recert workshop conducted by Father O'Donnell on Cassian and Dominican Spirituality , 
was the impetus for the writing of this paper. 1") 

My point of comparison is the basic and dynamically profound shift of em- 
phasis from regular observance (1930), to common life supported by observance 
(1971), as the primary means to holiness. To state that the shift is from 
"regular observance " to "common life supported by regular observance" may 
seem like playing with words, but the new emphasis (1971) has made a tremendous 
difference in interpretation and in practical application to our daily life. 

In the 1930 Constitutions the focus was almost exclusively on faith- 
fulness to the WRITTEN WITNESS. Our union with God and our relationship with 
one another in the context of community was not dealt with; whereas this is the 
main thrust in the 1971 Constitutions, which focus upon the personal obli- 
gation each of us has to seek God in and through the WITNESS OF LOVE AND RE- 
CONCILIATION that Christian community requires. 

Although both Constitutions stress obieAvance. as a means to interioriza- 
tion, yet the stress in the 1930 Constitutions upon perfect observance as the 
norm could, and sometimes did, obscure the fact that observance is a means and 
not an end. Perfect observance could then be equated with holiness of life. 
The manner of expression and points of emphasis of the 1931 Constitutions re- 
flect the thinking of a particular time in the history of the Church and a 
certain cultural orientation which is, it seems to me, not the same in our 
present culture. 

By steeping ourselves in our Dominican spirit and monastic tradition we 
should have a clear sense of where we have been and where we are going. The 
1971 Constitutions go back to the more primitive ideal of monasticism 
and at the same time clearly place us within our own Dominican spirituality. 
We are rediscovering the essence of our call and working to shape the future 
with courage, while hopefully, not fearing to express the essential elements 
of our life in new ways that will foster a more profound interiorization. The 
1971 Constitutions, precisely by this shift of emphasis, call us to deeper 
interiorization and personal responsibility for the quality of our life to- 
gether. Qua ha.ah.oh ^oa God taku, place. In the. school o^ commuyuXy Living. 
This truth has many practical applications of which we are becoming increas- 
ingly aware and alroady seeking to assimilate more completely. The present 
Constitutions encourage us to respond actively to the challenge of living in 
a more responsible manner our Dominican monastic life. 

Internalization means that we allow our life in community to touch the 
inner depth of our being in order to heal and transform us into the Christ- 


mystery. We are not undertaking the "search for God" in isolation. Our search 
for God is irrevocably linked to the community in which we live. Within the 
context of fidelity to common life we put on Christ and are molded into his 
likeness by the Spirit of the Lord. The growth and deepening of our life with 
God is bound up with the people with whom we live and is not just a set of ob- 
servances to be perfectly kept. 

In the following excerpts from the 1930 and 1971 Constitutions I have cho- 
sen those pertaining in some way to the theme of regular observance (1930) and 
common life safeguarded by regular observance (1971). Although we do not yet 
have the official text of the new Constitutions this comparison will still re- 
main valid because there have not been any really radical changes in the new 


The 1971 Constitutions speak of the "unanimity of our life", a unity 
which finds its source in our love for God. We are rooted in God's love and 
therefore called to be a community of reconciliation by our example, the very 
kind of community that our brothers and sisters preach by their proclamation 
of the Word. Here we have one of the many instances of interiorization that 
the 1971 Constitutions presents. Our unanimity is not the result of uniform- 
ity of observance but rather a living relationship with God. To be "rooted 
in God" is a powerful phrase. Our rootedness in God brings about reconcili- 
ation with our sisters as a true witness to the God-life in which we parti- 
cipate. The 1971 Constitutions tell us our unity finds its source in the 
Trinity and this oneness in God is meant to go beyond the limits of the Monas- 
tery to a communion with the Order and the whole church. Regular observance 
remains important in the 1971 Constitutions, but it is seen as the mzavu> by 
which we are faithful to our vocation and not the main 4ouacc of our unity as 
stated in the 1930 Constitutions. The placement of regular observance in the 
1971 Constitutions confirms this observation. The 1930 Constitutions begin 
with regular observance; the 1971 Constitutions speak of it in a separate chap- 
ter and place it later in the text. 

1930 Constitutions 

Since, by precept of the Rule the nuns 
are commanded to have one heart and one 
mind in the Lord, it is right that since 
they live under the same rule and under 
the same profession of vows, they should 
be uniform in the observance of the same 
Constitutions: for uniformity observed 
outwardly in our manners fosters and 
brings to mind that unity which ought to 
be preserved inwardly in our hearts. 
-Prologue #1 , p. 21 

...if the manner of life be made plain 
to all through the written witness; if 
no one is allowed to alter, add or take 
away anything by her own counsel; lest 

1971 Constitutions 

...The first reason for which we are 
gathered together is that we may 
dwell together in unity and have one 
mind and one heart in God. Reaching 
beyond the limits of the monastery, 
this unity achieves its fullness in 
communion with the Order and the 
whole Church of Christ. 

Pg.6,Sect.I,Chapt.l ,Art. I, SI 

The unanimity of our life, rooted in 
the love of God, should give an ex- 
ample to all of that reconciliation 
in Christ which our brethren also 
proclaim by word. 

Pg.6,Sect.I,Chapt 1 ,Art.I,SII 


1930 Constitutions 

by neglecting small things, they fall 
way little by little. 

-#2, pg.21 

To provide, then for the unity and 
peace of the Nuns of our Order, by 
command of the Apostolic See we set 
before them this book, which we call 
The Constitutions of the Nu ns of 
the Sacred Order of Pr eachers; and 
to its prescriptions we command 
that all religious, whether subjects 
or superiors conform their manner 
of life. 

#3, p. 22 

1971 Constitutions 

a- As in the Church of the Apostles, so a- 
mong us, communion is founded, built up 
and stablized in the same Spirit in whom 
we receive the Word of God the Father in 
one faith, contemplate Him with one 
heart, and praise Him with one mouth; in 
Whom we are made one body, sharing one 
bread; in Whom, finally, we hold all 
things in common. 

pg.6, Sect.I.Chapt I, Art. 1, #3, SI 

In order to remain steadfast in their 
vocation the nuns should have the high- 
est regard for regular observance, lov- 
in it in their heart and faithfully en- 
deavoring to carry it out. 

The 1930 Constitutions fix the source of our unity first of all in "this 
book, which we call the Constitutions" and to which, "all .. .whether subjects or 
superiors conform their manner of life." According to these Constitutions unity 
and peace come from the faithful observance of the book of Constitutions. In 
the past, deportment often became too much of a preoccupation. A conformity 
that is too rigidly maintained could produce the illusion of unity where 
in fact it does not exist. One of the greatest illusions the Fathers of 
the Desert waged war upon was the monk's tendency to appear good rather 
than really to be good. 

The common 
ment to live th 
way in which we 
tian life. The 
then the affili 
tians is stated 
1930 Constituti 
faithfulness to 
out any mention 
monastic commun 

life to which the 1971 Constitutions point is really the commit- 
e Christian life. Our monastic life expresses the particular 
have been called to dedicate ourselves totally to live the Chris- 
1971 Constitutions situate us first within our monastic family; 
at ion between our life in community and the larger body of Chris - 
,and this is reiterated frequently in the texts that follow. The 
ons do not contain this aspect, but rather stress the need of 
the vows, to times of community prayer and contemplation, with- 
of the effect our personal commitment to holiness has upon our 
ity or the Church and the world. 

The first Article of the 1930 "Constitutions and the first Article of Chap- 
ter 1 in the 1971 Constitutions cite the precept of the Rule of St. Augustine. 
When we turn to the Rule of St. Augustine we find the concept of community life 
put before us in a way similar to the thought of the 1971 Constitutions. The 
Rule begins with charity and states that our source of unity comes from "being 
one mind and one heart in the Lord." The first sentence of the Rule, which is 
so familiar to us, says "before all else.. we must love God and after him our 
neighbor; for these are the principle commands which have been given to us." 
Basically wehave here our Christian vocation. The 1971 Constitutions, like the 
Rule, put our life into the context of the communion we are meant to achieve 
through our unity with one another and with the Order and the Church. The 
1930 Constitutions do not relate our unity to charity, but rather to our con- 
formity through observance. With regard to the wider community outside the 


Monastery the 1930 Constitutions speak only in terms of caution, warning 
against the dangers of involvement. In the following constitutional texts 
one can easily see the radical shift in emphasis: 

1930 Constitutions 

1971 Constitutions 

Of one mind through obedience, asso- 
ciated in the love of higher things 
by the discipline of chastity, de- 
pending more closely on one another 
through poverty, the sisters first 
build in their own monastery the 
Church of God, which by the offer- 
ing of themselves, they help to 
spread throughout the world. 

Sect. I, Chapt l,Art. I,#3,SII 

In order that each monastery may 
be a fraternal community, all ac- 
cept and regard each other as mem- 
bers of the same body, differing 
in natural dispositions and gifts 
but equals in the bond of charity 
and by profession. 

Sect.I,Chapt.l ,Art.l ,#4, SI 

In the various dealings of the 
monastery with neighbors, guests 
and those who come to them, that 
charity which unites the nuns lead- 
ing their hidden life should shine 
out to all men. The Prioress es- 
pecially should be mindful of this 
duty of charity, and those sisters 
whose task it is to communicate 
frequently with externs. But the 
whole community, living together 
with one heart in God, should be 
as it were a center from which 
that charity radiates upon all. 
Sect.I.Chapt.l ,Art.l ,#14 

The community established in the 
monastery is a school of charity 
whose teacher is Christ the Lord 
with all the sisters cooperating, 
each according to her status and 
• Sectll Chapt. I, #118, SI 1 1 

The 1930 Constitutions repeatedly stress conformity to observance; the 
1971 Constitutions just as insistently direct observance towards its end ar)d 
purpose as a framework in which to live true Christian community. Thereby they 
firmly establish observance as a MEANS, not as a goal. The goal of any 

...the means given to the Nuns by the Ho- 
ly Patriarch Saint Dominic for the attain- 
ment of this end, and transmitted to us 
by venerable tradition, are especially: 
the three solemn vows of poverty, chas- 
tity and obedience; the solemn recitation 
of the Divine Office; certain fasts and 
bodily mortifications; and the devout 
and constant contemplation of Our Lord, 
Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. 
pg 23, Chapt 1 , #6 

Although the Nuns are not bound to have 
perfect charity, yet as religious they 
are bound to strive after and use the 
means to acquire perfect charity: obser- 
ving those things determined and pre- 
scribed for them according to the Rule 
and Constitutions of which they have 
made profession. 

pg.69 Chapt XI, Art. IV f!47 

All useless intercourse with secular per- 
sons is full of dangers and is therefore 
to be avoided by the Nuns, as becomes 
virgins consecrated to God. 

pg. 88, Chapt XIV, Art. I ,#186 

Let both the prioress and her subjects 
earnestly strive that their intercourse 
with externs in no way offend against 
regular observance, religious silence 
and the general peace of mind. All 
should therefore endeavor to keep their 
Monastery as far as possible removed 
from the world, each one seeking to keep 
a guard over her soul as over a garden 
enclosed for the Divine Spouse. 

pg. 88, Chapt XIV, Art. I, #187 


Christian life is always charity. The Constitutions give structure to our 
vocation to become Christian through the medium of our Dominican monastic 
life, and then, conversely, show how our particularization of the Christian 
ethos is related to our brothers and sisters in the total community of hu- 
mankind. In other words, our holiness lies in being a Christian community, 
living the message of the Gospel. We simply accomplish this within the 
Dominican framework. 

The 1971 Constitutions do not lose sight of the importance of ob- 
servance as the means through which we are helped to remain steadfast in 
our vocation. Observance is yery necessary. Observance is the framework 
in which we surrender our poor "scoop of humanity to be worked upon by the 
grace of the Lord," as Father Tugwel 1 has so well expressed it. 2) The com- 
munity has the first responsibility for formation (Sect. II ,Chapt. 1 ,#H8,SIII) 
Community is each one of us, striving together. In the commitment, genero- 
sity, fervor and harmony of our lives together the young will "become sta- 
ble and grow in their vocation." (Sect. II , Chapt I ,#121 ,SIII ). In the 1971 
Constitutions all monastic discipline and each of the vows are treated from 
this point of view. 


The first Article on obedience in the 1971 Constitutions reminds us 
that Dominic required a willing obedience of the brethren, but was himself 
obedient to the Chapter as it formulated laws for the Order. Our thought is 
therefore directed not just to the person of the superior (as in the 1930 
Constitutions) but to the more complete understanding of our common obedi- 
ence to Dominican life. This Article on Dominic's obedience inserts our 
expression of obedience firmly into the Dominican tradition, which then col- 
ors our approach to obedience in very unique ways. It safeguards Dominican 
obedience and puts the role of the superior into the rightful context of 
community and Dominican life. The superior has a special responsibility for 
safeguarding the common good and fostering the discipline and goals of Do- 
minican monastic life. That is why she has been elected. But each one of us 
also has responsibilities for furthering these goals and the common good of 

The 1971 Constitutions state that the principle of our unity comes 
through obedience. The unity concomitant with obedience is not just a mat- 
ter of the command of the prioress and the conformity of the sister, but al- 
so entails an exercise of personal responsibility. This dimension- of the 
personal responsibility of each member to seek the common good and to place 
herself at its disposal expands our understanding of obedience. A new di- 
mension in the 1971 Constitutions (not included in the 1930 text) is the 
superior's obligation to listen to the sisters. Personal responsibility on 
the part of the sisters does not change legitimate obedience to authority, 
nor the authority's right to command. The superior, on her part, has an ob- 
ligation to exercise* her role of leadership when the situation makes this 
necessary. In important matters her final decision cannot be an arbitrary 
one but must be one based upon all the facts and information at her dispo- 
sal , which includes the insights of the sisters. For this reason the obli- 
gation to listen to the sisters is a serious one. 


An attitude of overdependency upon the prioress can obscure personal 
responsibility in a way that is not healthy for the community or for the in- 
dividual. Human maturity can be effectively stifled by such dependency. Ma- 
turity in decision making includes the ability to bear the responsibility 
for our decisions. In immature obedience we seek to be sheltered from the 
consequences of our decisions and this in turn fosters further immaturity. 
Obedience of this type can easily become manipulative and can isolate us 
from a responsible participation in the real life of the community. The 
1971 Constitutions show clearly that true obedience arises from our common 
search (both the superior and the community) for understanding of and commit- 
ment to our Dominican monastic life. 

1930 Constitutions 

Religious obedience is primarily 
and directly concerned with those 
things which are laid down expli- 
citly in the Rule and in these Con- 
stitutions or in the ordinations 
of Chapters. But secondarily and 
indirectly with those things 
whici though not contained expli- 
citly in the law, are however 
found to be necessary or highly 
useful for insuring the obser- 
vance of the laws; of this nature 
are: the ordinary duties withO 
out which the religious state 
could not be maintained, the pen- 
alties due for transgression of 
the Rule, and the ordinations of 
superiors that make for the pre- 
servation of religious life. 

pg.75,Chapt XII , Art. Ill ,#171 

1971 Constitutions 

When the Order began St. Dominic asked 
the brethren to promise him fellowship 
and obedience. He himself submitted to 
the decisions, especially the laws, 
which the general chapter of the breth- 
ren decreed after full deliberation. 
But in governing the order outside the 
general chapter he benignly but firmly 
required a willing obedience from all, 
in those things which, after due deli- 
beration, he himself prescribed. In 
order to continue faithfully in its spi- 
rit and mission, a community needs a 
principle of unity which it obtains 
through obedience. 

Sect. I, Chapt.I, Art. 2, #22, SI 

Therefore in our profession we promise 
obedience to the Master of the Order ac- 
cording to our laws, and thus unity of 
the Order and of profession is preserv- 
ed, since it derives from the unity of 
the head whom all are bound to obey. 
Sec. I, Chapt.I, Art. 2, #22, SII 

The common good which obedience promotes 
also requires that the prioress gladly 
listen to the sisters, especially by 
appropriate consultation with them in 
matters of greater import, without pre- 
judice however to her authority to make 
the final decision. In this way the 
whole community as a single body is 
more suitably directed toward the com- 
mon goal of charity. 

Sec. I, Chapt.I, Art. 2, #25, SI 

- 30- 


Dominican obedience is built upon mutual trust and it involves dia- 
logue. In the 1971 Constitutions the Monastery Chapter ("the body of nuns 
having active voice") is seen in a new light as the place of dialogue and 
it now takes on a much greater role than in the past. In the 1930 Con- 
stitutions the more important decisions were left to the Prioress and her 
Council (which consisted of several ex-officio members and other members 
appointed by the Prioress). The duties of the Chapter were the election 
of the Prioress, the admission of novices to the habit and profession, the 
admission of a nun from another Monastery, certain business transactions 
involving legacies, loans, the alienation of property or precious articles, 
and also, interestingly, the erection or suppression of a school for the 
education of young girls. The sisters were also allowed to vote on the 
confirmation of the ordinary confessor. 

The 1971 Constitutions give the Chapter of the monastery a more ac- 
tive role in the life of the community. Most importantly, they expand the 
work of the Chapter to include the election of the councillors. The Chap- 
ter has the duty, through consultative or deliberative vote, to express its 
views on matters previously decided either by the prioress alone, or the 
prioress and her council. Another important work of the Chapter is the 
compilation of the Directory and the sending of petitions to the Mas- 
ter of the Order. The Directory (new in the 1971 Constitutions) allows 
each monastery Chapter to formulate the particular form of their com- 
mon life. These changes have repercussions on the way obedience is viewed. 

1930 Constitutions 1971 Constitutions 

In each monastery there shall be Council The chapter of the monastery is 

Mothers without whose consent the Prior- the body of nuns having active 

ess may not treat of the more important voice in the monastery, which un- 

matters. der the presidency of the prior- 

Chapt.V, Art. I, #499 ess has the power to examine and 

T , rv^r^„v, r i, a n Ko ™«w^b Q ^ kw +^ Q decide on matters of greater im- 

The Chapter shall be convoked by the . .. . 3 . u _ „ x 

n • u j portance according to the norm of 

Prioress whenever necessary, and no- the law 

tice must be given of it a day in ^p^TT Chan 1 Art ? #??n 
advance so that the vocals , knowing bee. 11 ,map. I ,Art.^,#^U 

what is to be discussed, may, be- 
fore God, consider the matter so as 
to vote righteously.. 
Chapt VI, #521 

In the Chapter, having invoked the 
Holy Spirit and the matter having 
been proposed by the president, it is 
permitted to each to express her opin- 
ion, but the matter ( shall be decided 
by a secret vote, and this under pain 
of null ity. 

Chapt VI, #524 

In the 1971 Constitutions obedience has a relationship not only to the 
superior, but also to the Chapter. 



The article on Regular Chapter in the 1971 Constitutions speaks of it 
as being a vehicle of mutual assistance for the members, an aid to renew- 
al, and a means for developing the regular life; whereas the 1930 Constitu- 
tions call it, "the Chapter of Faults" and deal with it accordingly. Chapter, 
in the 1930 edition, was seen primarily as a gathering of the community to 
pray for benefactors, acknowledge blessings received, and to learn religious 
humility by the confession of faults. The concept of mutual assistance to- 
ward renewal and development contained in the 1971 Constitutions suggests a 
new orientation, an effort involving active community participation which 
is not included in the 1930 Constitutions. Renewal took place there through 
the individual being renewed at Chapter, and this in turn making the whole 
community more fervent. In the 1971 Constitutions renewal is seen as a con- 
certed community effort. Comparing the phrasing of the two documents, it 
seems to me that the change of emphasis in the 1971 Constitutions could 
bring about a far more dynamic change in the life of the whole community. 

In both documents the matter for Chapter consists in light faults com- 
mitted against the Rule and Constitutions. The 1930 Constitutions make the 
obligation to acknowledge faults more serious than the 1971 Constitutions do. In 
the former, by not acknowledging faults, even light ones, the sisters dis- 
pose themselves to sin. Willfully omitting the chapter penance is declared 
sinful. (1930, #347). The 1971 Constitutions omit any obligation to acknow- 
ledge faults and do not mention at all the matter of sin in regard to the 
failure to perform the chapter penances. Also, the format for conducting the 
Chapter is left open in the 1971 Constitutions. 

1930 Constitutions 

By the Chapter of Faults is meant 
the calling together of the community 
by the Prioress, to tell of benefits 
received, to pray for benefactors, and 
as an exercise of religious humility, 
for the confession of daily faults or 
failings against the Rule and Consti- 
tutions. This school of virtue was 
held in great esteem by St. Dominic. 
pg.l31,Chapt XXIII, #341 

If Chapter is not held every day, it 
should be called at least once a week, 
and after the manner laid down in the 
Ceremonial of the Order. But if it 
is held daily, it may be omitted on 
days when a general Absolution is 

pg.l32,Chapt.XXMI, #344 

1971 Constitutions 

At the regular chapter the nuns, in 
charity and humility, fraternally 
gather under the leadership of the 
prioress for mutual assistance in 
the renewal and development of the 
regular life. 

Sect. I ,Chapt.l , Art. 5, #74 

The time for holding the regular 
chapter is to be determined in the 
directories. It should be held at 
least once a month. 

Sect.I,Chapt.l , Art. 5, #75 

The regular life of the community is 
to be considered in the chapter ei- 
ther by self-accusation of failures 
or in some other way conformable to 
the usage of each monastery. The 
one presiding may appropriately give 
a talk on the spiritual or religious 
life and make corrections. Also 
prayers for the benefactors are to 
be offered. 

Sect. I. ,Chapt.l , Art. 5, #76 


In the accusation made in the regular 
chapter the sisters are to accuse 
themselves only of those failures or 
defects contrary to the Rule and laws 
of the Order which do not involve loss 
of one's good name. 

Sect.I,Chapt.l ,Art.5,#77 

The 1971 Constitutions state that the regular life of the community 
should be considered in the Chapter, especially in the light of renewal and 
development, and this is something well worth pondering. The 1971 Constitu- 
tions leave open the format for Chapter by stating that the Chapter can be 
conducted in the traditional way of "self-accusation of failures" or "in some 
other way conformable to the usage of each Monastery." Could we not also con- 
sider the article on fraternal correction in this edition in connection with 
the examination of the regular life within the Chapter? 

"Zealous for each other with the zeal of God, the sisters should not 
be afraid to help each other by discreet admonitions." 


By this I do not mean going back to proclamations, something very alien to 
our present mentality, but rather taking the underlying meaning of this text and 
applying it to the consideration of the regular life of the community in chap- 
ter. Regular Chapter could be a time when we discuss together our vision and 
goals as a community with an eye to calling one another to a fuller realization 
of these goals and ideals. By reminding ourselves of these goals, we are en- 
riched by the insights, strivings and struggles of our sisters as expressed by 
them within a community context. A greater clarity is attained. We have 
placed before us guidelines by which to see the truth of ourselves and the 
truth toward which we are to continue to strive. Without pointing a finger at 
any one person, each one of us can come to know ourselves better in the light 
of the goals we discuss. We are able to challenge and to encourage one an- 
other to persevere in our search for God and for a deeper love for one another. 
This ongoing challenge of seeing ourselves and setting clear goals prevents us 
from hiding behind our observance without ever really surrendering the deepest 
part of our humanity to the Lord. 

We can call one another to recognize the graced moments of conversion, mo- 
ments when the Spirit calls the community to deeper faithfulness and to new 
vitality. Such an attitude prepares us to follow the Spirit of the Lord 
as he guides the community to holiness. By heightening our consciousness of 
the guises in which these challenges present themselves, and at the same time 
recognizing certain moments of change and decision as INVITATIONS from the 
Spirit to conversion, both on a communal and an individual level, we are en- 
abled to respond with greater alacrity and faithfulness. These moments of de- 
cision keep a community alive and vital. 

The 1971 Constitutions, then, have opened the way to more dialogue within 
the Chapter. Our community chapter meetings are the time to discuss and say 
honestly what we think. Trust is presupposed when we dare to take the risk of 
sharing our thoughts and our dreams with one another. Do we take seriously 
enough the obligation we have to become a part of the dialogue of Chapter? 


This is an obligation for all of us, not just for a few. If those who easily 
express their views need to exercise self-restraint on occasion, it is equal- 
ly true that the quieter members of the community need to exert themselves at 
times and to take the risk of sharing their thoughts. Those who find it 
difficult to speak before a group might, as an alternative, write 
out their thoughts to be read at Chapter. All of us need to develop the art 
of listening and reflecting upon what each sister shares, thus avoiding the 
danger of merely reacting to one another. The ability to l isten critically 
to the thoughts and ideas expressed by our sisters, combined with a seeking 
of the truth together, could be wonderful sources of growth and development. 
According to the dictionary, critical listening consists in "the ability to 
exercise careful judgment and judicious evaluation". In our close communi- 
ty situation I think we need to strive continually to be good critica"! lis- 
teners, judging not by the personality of the one sharing but by the con- 
tent of the thoughts shared within community discussions. Mutual respect 
for each other and appreciation of our varying insights are always two impor- 
tant goals towards which to strive. The Chapter as a forum for mutual as- 
sistance could indeed be a very practical and energizing force for improv- 
ing the quality of our communal life, as well as an exciting area of chal- 
lenge where much constructive work can be done. 


This seems the loaical place to consider the Article on work. In addition 
to the conventional interpretation of work found in monastic tradition , and 
included in both the 1930 and 1971 Constitutions, a new factor appears in 
the latest text, which is the accountability of each member in promoting 
the common good. The 1930 Constitutions regard work mainly as an 
antidote to idleness and specify that the prioress or another nun be pre- 
sent as a sort of supervisor while the nuns are working, but the 1971 Constitu- 
tions speak of work by using such terms as "awareness of responsibility", 
"willing acceptance of tasks and offices", and "generously lending a help- 
ing hand where it is needed." Work serves the common good because it is a 
witness of a Christian community in which each cooperates for the good 
of all. 

The 1930 Constitutions had specified that the sisters should "devote 
themselves. .. to manual work for the common utility", and in that way stated 
that work must be done for the good of all, with the superior placed in the 
role of overseer of the work. The 1971 Constitutions, on the other hand, place 
superior and sisters together as collaborators seeking, with humil i ty and sound 
judgement , the common good. The article on work in the 1971 Constitutions 
clearly directs the sisters towards collaboration in tasks performed. This sectio' 
on work must be viewed in connection with the one on obedience (Art. II, #25, SI, p. 8) 
Obedience promotes the common qood, the cooperation between superior and 
sisters, and helps us to direct all our activity "as a sinqle body... to- 
wards the common goal of charity." (Ibid.) 

1930 Constitutions 1971 Constitutions 

Since idleness is an enemy of the soul, Aware of their responsibility to- 

and the mother and nurse of vices, let wards the common good, the Sisters 

no one in the cloister remain idle, but should willinq accept tasks and 

let each be always occupied, if she can offices in the monastery, and glad- 

in some good work; for she is not easi- ]y lend a helping hand to others. 


1930 Constitutions 1971 Constitutions 

ly ensnared by temptation who is intent especially to those whom they see 
on some worthy employment. to be overburdened. 

Part I ,Chapt.XX,#297, p. 120 Sect. I ,Chapt.l ,#4, SII,p.7 

Except at the hours and times in which Work is demanded by relgious pover- 
they must be engaged in prayer, the ty and serves the common good by 
office or other necessary employment, begetting love in cooperation, 
all, with the exception of those offi- Sect. I, Cnapt. IV, #111 ,SI I ,p.l5 
cials who may have been dispensed be- 
cause of the duties of their charge, The superiors and the sisters 
should attentively devote themselves should with humility and sound 
as indicated in the monastery Horari- judgment willingly cooperate in the 
urn to manual works for the common uti- common work, 
lity, and this even in the novitiate. Ibid. #115 
Ibid. #298 

The Prioress, or Sub-Prioress, or an- 
other Nun appointed for the purpose by 
the Prioress, should be present with 
the Nuns while they work. 
Ibid. #299 


The Article on chastity in the 1971 Constitutions begins with the rea- 
son for the vow. We promise to be celibate for the sake of the kingdom. Celi- 
bacy expands our capacity to love and to receive the love of our brothers and 
sisters. The Constitutions place before us the example of Dominic whose 
whole life "was consumed with love and zeal for souls." (Art. Ill ,#28) 

The 1930 Constitutions stress the safeguards to chastity, pointing out 
those things which should be avoided. Although these Constitutions put be- 
fore us the spiritual aids to chastity: humility, fervent prayer, the sacra- 
ments, and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Mary, St. Dominic and all the 
saints, these means are not integrated into life in community, and common 
life is not presented explicitly as an important means of growth in our celi- 
bate commitment. 

The 1971 Constitutions, on the other hand, enumerate similar aids to 
strengthen celibacy, but do not isolate them from our life as it is lived 
with our sisters. The various spiritual helps are linked together in a more 
positive way, and directed towards union with God and one another. For ex- 
ample, chastity is to be seen "as an exceptional gift of grace by which we 
are more intimately consecrated and the more easily united with an undivided 
heart to the God who first loved us." (Art. II, #29, SI). Or again, "we gradu- 
ally attain to a mora effective purification of heart, freedom of spirit and 
fervor of charity." (Art II,#29,SII). Also, "our sisters. . .should in all the 
circumstances of life maintain intimate communion with God by means of a lov- 
ing union with Christ." (Art. I II ,#31 , SI) Therefore the 1971 Constitutions 
differ from the 1930 Constitutions in that they explain the role asceti- 
cism, prayer and devotion play in nourishing our goals of communion with God 
in Christ, and with one another. The 1930 Constitutions concentrate on the 


religious means which help us to give ourselves exclusively to God 

1930 Constitutions 

By the vow of Chastity the religious 
bind themselves to observe evangelical 
celibacy, and they bind themselves 
besides with a new obligation, namely 
that of the vow itself, to abstain from 
every action, interior or exterior, con- 
trary to chastity. 
Chapt. XII, #165, p. 74 

To preserve the angelic virtue, let the 
Nuns make use of appropriate means, the 
chief are: to avoid unnecessary inter- 
course with those outside the Monastery 
to observe modesty in word and action; 
to restrain the senses; to take the 
discipline often, after the example 
of our HOly Father St. Dominic; to 
cultivate humility; to pray fervently 
and to receive the Sacraments frequently 
to be devoted heart and soul to the 

Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Virgin 
Mary, St. Dominic and all the other saints 
of our Order. 

Ibid. #168, p. 75 

Let them avoid, too, every familiarity 
even with our Brethren or with one an- 
other, fly the occasions of temptation, 
watch over their thoughts, curb the 
flesh, and ever occupy themselves in 
good and useful work. 
Ibid. #169, p. 75 

1971 Constitutions 

Likewise, more and more under the 
insistent love of Christ, namely 
the all embracing divine friendship, 
they should become all things to 
all men; and in the common life of 
the religious family to which they 
are more strongly bound by chastity, 
they should cultivate fraternal and 
serene friendships. 

Sect. I, Chapt. 1, #31 , SII 

A radically new aspect in the 1971 Constitutions is mention of the 
positive value of friendship as an excellent help towards fostering chastity. 
Both our friendship with God and with one another are highlighted as the way 
and the goal of our perfection, "more and more under the insistent love of 
Christ, namely the all embracing divine friendship, they should become all things 
to all men.. .in the common life of the religious family. .. they should culti- 
vate fraternal and serene friendships." (See above) The section on chastity 
situates celibacy in the traditional context of a free and universal love for 
all our brothers and sisters and then declares that we owe a special friendship 
and love to those with whom chastity binds us more strongly, namely, our 
religious community. 

Sharing and sisterly exchange on the whole are viewed with a certain 
amount of distrust in the 1930 Constitutions. The present Constitutions, on 


the contrary encourage a "unanimous sharing" in order that "the 
contemplative life and sisterly union may bear more abundant fruit, 
(Sect. I, Chapt. I, #7, p. 7) 

1930 Constitutions 

Let the Prioress however be 
cautious against readily giving 
leave to speak without a reason- 
able cause. 

Chapt. XV, #204, p. 93 

Excluding the places and times 
aforesaid, the prioress can give 
the Nuns permission to speak: nay 
more a recreation is allowed to 
all the Nuns after dinner and, 
whe^e it is customary, after 
supper. . .This recreation is to 
be held at the appointed place, 
and no one must absent herself 
from it without special permission 
of the Prioress. 
Ibid. #203, p. 93 

1971 Constitutions 

In Order that the contemplative 
life and sisterly union may bear 
more abundant fruit, a unanimous 
sharing should be of the great- 
est importance to all the sisters, 
"for a good that is commonly ap- 
proved, is swiftly and easily pro- 

Sect. I , Chapt. I , #7, p. 7 

Mutual knowledge and sisterly union 
are fostered by various recreations 
and excahnges either of a general 
or special character, at determined 
times... the example of Father Dominic, 
of whom it was said that "no one 
was more of a community man... 
Ibid. #6, p. 7 

In keeping with the spirit of our present constitutions , the opportunities 
for sharing and conversation may be something we need to look at more closely 
and honestly in order to work out new possibilities of sharing with one an- 
other within the framework of the monastic silence and solitude. 


The 1971 Constitutions give us a rich theology of poverty (Sect. I , Chapt 1 
Art. IV, #32 and #33). Poverty is described as a freedom from servitude to pos- 
sessions in order that we may "more fully devote ourselves to God." Through 
the deprivations of the vow of poverty we are reminded of the actual poverty 
of our brothers and sisters throughout the world which we are meant to share 
and be identified with. The 1930 Constitutions, on the other hand, have a 
more juridical approach to poverty. The 1971 Constitutions complete the pic- 
ture of poverty by affirming our commitment, not only as a duty of the whole 
community, but also as something "to which we are committed as individuals. 1 ' 
(Sect. I, Art IV, #34, SI , p. 9) 

1930 Constitutions 

All the Nuns, without exception, are 
forbidden to have temporal goods, ex- 
cept alone for their use and with the 
permission of the superior. 

Chapt. XII, Art. I, #150, p. 71 

Common life, which is urged and com- 
manded by the Sacred Canons, by the 
Rule, and by our Constitutions, and 

1971 Constitutions 

With a vibrant confidence in the Lord, 
this spirit of poverty impels us to 
make our riches consist in the justice 
of God's kingdom. It is a freedom 
from servitude and from the care of 
worldly affairs so that we may more 
fully devote ourselves to God and have 
more time for Him. Consequently, it 


1930 Constitutions 1971 Constitutions 

has been so often insisted on by means for us a deprivation by which we 
General Chapters, should be observ- more closely share with the poor who 
ed with care by the Nuns, and the are to be evangelized; but it is also 
Prioress must permit no deviation a generosity towards the brethren and 
from it. our neighbors since for the kingdom of 

Chapt XII, Art. I, #160, p. 73 God we freely spend all that we have 

"so that in the needs of this lifewhich 
pass away that charity may reign which 
abides forever. 

Sect. I. Chapt. I ,Art.4 

Therefore in our profession we promise 
God to have no personal possessions but 
to hold all things in common and to use 
them under the direction of the supe- 
riors for the common good of the monas- 
tery, the Order and the Church. 
Sect. I, Chapt. 1 ,Art 4 

Nor in the community is the amassing of 
of common goods, which do not contri- 
bute to its purpose, admissable since 
this is contrary to the poverty to 
which we are committed as individuals 
and as a community. 

Sect. I , Chapt. 1. Art. 4, #34, SI 1 1 


I believe that the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the new direction in 
which our communities are now going. It is only with our cooperation and 
participation that the work of renewal will be completed. We need to prepare 
for the future and not simply to allow the future to happen. To be satisfied 
with certain things because "we have always done them that way", is not ade- 
quate for our present time in history, as we are realizing. We need the cour- 
age to question and to search, not in order to create doubts, but rather to 
increase the quality of our monastic life. This surely is a vital attitude 
which will foster growth and holiness. We should not be afraid to 
challenge one another with our questions and our searchings. 

The Basic Constitution of the Order expresses this spirit \/ery aptly: 

"The essential purpose of the Order and the way of life in- 
spired by it have their importance in every age of the 
Church's life. Nevertheless, as we learn from our history, 
in times of great change and evolution, it is urgent 
that we rightly understand this life and purpose. 

"In this situation it is the genius of our Order to re- 
new and adapt itself courageously. It must seek out 
and examine all that is good and useful in the aspira- 
tions of contemporary man and draw these things into 
the stable fabric of its own life..." 


The Order, then, encourages us to adapt. That does not mean a mind- 
less adaptation, but one by means of which we reflect upon our present 
situation in the light of tradition. In such an atmosphere we are encourag- 
ed first of all to seek to understand the true meaning of our vocation and 
then to adapt courageously, drawing these adaptations into the stable fabric 
of our life. May these few reflections generated by a comparative study of 
the 1930 and 1971 Constitutions add just a little to the common reflection 
that we have undertaken at this time. 


Quotations from the Constitutions are all taken from Constitutions of th e 
Nuns of the Sac red Order o f Pr eachers, 1930 edition, Polygot Vatican Press 
and Constitut i ons of the Nuns of the O rder of Preachers , 1971 ed i t i on , 
translated by the Promoterate of the Province of St. Joseph and approved on 
behalf of the Master of the Order. 

1) Gabriel O'Donnell, O.P. Workshop on "Cassian and Dominican Spirituality 1 
given at the Monastery at Lufkin, March 2-8, 1985. 

Father O'Donnell in his workshop introduced and developed some extremely 
important thoughts on community in the Dominican tradition. He spoke of 
community in our Dominican life as the primary authority and nurturing 
ground, as well as the principal tool of spiritual formation: in the 
Dominican tradition the community carries out the function which is 
the proper role of abbot or abbess in early monastic tradition.. Our 
growth in holiness is bound up with our decision to surrender our life 
completely within the community. He challenged us to work towards a 
clear vision of our goals in order to take an active part in shaping 
our future, in clarifying our understanding of what Dominican mon- 
astic life is in essence. He felt that understanding of the early 
tradition was a great help towards this. 

2) Simon Tugwell, O.P. Workshop on Dominican Spirituality given at the 
Monastery in Lufkin, August 31 - September 5, 1985 

Father Tugwell presented an historical overview of different approaches 
to observance in the monastic tradition. He singled out a type of ob- 
servance based on skepticism about the motivation of people in general. 
Observance itself tended to be sacramental i zed so .as to be the way of 
putting off the old man and becoming a new creation in Christ. He said 
that this was the ideal of Cluny and Citeaux and that while it is a 
legitimate option it risks becoming empty and mechanical without lead- 
ing to real conversion. Then he cited the more primitive style as that 
of the desert Fathers who were concerned with the basic facts of human 
nature and how one could be saved, a 'scoop of humanity being worked 
on by the grace 'of God', as he put it. Father Tugwell thought that 
St. Dominic tended towards this more primitive style, that he did es- 
tablish a fairly strict monastic framework but expected it to be a 
means of facing our real human reality and situation and handing it 
over to the work of God's grace; the framework was not to become a 
protective device. 




Part I - The Friars "Bronx 

Sister Mary of Jesus, 0. 

The Dominican Order has a lone; tradition, indeed from its very in- 
ception, of a deep-seated need for, constant attention to,?, nd a well- 
developed use of study as a means of fostering the spiritual growtn of 
its members. 

To twentieth century ears, this is doubtless a strange-sound ing 
point to emphasize, but one must consider the background: 

Dominic Guzman died in 1221 5 the Nuns had been founded 

in 1206? the friars in 1216. 

Education in general was the prerogative of the wealthy 

merchant and upper classes. 

Preaching- was the official task of the bishops. 

The Scriptures were not available in the vernacular. 

Seminaries were the exception rather than the rule. Most 

priests learned their "trade" through an apprenticeship to ar. 

older man whom they would eventually succeed. A systematic 

schema of studies was not adopted until the Council of Trent. 
Religious life was generally monastic, or of the military 

orders-- engaged for the most part in manual labor or hospital 

work . 

Dominic's vision was that his followers were to be preachers, hence 
a need for education, for a deep spirit of prayer and holiness of life, 
and an. insatiable zeal for the salvation of souls. 

It is interesting to note in Dominic's own life that nearly ten years 
were spent in STUDY in Palencia'; another ten years were devoted to PRAYER 
and meditation as a canon in the Chapter of Osma, and ten more years were 
engaged in PREACHING among the Albigenfiians of the Midi. In the six re- 
maining years, it could be said that he developed the framework of the 
Order from personal experience. 

Without entering into a lengthy discussion as to the sources of the 
Constitutions and the lifestyle subsequently adopted, suffice it to say 
that the Chapter of 1216 chose as its Rule that of St. Augustine, aug- 
menting it with the Customary (1216) and Institutions (1220), the former, 
the code of regulations formulated to run the local house and establish 
its observances--drawn largely from the Rule of Premontre; and the 
latter, an original body of laws defining government and apostolate . ■*■ 

St. Dominic has often been portrayed as a cold intellectual--prec ise 
and detailed; there is little of the delightful grace of a Francis about 
him. Abstractions and dry study can lead to a removal from reality, to a 
distorted view. It is perhaps for this reason that study for the Domi- 
nican is always subordinated to the purpose of the Order: the salvation 
of sculs, and that charity is its prime justification. It is moved by 
charity for neighbor that one seeks to aid him; charity; for the Dominican, 
calls forth the sacrifice of religious observance and the discipline it 
entails to this end: the other's good. 

That Dominic put people first can be seen from a story told of his 
student days--how he 'sold his annotated manuscripts to obtain money for 
the starving: "I will not study on dead skins when men are dying of 
hunger . "2 

Study was and is seen as a striving for God and those things that 

would lead others to him. Contemplation could develop out of the un- 
derstanding grasped and both together would feed the efficacy of the 
apostolate . 


In this sketch. I would like to consider several aspects of study, 
all of which are certainly interwoven: study as a means of fostering 
one's individual spiritual growth; dispensation as it was used to further 
study, and the need for study in preparation for the ministry of preach- 

Vicaire related a story of the early preachers reported by Alexander 
Stavensby, theology professor of the Chapter of Ste. Etienne in Toulouse, 
dated to about 1215: 

The master was divine his course. He saw the preacher 
come in with six companions, all wearing the same habit. 
They assured him that they wanted to enroll in his school 
and greatly desired to attend his classes. They were 
not all equally in need of them. After this, for a long 
time to come, the master enjoyed their familiar friend- 
ship and instructed them as his pupils.-^ 

Having excluded the trimmings, this story has actual historical 
foundation. One enjoys the view of the leader shepherding six little 
friars to school; but the story demonstrates graphically the attention 
paid by the Saint to theological studies, that source of preaching and 
wellspring of contemplation. 

Related to this is the fact repeated by many witnesses at the 
canonization process that throughout St. Dominic's travels, he was 
never without the Gospel of Matthew and the Epistles of Paul, and that 
he derived great benefit, also from the Conferences of Cassian.^ 

St. Augustine says, "In the study of created things, we must not 
exercise a mere idle and passing curiosity, but must make them a step- 
ping-stone to things that are immortal and that abide forever ." Clearly, 
study was to foster prayer and contemplation and lead to a closer union 
with God. 

In the Chapter proceedings of 1216, St. Dominic was found giving 
a strong impetus to preaching, but always as the outgrowth of prayer and 
study. Contemplation was to overflow into activity. Among those ob- 
servances especially sought was silence to provide and maintain an 
atmosphere conducive to prayer and study. 

That study was one of the observances geared to forming the young 
religious may be seen in the results of the 1216 Chapter dis- 
cussions dealing with the role of the novice master: 

the novice master teaches his novices humility of heart... 
to behave .. .with what care they must handle the books... 
what application they should have in study .. .read ing or medi- 
tating, striving to retain all they can... and what fervor 
they will have in preaching when the time comes... -> 
or as Tugwell corrects it "whenever is appropriate"--more consistent 
with the fact that novices in the early days (prior to the Chapter of 
1236) could be and were called upon to preach. 

Despite a strong bent towards things monastic, the friars preachers 
were innovative to a large degree. Study and the ministry of souls re_ 
placed the manual labor of the earlier Orders. The list of faults was 
taken from the Premonstratensians , but added a number of new possibilities 
The master commits a fault by neglect in teaching; the student by neg- 
lect in study, if he fall asleep during lectures or study, and others. 

In 1220 then* appeared a notation, "the superior has the right to dis- 
pense himself and the brethren from anything that might get in the way 
of study or preaching or the good of souls."' 

Dispensation was granted not merely for reasons of health as in the 
older Rules, but that the salvation of souls might be better effected. 
Fasting, abstinence and attendance at the choral office (private re- 
citation was still obligatory) could be dispensed "l^st study be impeded." 


Thomas Merton has an oversimplified but nevertheless succinct 
description of the obligation of study in The S ign of Jonas : 

1 admire 3t. Dominic above all for his love of Scrip- 
ture and for his respect for the STUDY of Scripture. Scrip- 
ture was the heart of his contemplation and of his preaching... 
In St. Dominic's first Friaries they were brief and quick about 
the Off ice... in order to get to their booKs, and the friars 
were encouraged to prolong their vigils in study. Study was 
not precisely the essence of the Dominican vocation, never- 
theless each house was a house of study and tne study was to 
lead to contemplation that would overflow in preaching." 
This brines us to the third area of importance: study for the 
preaching apostolate, and study in forming the preacher. 

From a purely practical point of view, it is easily seen that 
study was required in order to preach, debate with heretics or demon- 
strate the truths of the faith. 

To this end, the house in Paris, Ste . Jacques, became the stud ium 
generale for the Order in 1221, conferring as it did the universal 
license to teach theology. And subsequent foundations would be located 
in major university towns such as, for example, Oxford. 

Jordan of Saxonv, St. Dominic's immediate successor, coined the 
descriptive phrase of the nreachers, " rioneste vivere , d iscere et 
docere " (to live honorably, to learn and to teach ) . Houses of study 
were set up in all the provinces, and despite tne severity of the mendi- 
cant poverty, books took first priority in the use of tithes. 9 

Study acted as a formative guide for the developing" preacher. 
This can be seen in the Prologue to the Primitive Constitutions: 
Because a precept of our Rule commands us to have 
one heart and one mind in the Lord, it is fitting that we, 
who live under one rule and under the vow of one profession, 
be found uniform in the observance of canonical religious life, 
in order that the uniformity maintained in our external con- 
duct may foster and indicate the unity which should be pre- 
sent interiorly in our hearts... 

It is known that our Order was founded, from the begin- 
ning, especially for preaching and the salvation of souls. 
Our study ought to tend principally, ardently, and with the 
highest endeavor to the end that we might be useful to the 
souls of our neighbors. 

Once again it can be seen that study and contemplation ar-e 
the true sources for apostolic preaching. This entails the sharing 
of the fruits of one's intellectual and spiritual endeavors. 


St. Dominic was innovative in several ways. Founding an Order 
dedicated to preaching, he did away with the manual labor of earlier 
Orders and replaced it with the ministry of souls, based on a back- 
ground of study and 'contemplation. He utilized dispensations not 
only for reasons of health, but also for the good of the apostolate, 
that the individual might profitably spend time in study even at the 
cost of other religious observances. Study was seen as an important 
part of the life-style developed and fostered throughout the novitiate, 
and nurtured throughout one's life since knowledge aided prayer, and 
prayer with knowledge vivified the preaching. 


Ir. an address to the Dominican Educational Association in 1972, 
Father Fabian Parmisano pointed out: 

Dominican study was not to be a sterile affair, a matter 
only of the mind... Ex amore Dei proxima was the qualification 
attached to Dominican study .. .grounded ir\ prayer and showing 
prayer's depth and reverence. And... Like Dominican prayer, 
it was to be ordained to an end beyond itself. Truth for its 
own sake, yes, but always with the further view to reaching 
the minds and hearts of man with it. 

Part II - The Nuns 

The first branch of the Order of St. Dominic to come into 
existence was that of the Nuns, the Sister Preacheresses of the Mon- 
astery of Prouille in Toulouse who were organized in 1206, ten years 
earlier than the friars. 

In this section of the paper, I would like to consider the 
Dominican tradition of study as it was understood and observed by the 
Nuns of the Order. To do this it is necessary to trace briefly the 
history of the Nuns' Constitutions and the legislation or lack of 
it regarding study. This has presented many problems, due mostly 
to a lack of materials easily available. 

The Constitutions of Prouille (J206) do not exist except in the 
Primitive Constitutions of San Sisto, where Dominic adopted the earlier 
model. This was accomplished as he consolidated several groups of Ro- 
man nuns, under the instruction and governance of sisters sent from 
Prouille. By 1232, there was added a separate supplement, entitled 
the Statutes, based on the more developed legislation of the friars: 
clearly an early attempt (between 1228-32) on the part of the Nuns to 
bring the Second Order into greater conformity with the Brethren. 1 3 

A period of rapid expansion in the number of monasteries followed 
the death of St. Dominic (1221); he himself had founded houses at 
Prouille, Rome and Madrid, and a fourth was planned for Bologna. By 
I25O » thirty-two houses existed in the German province alone. Numer- 
ous other communities sought to affiliate with the Dominicans: Father 
Hinnebusch mentions Cistercians, August inians and Sister Hospitallers 
to name a few. Others were placed under the Order by papal decree. 

With affiliations, adoptions and new foundations, there came to be 
a wide range of legal codes in effect, enough that Humbert of Romans, 
the fifth Master General, lamented the "variety of constitutions" in 
use. He obtained permission from Rome to unify the laws. In 1259. he 
promulgated new constitutions, obligatory to the point of the Nuns* 
retaining their Dominican identity.". According to Hinnebusch, these 
remained with virtually no great revision, until the 'new' Constitutions 
of 1930 under Master General M.S. Gillet. 

We can see from the San Sisto Constitutions that study did not 
play any role in the legislation of the Nuns as it had for the friars: 
there is only one mention of study made: 

...with the exception of the hours which the Sisters ought 

to consecrate to prayer, to reading, to the preparation of 

the Office and chant, or to study (l'etude des lettres), they 

should devote themselves to some manual labor as shall be 

judged good by the Prioress. * 
It would seem that study was at least allowed for. 


vvith Humberi.'s codification, even this scanty reference disappeared, 
and was presumably missing in the seventeenth century revision by 
mahuet. In Potton's revision (1st edition, 3 864; 2nd, 1 878 ; . this sec- 
tion allows for "prayer, the Office or any other necessary occupation," 
but makes no mention of study. This must be emphasized because Hum- 
bert's original intent was to bring the Nuns' Constitutions into con- 
formity with that of the friars. Nothing is legislated about study in 
1930 although a lone - prefatory letter accompanies tne Constitutions 
wherein Master Gillet, in response to a directive from the Sacrec 
Congregation of Religious, gives the reasons for the Nuns to study 
Christian Doctrine and the Truths of the faith. 

As a point of fact, nothing seems to have existed in the legisla- 
tion dealing with study for the Nuns until 1971 when the section 
"Keeping and Hearing the worc\ of God" was added with its directives 
toward the Nuns' role in the ministry of the Word; the need for 
spiritual reading and study, tending to "real dialogue with God . ' ' ' 

Exclusive of legislation, what was the actual experience of the 

Nuns regarding study? Once again, resource material is difficult tc 
locate . 

It would seem that the Nuns never lost the desire for close ties 
with their brethren: they were co-operators in the ministry of souls. 
One has only to recall the tales of St. Dominic giving conferences at 
San Sisto, and the very extensive exchange of letters between Jordan 
of Saxony and Diana D'Andalo and the Nuns of St. Agnes in Bologna, ^ 
to catch a glimps-e of the mutual ties. Certainly the Latin posed 
no problem for them. They shared in the preaching through their 
prayers, interest and support. 

Even if the monasteries were to be no more than houses of ac- 
commodation for the friars (as Tuei/vell seems to suggest;, the Nuns' 
vecation was such that they had to share intellectually in at least 
some of the friars' endeavors. 

The influence of Eckhart, Suso and Tauler is evident. Many of trie 
Nuns were involved in the mystical movement of the 14th Century in Ger- 
many: the Monastery of Toss particularly comes to mind, and the Ebner 
sisters, Margaret and Christine. A literary style developed! the Nuns 
wrote of their own or their s ister % v is i ons and mystical experiences , cU 

Large libraries suggest at least an interest in reading and study. 
St. Gall in the 1.5th Century had about 325 volumes, 18? of these in 
Latin. Pre-Ref ormat ion Dartford in England listed a wide variety of 
titles including: collections by Richard Rolle ? ,St. John Fisher, a life 
of St. Kateryn of Sene and the Legend a Aurea . Both Latin and the ver- 
nacular seem well represented. 

It was quite natural for many houses of nuns to have a scrip- 
torium for reproducing books. The illumination, binding and calli- 
graphy are in themselves a technical art, but the knowledge needed 
to write and copy certainly required skill in reading and comprehending 
Latin and the vernacular which would in turn require a certain amount 
of study. 

Many earlier monasteries had taken children for education, but 
the Dominican' Nuns never considered this a primary aim. Several places, 
including Dartford, did this on a routine basis, but these houses would 
seem the exception rather than the rule. (Education and teaching be- 
came primary with the Third Order Sisters, not the Second Order Nuns . J 
For their own education, the English freacheresses demanded and 
received masters in Latin and Grammar (Literature) from among the 
friars in 1481. 


The solution in Germany to the problem of providing: intellectual 
and spiritual education for the nuns led Provincial Herman (1286-90; 
to give them fratres docti t lectors or masters in theology for con- 
fessors and preachers on holidays, Sundays and vigils (when the schools 
were closed); these expounded at the grille what was taught in the 
lecture halls. 


The history seems to imply that the daughters of St. Dominic 
sought to emulate their brothers in their intellectual pursuits--all- 
beit to a different end. 

Study never played the same role for the nuns as for the friars. 
Although sharing deeply in the ministry of preaching through prayer 
and penance and in supporting the friars, the nuns--product of a morp 
monastic trad it ion--reta inea the manual labor dropped by the friars in 
favor of preaching and study. 

Neverthe less, study plays a vital> format ive role for the as- 
piring candidate and indeed provides both intellectual and spiritual 
stimulation; knowledge for the Nun, no less than the Friar, enhances 
the life of contemplation. 

In a day when more and more candidates enter at a mature age, 
when education is widely available and sought after, it seems important 
to remember the role study can play in fostering the developing vocation 
and in strengthening and nourishing deeper prayer and dialogue with 
God. It must be seen that our Dominican heritage is rich in bringing 
forth the Truth, in contemplation; and in all the modes and practices 
of achieving these, including- study. 

These examples are drawn largely from the very early days of 
the Order, This is not because none exist today--one has only to 
consider the beginnings of the Dominican Study Week sponsored by the 
Conference--but as a challenge to the Nuns to discern for themselves 
the ways study is applicable in this day of rapid communication and 
expanding knowledge, and to' realize the ever present value of study in 
deepening prayer-life and as a means of sharing and supporting our 
brothers, St. Dominic's other offspring. 

The Nuns, no less than the brethren, share the Dominican heritage i 

St. Dominic may be taken as the Living symbol of the 
aspirations of human nature: an intense intellectual curio- 
sity, exalted and made glorious by faith: a yearning for 
repose, for a kind of sabbath calm felt by the human heart: 
and the need for outlet, for expansion and action. These are 
the three spiritual dimensions: the life of the mind in study, 
the absorption in God by prayer and contemplation} and the 
outflow of the soul into apostolic action. These three are 
not mutually exclusive or contradictory: they are the height 
and depth and breadth of the soul's life. Hence we know what 
characteristi7s to look for in St. Dominic's Order. His true 
children will bear the family likeness. They will be con- 
templatives, teachers and apostles. ^ 



Marie-Hubert Vicaire, OF, St. Dominic and his Times . i* 11 
Book Company. NY, 1964, pp. 208, ff. 
^ St. Dominic: Biographical Documents . Francis C. Lehner, ed . The 

Thomist Press, Washington, DC, 1964, p. 123. 
3vicaire, p. 178. 
^ Documents , p. 118. Dom Jean LeClerq suggests the extensive use cf 

Cassian to be due to the lack of books available on spirituality, 
except for the Conferences . (Private discussion with Dom LeClerq, 
. LaCrosse, 1980) 
^Vicaire, p.209- 

"Simon Tugwell, Or, The Way of the Preacher . Templegate Pub., Spring- 
7 field, 111., 1979. p. 83. 
Albid.. p. 17. 
"Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jon as. Image Books, Doubleday & Co., 

Garden City, NY, P. 209. For another reference to Study as 
Vigil, see "Sermon on St, Dominic," by Thomas Agni of Lentini, 
Early Dominicans: Selected Writings , Simon Tugwell, OF, ed . Faulis: 
o Press, Ramsay, NJ, 1982 , pp. 61-65, especially p. 61. 
Vicaire, p. 178. 
••^ Documents 1 p. 212 (Prologue to Primitive Constitutions). 

Rev. Fabian Parmisano, OP, "Dominican Relevance," DEA Address, 4/5/72, 
Philadelphia. Printed by Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, 
j 2 Summit , NJ. 

Early Documents of the Dominican Sisters , Vol. I "Primitive Constitu- 
tions of San Sisto," Translated from the French & printed at Our Lady 
of the Rosary Monastery, Summit, NJ, 1969. pp. 5-22. 
•^William Hinnebusch, OP, The History of the Dominican Orcer: Origins a".: 
Growth to 1500 . Alba House, Staten Island, 1965, p. 380. 
Ibid . , pp. 384, 406. From 1259 to 1930, there was no major revision. 
There were some modifications in the 17th Century by Fr . mahuet,0F. 
and some others in 1864 by M.A.Potton, OP. The second edition of 
this 1864 work (in 1878) eliminated all the ceremonies, a Ceremoni- 
al having been published in 1872. I made use of this latter text 
in translation. Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Dominic , with 
Notes and Commentaries of Marie-Ambrose Potton, OP. Translated 
1892, Church News Publishing Co., Washington, DC. 

The revision by Humbert of Romans appears in Early Documents of t r .e- 
Dominican Sisters , Vol. II, pp. 5-39. Our Lady of the Rosary Monas- 
tery, Summit, NJ, 1969. 
}£"San Sisto" #34, p. 20. 

Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Religious, 11/25/29; Preface 
Constitutions of the Nuns of the Sacred Order of Preachers , Poly- 
. glot Vatican Press, 1930, pp. xviii-xx. 
' Book of the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers , 1971 1 

Translated, edited and prepared by St. Joseph's Province Promotorate, 
1fl #102, S I. 
° To Heaven With DiaJna t Letters of Jordan of Saxony to Diana D'Andalo an: 
the Nuns of St. Agnes, bologna. Gerald Vann, OP, ed . , Pantheon 
Books, NY, I960. 
^Tugwell, p. 85. 

William Hinnebusch, The History of the Dominican Order: Intellectual 

and Cultural Life to 1500 . Alba Hous, Staten Island, 1973. pp.304, ff. 


21 Dartford Priory: the Higto ry of, the English Preacheresses , by Dominican 

Nuns of lliadTngton. Blackfriars Publication. Oxford, 19^5. PP- 2 3 

and following. 

-Ibid.. P. 17 « . . r D a r * 

2 3Uu^ert Clerissac. Thp_S nirit of St< Dominlc ' London: Burns & Gates, 




Speak, colored leaves 
In your beauty mute yet loud. 
'Tis autumn now and Yhwh 
With His majestic brush 
Has splashed your dainty frames 
With tints of yellow orange and red. j 

Speak, little stream. 

From where did you come and how long has it been 1 

For you to reach this place? | 

In concert you trickle 

And laugh as you dance 

In step to charm this glorious scene I 

You drown my hearing with your message 

Of end, fulfilment and closing. | 

Yes, 'tis autumn now and soon Yhwh * 

Will pluck your plush ripeness 

And cover you with cold bleak whiteness. g 

You glow carries me not unwillingly ft 

And hushes me with peace. 


Sister Mary Regina, O.P. 
(West Springfield, Mass.) _ 





Sister Mary Bernard, O.P. 

"An elder said: Go back to your cell, sit down and stay there, saying your 
prayers. When you're hungry, eat; if you're thirsty, drink; if you feel drowsy, 
well, go to sleep. But stay in solitude. Stay patiently in your cell and it 
will teach you everything." 1 

This and many like sayings from the desert tradition may almost sound sim- 
plistic to modern ears; but with their characteristic bluntness, they can still 
alert us to the surpassing value of monastic solitude. In fact, this element of 
our life might easily be overlooked, in the light of the renewed emphasis on 
Christian community and the psychological dimensions of group dynamics and inter- 
personal communication. Yet, even clinical psychology testifies to the exceptional 
value of solitude. Provided it is desired in a healthy way, the experience of 
solitude often leads to a new and more profound integration of the personality. 

The stress on Christian community is very good, for Christ Himself tells us, 
"This is how all will know you for my disciples: your love for one another 
(Jn 13:35). However, within the broad context of the Christian life, the Dominican 
Nun has a special vocation to mirror Christ withdrawn in prayer. "Through them, 
Christ should be shown contemplating on the mountain " 2 (L umen Ge ntium 46 )> With- 
out ever denying the intrinsic communality of Christian life, the Church documents 
clearly point to solitude as one of the most essential and defining characteristics 
of contemplative institutes. Solitude and withdrawal from the world, for the sake 
of prayer, distinguish it from other forms of consecrated religious life. Thus, 
we find the Fathers of the Second Vatican Counei 1 summoning us to a highly spec if ic 
mode of Christian life: "Members of those communities which are totally dedicated 
to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through 
constant prayer and ready penance. Such communities will always have a distinguished 
part to play in the Mystical Body of Christ, whose members do not all have the same 
function " 3 (P erf ectae Caritatis , #7). 

This fundamental exhortation was expanded a few years later by the Sacred 
Congregation in Venite Seorsum . The instruction is replete with references to 
solitude, beginning with the most familiar introductory paragraph :"' Come away by 
yourselves to a lonely place ' (Mk 6:31). Numerous are those who have heard this 
call and have followed Christ, withdrawing to worship the Father there." 4 

What part, then ; does solitude play in Dominican contemplative life? Surely, we 
are not hermits like the Carthusians, nor do we have the eremitical spirit of the 
Carmelites. Venite S eorsum allows for a great diversity among the various in- 
stitutes which arises from the practical emphasis laid upon mental prayer, liturgy, 
common life and solitude. 


I believe that the Dominican brand of contemplative life flows naturely from 
a twofold source: the Rule of St. Augustine and the example of St. Dominic himself. 
Dominic's choice of the Rule of St. Augustine is significant, for Augustine gave to 
the world a new interpretation of "monachos" from which we derive monk and monas- 
tery. Originally, monachos meant alone or solitary. The monk or nun was one who 


lived alone with God. In the new usage of Augustine, monachos is now 
derived from monos, "one", which signifies unity among many. Hence, those 
who dwell in the monastery should be intimately united to each other. 
"The main purpose for your having come together is to live harmoniously 
in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart " (Rule, Ch . 1), 
This emphasis upon fraternal charity in the "one body" is profound and 
gives to Dominican monasticism its familial and communal flavor. In any 
case, solitude was the original inspiration of monasticism going back at 
least as far as St. Anthony's successive flights into the desert. But for 
us, the spirit of solitude is tempered by the spirit of the Rule. It has 
constantly to be carried out within the setting of a very deep community 
life. The nun can never become severed from the community, even in atti- 
tude, without by that very fact, becoming something other than Dominican. 



p e r v 


c i a t 

a vo i 



by n 


c onf 


to c 



of sol 
a c om 
ad e d h 
r ac c o 
e h ims 
d e d t h 
er , th 
r on i 
ight , 
1 e i su r 
ine s o 
j our ne 
f ac i 1 i 
tud e a 

i tud 
mun i 
is e 
un t s 
e wa 
e Ch 
n li 
d e vo 
e f o 
f th 

ys , 

t y w 
nd c 

e in 
t y ma 
n t i r e 
of h 
nde r i 
ur ch , 
fe, " 
t ing 
r con 
e mon 
Dom in 
h God 
i t h w 

St . 
c omm 
n j n 

1 if 
is 1 
t h o s 

as a 
h ims 
t emp 
a s t e 
i c w 

a 1 o 
h i c h 

Dom i 
o on 
e . 


e wh 

of E 


c an 


1 a t i 


ou 1 d 

ne . 
mo v 

n i c , 

y ■ 

e mo 
Yet , 
o ' w 
s au , 
h om 
on a 
c e a s 
on , 

Al 1 

is an 
re joy 

in Jo 
s o 1 i t u 
alk f r 

pr e f e 
e 1 y t e 
t Osma 
e 1 e s s 1 
he h a r 
en go 

of th 
her wa 
back a 

t of 
ou s , 
i vo 1 
r r i n 
n t s 
s h e 
y to 
y » e 
ap a r 
is t 
s ab 
nd f 



" an 

' s L 


ous 1 

g to 

of s 

h au 

p r a 



t fr 

ak en 

le t 

or th 

n t em 
an s s 
d thi 

y'; 1 

r ema 
anc t i 
n ted 
y e r . 

du r in 
om h i 

t oge 
o b a 1 

be tw 

bod imen t 
ays of h 
s spirit 
u s , wee 
dh ood : h 
ike qu ie 
in in th 
ty and r 
the chur 
C 1 aimin 
ed h ims e 
g his ex 
s c omp an 
t h e r , s e 
anc e the 
een them 

of thi 
im: "No 

must h 
an also 
e did n 
t Jacob 
e 1 ap o 
epo s e . " 
ch by d 
g for h 
If outs 
tens i ve 
ions in 
ems t o 

two p o 

with e 

s p r i nc i 
one was 

a ve 
d i s - 

t a s s o- 
, he 

f his 

ay and 
imse 1 f 
i d e the 

preach - 


1 e s of 
a s e . 

Thus, solitude and community need not be viewed as antithetical 
elements but rather as means to be balanced and integrated, in order 
that they may lead us to the true goal of perfect love. "By the wonder- 
ful favor of God's loving care, in this solitude of ours, we have the 
peace of solitude, and yet we do not lack the consolation and comfort 
of holy companionship. It is possible for each of us to sit alone and 
be silent, and yet it can not be said of us: 'Woe to him who is alone, 
if he should fall, there is none to pick him up. ' We are surrounded by 
companions, yet we are not in a crowd " (Guerric of Igny ). 

Let - us consider now the nature of solitude in itself. Firstly, 
it does not seem to be the sole property of c on t emp 1 a t i ve s . Gabriel 

Marcel claims that solitude is man's 
municable as they are impenetrable, 
because of his being human." 7 

vocation. "People are as incom- 
Thus, solitude is inherent in man 

But why should the nun seek a greater solitude, even beyond this 
fundamental, existential solitude common to all humankind? The great 
doctor of the church, Teresa of Avila, gives us a very succinct answer. 
"To accustom ourselves to solitude is a great help to prayer, and since 
prayer is the mortar which keeps our house together and we come here to 
practice it, we must learn to like what promotes it." 8 Solitude is never 


the necessary cause of grace which always depends upon God's initiative, 
but it does seem to provide optimum conditions for the kind of prayer 
which transforms. It is so necessary^ then, for one to know how to seclude 
oneself in order to let oneself be touched by God, in order to open one- 
self to His word, to His request s y to His sanctifying and healing grace. 

Solitude can be alternately desert or paradise, but usually it is 
a place of severe struggle before it is a place of encounter with God. 
William Johnston, S.J. describes very clearly this condition of struggle. 
"For when one enters the desert without books and magazines, when one's 
senses are no longer bombarded by all the stimuli to which we are or- 
dinarily exposed, when the top layers of the psyche are swept clean and 
bare and empty, then the deeper layers of the psyche rise to the surface. 
the inner demons lift up their faces." 9 In solitude, it is the heart of 
man that inevitably comes to the surface with its innate discord and com- 
pulsions. The fantastic stories of demonic appearances that we find in 
the accounts of the early ascetics are, for the most part, externally 
projected images of what they uncover within: sin and human frailty. 
This is the reason why the Desert Fathers consistently say that even if 
every other ascetic discipline were abandoned, persistence in the cell 
would alone suffice to bring one to spiritual maturity. The piercing 
experience of the depth of sin and weakness within oneself is very pain- 
ful indeed, and one that we would rather avoid at all cost. Yet it is 
only in allowing our own personal darkness to come into God's light, into 
the radiant beams of His infinite love, that we will slowly experience a 
deep inner healing and uprooting of sin. External practices are power- 
less to reach this level of purification which only God, encountered in 
solitude, can bring about. "If the cell is a tomb, it is also a womb. 
a space within which the new creature in Christ can come to full maturity 
(William of St. Thierry). 

In the famous "L ife o_f An th ony " , we can discern a progressive 
pattern of development corresponding to Anthony's flights ever farther intc 
the desert, until at last he returned to become the spiritual father of 
numerous disciples. There are degrees of solitude. From the existen- 
tial solitude consequent upon human life itself,, we move on to a solitude 
freely chosen. "I will stand at my guardpost, and keep watch to see 
what He will say to me " (Habakkuk 2:1), We go apart and in the quieting 
of our soul, hear the still voice of another sphere. Yet even our 
choosing to go apart is in reality a free response to God's prevenient 
action, for He says: "Lo, I will lead her into the desert and speak to 
her heart " (Osee 2:16). Gradually, we move even farther into the 
desert , a desert not of our own choosing , but experienced passively. This 
desert is created by God's incomprehensible presence within. St. John 
of the Cross wrote much about this kind of desert- but briefly; it seems 
that a very intense sense of isolation can spring from the experience of 
a spiritual light that is as yet beyond our capacity to receive. All the 
spiritual. faculties of the soul are irresistably drawn inward without. 
however, knowing what it is that is attracting them, and are thereby 
unable to "pay attention" to anything without. The soul can neither 
bear God within, who is inaccessible light, nor find comfort or compan- 
ionship outside itself. It is in a spiritual desert and, as it were, 
crucified between heaven and earth. All that can be done is simply to 
wait upon the Lord until the passive purification has run its full course. 


"Let him sit alone and in silence, when it is laid upon him. Let him 
put his mouth to the dust; there may yet be hope " (Lam. 3:28-29). 

At last, the desert will bear fruit, and in the wilderness water 
will flow from the rock. In proportion to the vastness of the solitude 
and isolation experienced, sowill be the joy of communion with God and 
all creation. Solitude is here transformed into a profound solidarity 
with all that is. "For those who enter into the absolute relationship 
with God, nothing 'particular' retains any importance; neither things, 
nor beings, neither earth nor heaven, but everything is inc l uded in the 
relationship. Everything is seen in God. To have nothing besides God 
but to grasp everything in Him, that is the perfect relationship." 10 

One is amazed to find that those who have entered most deeply into 
solitude have also entered most intensely into solidarity with all human- 
kind. The Russian hermit (Poustinik) of old had no latch on his door 
manifesting that he was not there for himself but for others. Our 
Western tradition has the marvelous example of Dame Julian of Norwich. 
The English anchorite affectionately refers to her "fellow Christians" 
many times in her writings. "If I pay special attention to myself, I 
am nothing at all; but in general I am in the unity of love with all my 
fellow Christians. For it is in this unity of love that the life consists 
of all men who will be saved." 11 This quality of "relationship" is 
the hinge that links together solitude and community; for when alone we are not 
inclined to introspection but rather drawn out of ourselves toward God 
in loving self- transcendence. In community, this very same self-tran- 
scendent relationship with God must bear fruit in self-giving, loving 
service to others. Thus love is neither self-seeking in solitude nor 
in community, but burrows out a great space in our hearts for God and all 
the world to enter. There is a tremendous difference on this point be- 
tween Christianity and Buddhism (and the many meditation techniques flow- 
ing from it). Buddhism and its derivatives can lead to the unifica- 
tion of the soul in its center (an intermediate goal), but it can never 
lead the unified being further into that supremely personal encounter 
with the supremely personal God. All mystical doctrines outside of 
Christianity seem to be based on this gigantic delusion — of the human 
spirit bent back upon itself >but the Christian contemplative, even in her seclusion ii 
intimately present to God, to the Church and to the entire world. Her 
very being is a plea for the salvation of all humankind. 

In our communities, we can imitate Christ who was not a hermit, 
but lived among men as we do. Jesus did withdraw for frequent periods of solitary 
communion with his Father and we too can do this without necessarily 
altering our community structures or even building hermitages! For the 
Constitutions state: "A nun should willingly return to the solitude of 
her cell when duties^ work or obedience do not require her presence else- 
where " (LCM #58). Ingenuity will find many hidden places perfect for 
time alone with God, in the garden or elsewhere . And we always have, as 
St. Catherine tells us that "interior cell of the heart" from which we 
need never depart. "When your prayer has gained such stability that it 
keeps you always face to face with God in your heart, you will have 
seclusion without being a recluse. For what does it really mean to be a 


recluse? It means that your mind, enclosed in the heart, stands before 
God in reverence and feels no desire to occupy itself with anything 
else " 12 (Theophan the Recluse). 

In our communities there will also be a certain diversity with 
some members needing more solitude and others more togetherness. All 
the members, however, "live in community so as to protect one another's 
solitude both from deteriorating into loneliness and from being in- 
fringed upon by misguided togetherness." 13 We are the guardians of 
each other's solitude both to the right and to the left. 

Finally, we are essentially a pilgrim people, so that no matter 
to what extent our communion with God and one another grows, it will 
never be complete in this life. There will always remain a strong 
sense of eschatological longing for the fullness that is not yet. 'For 
here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which _s to come " 
(Heb . 13:14). 

I would like to conclude with a short meditation of Father Karl 
Rahner. It is much like a lyric hymn from which we might take the theme 
for our own lives. 



future has 

come into our time. 




d az z 1 

e s us, 

s o 

mu c 

h so that we think 

it is night. 


it is 

a blessed 

nigh t 

; a n i 


wh ich is alrea 

dy fill 

ed with warmth 



; full 



y and 

mysterious and protective 

because of th 

e eternal 

day wh 

i ch 

it carries 

in i 

t s 

d ark womb . 

It is 

a holy night, 

if we 


the ho 

] y 

silence of 


n i 

ght into our inwar 

dness, if our 


s too 




by n i 

ght . 


e are lonel 

y. There is an inner 

count ry in our 


wh ere 

we are a 1 


, wh ere no 

one but 

God can dwell 


e question 

i s 


whe th e r we 


not avoid 

i t in f 

ear. . .bee au s e 

no one and 

no part of 

all that we 


s t 

in on earth 

can go 

there with us 


mu s t 


sof ti- 

ly an 

d close th 

e d 

oor behind 

us . Th 

ere we must listen 

to th 

e un i q 

ll e 

mu sic 

p lay e 

d in 


e silence o 

f the n 

igh t wh ere the 

quiet and 





to the 

God of its 

heart . 

There it sing 

s its 

softest an 


mo s t 

inwa r d 

mu s 

i c . 

It k n ow s 

that Go 

d is listening 

as i 

t sin 

gs. C 


is c 1 

o s e to 

u s , 

a n 

d the word 

of love 

, the softest 


in th 

e noiseless 


of th 

e h uman 

heart, reaches th 

e ear and heart of 

God. " 





1. Ward, Sr. Benedicta, SLG, "The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers" 1977 
(Oxford, SLG Press), p. 22 

2. Abbott, Walter M. , S.J., "The Documents of Vatican II", (Guild Press, 
New York, 1966), p. 77 

3. Op. cit., pg. 471 

4. Sacred Congregation for Religious, "Instruction on the Contemplative 
Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns," (United States Catholic Conference 
1969), p. 1 

5. Jordan of Saxony, "On the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers", 
(Parable, USA, 1982), p. 2 

6. Op. cit., p. 3 

7. Cf. Guardini, "Freedom and Grace", (Pantheon Books, New York) 

8. Teresa of Avila, "The Way of Perfection", Translation by the Bene- 
dictines of Stanbrook, (London, Thomas Baker, 1919), p. 14 

9. Johnston, William, S.J., "Christian Mysticism Today". (Harper and Row, 
San Francisco, 1984), p. 153 

10. Buber, Martin, "I and Thou", (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 
1970). p. 127 

11. Julian of Norwich. "Showings". Translated by Edmond Colledge. O.S.A. 
and James Walsh. S.J. in Classics of Western Spirituality. (Paulist 
Press, New York. 1978). p. 134 

12. Ware, Timothy. "The Art of Prayer". (Faber and Faber Limited, London, 
1966), p. 252 

13. Steindle-Rast , David, O.S.B., "Contemplative Community", (Cistercian 
Publications) Consortium Press, Washington, D.C., 1972), p. 300 

14. Rahner, Karl, S.J., "Meditations on Hope and Love", (Seabury Press, 
New York, 1977), p. 72 



Veritas , the motto of the Dominican Order, carries 
and direct message for each member of the Order, 
directed to Dominican contemplative nuns is a very 
demanding one. Was it not intimate and demanding 
all as the One who came to reveal to mankind the t 
head even to the mystery of the inner life of the 
Persons? Only Jesus, as God-man and divine Son of 
able to do this. He 'was made flesh' and took on 
human person so that he might teach humanity the w 
expressed his humanity in a very concrete way by s 
out of thirty three years in a hidden life of labo 
the will of his Father. At the end of his life, w 
with apparent failure, he spoke eloquently of trut 
discourse at the Last Supper. Let us look at the 
to St. John to see what Jesus has to say of truth. 

Sister Mary Joseph, O.P, 
Los Angeles 

with it a special 
That message, as 

in t ima te yet 
for Christ, above 
ruth of the God- 
Trinity of Divine 

the Father wa s 
the ways of a 
ays of God . He 
pending thirty 
r, accomplishing 
hen he was faced 
h in his final 
Gospel according 

During his public life Jesus had told the Jews who believed in him: 
"If you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciples, 
you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free" (John 8:45-46; 
Elsewhere in this episode he had spoken of the devil as the father of 
lies, of whom he said: "He was a murderer from the beginning, he was 
never grounded in the truth" (John 8:44). The contrast is evident. 
To his own, his chosen ones at the Supper, and to us Christ says even 
to this day: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come 
to the Father except through me" (Johnl4:6). 


developed his thought further when 

he explicitly gave his reason 

for leaving his disciples: "Still I must 

tell you the truth: it is for 

your own good that I am going because unl 

ess I go, the Advocate, the 


of truth, will not come to you, bu 

t if I go, I will send him 

to you 

" (John 16:7). About the Advocate, 

his own Spirit, he said 

further: "When the Advocate comes, whom I 

shall send from the Father, 

the Sp 

irit of truth who issues from the F 

ather, he will be my witness" 


15:26). The oneness and continuity 

of truth comes from the 


through Jesus as the revelation of 

God in man and is continued 

in the 

Spirit. Thus Jesus could speak of 

himself as the truth and 

the Sp 

irit as the one who would continue 

to make the truth revealed 

in the 

mystery of the God-man known. 

In his 

priestly prayer Jesus prayed for h 

is disciples: "I am not asking 

you to 

remove them from the world, but to 

protect them from the evil 

one . 

They do not belong to the world any 

more than I belong to the 

world . 

Consecrate them in the truth; your 

word is truth" (John 17:15-1' 

His disciples must be protected from the 

falsity of evil which the 


promotes and the world often enshrines. But Jesus first of all 

consecrates himse'lf , "so that they too may be consecrated in truth" 


17:19). The note in the Jerusalem 

Bible on the verb 'consecrate' 

reads : 

"The verb means literally: 'to set 

aside for, dedicate to God', 

'To sanctify (in the original sense of th 

e word)'". Jesus, and his 

dis cip 

les after him, must be dedicated to 

the work of truth in some 

way . 

We, as Dominican cloistered contemp 

latives, each in her own 


way, is sent out of self into the 

heart of Christ, the truth, 

and th 

rough him into the heart of the Church to serve truth in what- 

ever way he wills. Only our holiness, th 

e holiness of the truth, our 


self giving will be productive in and through him. Mary will 


always be our concrete example. Mary's faith was constant and grew 
gradually in depth from her first fertile 'fiat' to her momentous 
'stabat' on Calvary. 

"The Spirit teaches all truth" (John 16:13). Every truth, whether 
natural or supernatural, really comes from the First Truth, God him- 
self in the Trinity of Persons. All that the Creator made was good, 
was part of truth. Scripture is the font of all truth and it will 
never be exhausted in expressing that truth. The Church will always 
be lifting out hidden truths that were always there. God has also 
put his truth within each of us, like a hidden tresury, and we must 
'dig' to unearth it. We must study, meditate, pray and contemplate. 
We must apply our minds and hearts to the work of our san ctifi cation 
in whatever way, position, work, capacity or incapacity we may find 
ourselves. There we must serve in love and obedience. There we will 
find the truth . 

In Lume 

all tru 
with hi 
and enr 
the six 
feet ex 
that is 
truth e 
the tru 
with th 

n G_e 
of t 

th a 
of t 
> be 
to b 
d by 
th o 
e de 

n t ium 

he f ai 
them t 
nd giv 
s i t w 
ruth 1 
th doc 
i ty to 
se of 
ing en 
ear pe 
nee it 

we r ead : 
thf ul as 
o their a 
es it uni 

and char 
ith his f 
eading th 
ument of 

truth of 
free dom . 
dowe d wit 
rson resp 
e and a Is 
re ligious 

is known 
of truth. 

"The Spi 

ri t 

dwe lis 

in the Church 


d in the 

in a t em 


He p 

rays in them and 

b ears 

dop t ion 


son s . 

He leads the Church into 

ty in communion an 

d se rvi ce . He 


dows it 


gifts, directs it by their 

means , 

ruits . " 



we find the action of the 

e Church 


to the 

whole of truth 


And in 

the Council 

, Dignitatis Humanae, 


e personal 

each human 


is expressed 


the per- 

"In accord 

ance wi 

th their dignity 

as persons, 

h reason 


d free 

will and there 

fore privi- 

onsib ility , 

that a 

11 men should 


at once 

o b ound 


a moral 

ob ligation to 

seek the 



ey are 

also bound to 


ere to 

and to 


er their whole lives 



" (2) 

Our own St. Thomas Aquinas gives us the essence of truth when he says: 
"Contemplation is a simple vision, a spiritual intuition of the divine 
truth." (3) And he goes on to explain: "If then, anyone studies merely 
to know and not that he may become better and increase in the love of 
God, he must realize that he is living the contemplative life not in 
the theological but only in the philosophical sense." Truth must be 
experienced and as true contemp latives we are to "taste and see that 
the Lord is sweet" (Ps. 33). 

Meister Eckhart in his commentary on Genesis says: "Christ, the Truth 
himself in parabolical fashion in the Gospel both gives moral instruc- 
tion and also transmits the general roots of profound hidden truths 
to those who have 'ears to hear'". (4) We all know how St. Catherine 
in her great love ,for the Church followed in the footsteps of our holy 
Father St. Dominic in upholding truth and sound doctrine. (5) 

Forever will Mary, our Mother, be our concrete example in her devotion 
to truth. In her cry s tal- clear soul she refracted the pure rays of 
faith and love that she received from the Godhead and then reflected 
the truth she received as the moon reflects the light of the sun. 
Only Mary, our Mother, could have shown such queenliness in her hunil- 
ity and such humility in her queenliness as Mother of the Truth. 

St. Paul urges us all: "You must speak the truth to one another, since 
we are all parts of one another" (Eph.4:25). 


All Scripture quotations are from the Jerusalem Bible 

(1) Lumen Gentium Ch. 1, Nos. 4 and 12 

(2) Dignitatis Human ae Ch. 1 

(3) St. Thomas Aquinas ST 11 - Ilia q. 180 a 1 

(4) Meister Eckhart Commentary on Genesis , translation from Latin Works 

(5) St. Catherine of Siena Truth Nos. 98 - 100, p. 184 
and Letter No. 64, p. 121 Cavallini; 

Prayer 8 in Suzanne Noffke, O.P., English translation 


The Father's Word is my music 

His Masterpiece my Art 

His Poem of single Word 

My inspiration 

The lilting joy of my heart 

Sing through me Song of the Father 

Utter in me Your Love 

Mirror Yourself in my barren heart 

Shine through me, Mystic Love. 

Sister Mary of the Holy Spirit, O.P, 
Menlo Park 



Sr. Mary Thomas, Buffalo 

Followership in a dance: this is how I see , Communio* and 'Missio, 1 
those two musical words, so rhythmic, so contrasting. 'Communio' is a 
word to lean into, a word which, lengthening into a murmur, gives rest. 
'Missio,' on the contrary, strikes sparks, flashes upon your inward ear 
and impels you to movement. Or if you see them in color, 'Communio' gives 
off cool tones — pensive blue, quiet gray-green, a touch of deep rose, the 
heart of violet. 'Missio' vibrates, startles with its scarlet, flame-orange, 
sun-gold overtones. They go well together, these two: there must be move- 
ment, infinite movement in this dance, and there must be eternal repose. 

What is followership? An illusive art, a subtle science. If you love to 
dance, you will know at once what it is. You will know what it means to 
fit your every movement to the movement of another, until you move as one. 
Dancing alone, interpreting, you bend to the music's rhythm, even sheerly to 
the flow of the image in your heart. In the delight of a square dance, you 
are drawn to the center of the pattern, then flung out to its limits like a 
flower petal, deeply responsive to the caller's voice. Dancing is an authen- 
tic expression of followership and, pursuing this concept, followership is 
gradually perceived to be in a sense the creator of leadership, for how can 
there be a leader without a follower? 

'Communio' and 'Missio,' those underlying currents in our life, drawing us 
to our center, sending us forth "to the ends of the earth," (l) then calling 
in the voyaging heart once more, are carefully delineated in our Basic Consti- 
tution. Number V unfolds them with deceptive brevity, leaving us to explore 
them in depth if we so choose. 

"Withdrawn from the world ...." (2) It is good to step back far enough to 
encompass the entire world in mind and heart, to try to see it through the 
eyes of God. "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was 
very good." (3) Already, for a brief moment, we may enter into the joy of our 

As the Creator loves his creation, 
so creation loves the Creator. 

Creation, of course, 

was fashioned to be adorned, 

to be showered, 

to be gifted with the love of 
' the Creator. 

The entire world has been embraced 
by this kiss. (4) 


Glance at the sun. 

See the moon and the stars. 

Gaze at the beauty of earth's greenings. 


What delight 

God gives 

to human kind 

with all these things. 

Who gives all these shining, wonderful 
gifts, if not God? (5) 

Continuing to gaze, we see the dark shadow of evil falling across this prime- 
val world. "And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh 
had corrupted their way upon the earth." (6) In the light of God's unchanging 
love, we trace the swift course of the Son "coming forth as a bridegroom" (?) 
for the rescuing and warming and nourishing of our world, for its re-creation 
and ultimate glory. Even now, before the "eager longing of creation" (8) can 
be fulfilled, we may rediscover "the dearest freshness deep down things," (9) 
and know in unfaltering faith that the Spirit of God 

". . . . over the bent 
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." (lO) 

So fair a world, and shall we withdraw? But the gift is for the Giver, and 
would tell us, itself, of its lovely littleness, that we might prize it all 
the more, as Juliana prizes the hazel-nut in the palm of her hand — all that 
is made. "I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have 
fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding, 'It 
lasteth, and ever shall last for that God loveth it.'" (ll) Here, ultimate- 
ly, we find the reason for withdrawal: "It needeth us to have knowing of the 
littleness of creatures and to naughten all thing that is made, for to love 
and have God that is unmade." (12) In calling us to withdraw from the world, 
"Love is his meaning." (13) 

The dance goes on, weaving a pattern in deft agility. Hither and yon, to 
the left, to the right, inward, outward, in stillness, in motion, "they seek 
God." (14) 'Communio:' in enclosure and silence, searching the Scriptures, 
instant in prayer, God is sought. 'Missio:' working with their hands, doing 
ready penance, in purity of conscience and the joy of sisterly concord, in 
"the freedom of the Spirit," (15) it is God who is sought. 

"Freedom of the Spirit seems the key phrase here. It is the freedom of the 
Spirit which makes for the essential contrasts in our life, the interplay of 
varying factors building up to one harmonious whole. 'Communio* and 'Missio' 
are reflections of the one God who calls, the triune God who is sought. 

Enclosure and silence are mysterious concepts for us, and for all the world. 
Perhaps it is because they are incomplete, quite unfinished in themselves, 


and their reaching out for fulfillment is like an unanswered question or an 
empty hand. Because of this quality they tell us truly that they can never 
be our goal, that we must look beyond them, that their role is simply to 
point the way. This is not to deny the importance of their role: only when 
we move as they direct us, do we discover their deepest values. Enclosure 
makes it possible for us to journey beyond the world's edge, to leave space 
behind and to discover experientially that "our citizenship is in heaven. "(l6) 
Silence, when freely chosen, is again a guiding angel: 

Elected Silence, sing to me 
And beat upon my whorled ear; 
Pipe me to pastures still , and be 
The music that I care to hear. (17) 

Searching the Scriptures must be done with "an eager heart," (18) one open 
through a habitual attitude of prayer, and ready to be filled. Intimated 
here is the fine instrument of monastic study, designed to train the whole 
person, mind, heart., imagination, to a precision of aim variously known as 
detachment or discipline. As in other contexts, we will find what we seek, 
and our searching is to be truly God ward. 

There is a sharing in all of this. Together we live enclosed and silent, 
together we study, read, pray. 'Communio' reaches its deepest when it brings 
us together in God as we dwell in unity in his house. 

The work of the hands, the ready penance, the purity of conscience and the joy 
of sisterly concord point to our 'Missio,' our mission of service to one an- 
other and to God in the Church. 

Work of the hands need not designate manual labor exclusively: we conceive 
of work as the endeavor of the whole person, engaged in whatever activities 
may call forth our total human effort to collaborate, so to speak, in God's 
own creative activity — to bring healing and health to others, to strengthen 
their spiritual vitality with whatever resources have been given us, to 
evoke their awareness of their own potentialities through our spontaneous 
articulation of beauty and truth. There are no limits to the extent of this 
service. The "work of our hands" may precede us to the city gates and far 
beyond, since it is God who defines our borders, and he is infinite lar- 

Nor is there any pre-set limit to "ready penance," which may well mean, pre- 
dominantly, our readiness for whatever may befall. Real penance is not con- 
trived; it need not be sought after; it is built-in. The operative word is 
"ready." This is intimately linked with purity of conscience, and out of 
this blend flows the "joy of sisterly concord" which is, as it were, the 
crowning peak of this progression. It is the definitive wedding of •Commu- 
nio' and 'Missio.' , 

Delightful is the thought of a wedding here. It relieves the mind and heart, 
perhaps at one time constrained by a concept of 'Communio* and 'Missio' as 
two opposites, tugging at us and dividing our loyalties. Martha was so 
filled with love, Mary's activity went so deep. We need both, to become 
whole, and we need them precisely in the measure designed by our unique vo- 


cation. If it has been suggested that action is for this life and contem- 
plation for the next, we may also recall that there is in our midst an 
interpenetration of both worlds: God's eternity distilled for us in the 
droplet of our now. Here, we may rest. There, we may enter into the dance 
depicted by our brother Blessed Fra Angelico, joining hands in fields bright 
with small flowers, following steps now unimaginable to us. 

The deep communion lived within a monastery cannot fail to bear witness, for 
the whole Church, to the joy received through grace in this life and leading 
to glory in the future. Charity leads to fruitfulness, hidden now but to 
shine forth later, when we shall all be gathered by the Spirit from the four 
corners of the earth and brought together as a purchased people into the holy 
city. 'Communio' and 'Missio* will have found their ultimate fulfillment in 
this final movement of return to the center, where "God shall be all in 
all." (19) 








Bas. Const. 



























pkins , Poems 


) ib 

(11) Juliana of Norwich: Revelations 
of Divine Love 

(12) ib. 

(13) ^. 

(14) LCM, Bas. Const. SV 

15) ib. 

16) Phil. 3:20 

(l?) Gerard Manley Hopkins, Foem: 

(18) LCM, Bas. Const. SV 

(19) I Cor. 15:28 



In the garden of tomorrow 
Shall my memory linger on, 
Like the fragrance of the flowers 
Vv'hen the evening light has gone? 

Shall remembrance of my kindness, 
Of the things I've said and done, 
Guild the golden halls of memory, 
Like the light of setting sun? 

Shall my footprints trace a pathway 
For some weary pilgrim's weary feet, 
Through this vale of earthly shadows 
To the glistening mountain peaks? 

Where the mists of Time dispersing, 
There shall break upon the sight 
Vision blest of Home Eternal, 
And God's everlasting light? 

Sr. Mary Rose Dominic Of Jesus O.P, 



-5r. Mary Margaret of the Trinity O.P 


God said to Abram, "Leave your country, your family and your 
father's house for the land I will show you."(l ) Abram obeyed. When 
Abram was ninety— nine years old, God made His covenant with him. He 
changed his name to Abraham and told him he would be the father of many 
nations. The chancing of his name signified the changing of his destiny. 
Abraham remained faithful to God and His covenant and when God put him to 
the test commanding the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, Abraham immediately 
set out to fulfill the command. At the crucial moment, God intervened 
and blessed Abraharr for his obedience: "I will shower blessings on you; 
I will make your descendants as many as the sta::s of heaven anc the grains 
of sand on the seashore ."( 2 ) 5cripture thus reveals the drama of a voca- 
tion, a call from God, yes, but also a call to fidelity. 

The call of God to souls never ceases. Does not "the fidelity 
of the Lord remain forever"?(3) Could the crisis in the area of vocations 
find its source in a lack of fidelity on our part to correspond with God's 
terms of the covenant, namely, "Se perfect as also your heavenly Father is 
perfect"? (4) 

As a springboard for launching out into the deep on the problem 
of vocations, let us simply cite a key paragraph in our Constitutions: 
"Since the hope of the monastery depends greatly upon the successful for- 
mation of the Sisters, care must be diligently taken that those who desire 
to follow Christ in our way of life may be led to the fullness of the 
cloistered life." (5) A prayerful study of this text will indicate a 
marked crescendo in the dynamics of this statement reaching its "fortissimo" 
at the word "fullness." 

What is the fullness of cloistered life if not contemplative life? 
If our aim be directed to "cloistered" life rather than "contemplative" life, 
undoubtedly we shall fall short of our goal for we will be aiming at the 
means rather than the end. Fullness is synonymous with perfection. Perfec- 
tion is positive. Therefore only a positive striving after perfection in 
all its aspects anc details of our contemplative life can satisfy this full- 
ness which those who come to us in their search for union with God have a 
right to find in our monasteries. Can we satisfy this right with a mediocre 
observance? with using "loopholes" in the letter? with depreciation rather 
than appreciation of such safeguards of contemplative life as enclosure, 
silence, communal prayer, regular observance etc.? or by making dispensa- 
tion the rule rather than the exception to it? If we find ourselves guilty 
of these negative qualities, let us be honest and admit that we are failing 
in our part of the "covenant." 

While examining our "community conscience" on this question, we 
might ask ourselves if we really draw the wherewithal to nourish and sustain 


our candidates in their search for God from Him in prayer. Is the motto, 
"To contemplate and tc give to others the fruits of contemplation" a 
truism in our monastic life? 

Perhaps a fitting conclusion to these thoughts on the crisis of 
vocations is no. 55 of Pope Paul's apostolic exhortation " Qn Renewal of 
the Religious Life according to the teaching of 5econd Vatican Council" 
(June 29, 1971 ): 

"The joy of always belonging to God is an incompar- 
able fruit of the Holy Spirit, and one which you have already 
tasted. Filled kith the joy which Christ will preserve in 
you even in the rridst of trial, learn to face the future with 
confidence. To tne extent that this joy radiates from your 
communities, it will be a proof to everyone that the state of 
life which you have chosen is helping you by the threefold 
renunciation of _.3ur religious profession to realize the 
greatest possible expansion of your life in Christ. Seeing 
you and the life you lead, the young will be able to under- 
stand well the acpaal that Jesus never ceases to make among 
them. The Council, in fact, brings this to mind: 'The exam- 
ple of your life constitutes the finest recommendation of the 
institute and tha most effective invitation to embrace religious 
life. '(6) There is no doubt, moreover, that by showing you pro- 
found esteem and great affection, bishops, priests, parents and 
Christian educators will awaken in many the desire to follow in 
your footsteps, in response to that call of Jesus which never 
ceases to be heard among His followers." 

"Again the angel of the Lord called from heaven to Abraham and 
said, 'I swear by myself, says the Lord, since you have done this and have 
not withheld your only son I will indeed blass you, and you will surely 
multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, as the sands on the sea- 
shore. Your descendants shall possess the gates of their enemies. In 
your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because 
you have obeyed me'." (7) 


"... and in your descendants all the nations of the earth 
shall find blessing — all this because you obeyed my command." (8) 

Mary, true daughter of Abraham, sang in joy of the fulfillment 
which her immortal 'Fiat' set in motion: "He has upheld Israel his ser- 
vant, ever mindful of his mercy; even as he promised our fathers, promised 
Abraham and his descendants forever." (9) 

"Fiat!" "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum." She could have used 
other words, but she cid not. With quiet deliberation flowing from her 
pure, virginal heart, Mary (ever our "leading Lady") bowed in acquiescence 
to the Will of Him who was at once her Creator, her Redeemer, her Sancti- 
fier — her Father, her Son, her Spouse. "Be it done to me according to 
Thy word. "(10) The promise of Redemption was bursting forth into bloom 
as a bud opens its petals to the light of the sun. 


"Fiat!" This is a word to be pondered for it is a key word in 
the vocabulary of every contemplative and a dominant note in the great 
symphony of religious life. "Mary treasured all these things and reflec- 
ted on them in her heart." (11) What things? The Word of God in the 
writings of the prophets and psalmist, the mysteries in the life of her 
Son, the Word-made-flesh, unfolding daily before her eyes — truly this Korc 
was God's own Divine Son and her Son too. Mary contemplated His conception, 
His birth, the words of Simeon, the finding of her Child in the temple, and 
later, His life at Nazareth, His teaching, His miracles, His passion, death, 
resurrection and ascension to the Father. It is because she uttered her 
'fiat' that we are enabled to ponder in our hearts these mysteries also. 

"Fiat!" We also make this word our own as the "yes" to the 
daily manifestations of God's Will in our lives. Hewn from the rock 
of Dominic, we too must utter only the truth and the spoken "yes" must 
become e reality. "None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord' will enter 
the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the Will of my Father 
in heaven." (12) And so the spoken fiat is above all a word to be 

"Fiat!" This word is fittingly the key to salvation history. 
The creation of the universe, the world and mankind was accomplished by 
the "Fiat" of their Creator. As related in Genesis, when God said His 
"Let it be" so it was done. The fiat of Mary at the Incarnation brought 
to mankind its Savior and Redeemer whose whole life as Son of God-made- 
man was one fiat to the Will of His Heavenly Father. "The Dne who sent 
me is with me. He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases 
Him." (13) 

"Fiat!" " Cons ummat urn est! Now it is finished!" (14) The su- 
preme sacrifice on the altar of the cross merited for a fallen race the 
supreme gift of its Redemption. God, as it were, hastens to meet His 
prodigal children to clothe them with the heavenly gift of adoption into 
His kingdom of light, of peace, of love, of eternal happiness. 

"Fiat!" We do well to ponder these words of Lumen Gentium re- 
garding Mary's fiat and the part it played in our Redemption: "The Fa- 
ther of Mercies willed that the consent of the predestined Mother should 
precede the Incarnation, so that, just as a woman contributed to death, 
so also a woman should contribute to life. . . . She gave to the world 
that very Life which renews all things. . . . She devoted herself to- 
tally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work, of her Son. In 
subordination and along with Him, by thn grace of Almighty God, she 
served in the mystery of Redemption." (15) Parallel to these words are 
those of our Constitution: "Among the counsels the vow of obedience is 
outstanding , that vow by which a person consecrates herself wholly to 
God, ana whose acts approach more closely to the end of our profession, 
which is the perfection of charity. By this the nuns share in thair own 
way in the work of our Redemption, following the. example of the Handmaid 
of the Lord, who through her obedience was made the cause of salvation 
for herself and for the whole human race. (St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haere- 
ses III, 22,4)" (16) 


"Fiat!" This one word encompasses and integrates every phase 
and aspect of our lives making of them a living prayer to the Father in 
Christ through the intercession and example of Mary. Every joy, sorrow, 
failure, success, sickness, health, and even death itself is made holy 
and filled with love by a ceaseless 'fiat.' 


We come to the third element of this "mini" trilogy intro- 
duced by the successor of St. Peter toaay. He speaks to our hearts: 
"It is especailly in Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, 
that religious life comes to understand itself most deeply and find its 
sign of certain hope. . . . Mary showed throughout her life all those 
values to which religious consecration is directed. She is Mother of 
religious in being Mother of Him who was consecrated and sent, and in 
her 'fiat' and 'magnificat' religious life finds the totality of its 
surrender to and the thrill of its joy in the consecratory action of 
God." These words of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to religious 
mark the rhythm of our religious contemplative life as a baton in the 
skilled hands of the maestro. 

"Mary showed throughout her life all those values to which 
religious consecration is directed." This sentence from the above 
cited quotation sets the tempo of the following notes on monastic values. 

Thomas Merton D.C.5.0. concluded his treatise on the "Basic 
Principles of Monastic Spirituality" with the words: "In the night of 
our technological barbarism, monks must be as trees which exist silently 
in the dark and by their vital presence purify the air." (17) This 
statement vividly portrays the raison d'etre of the monastic calling 
which is no small challenge in contemporary society. 

Society is in turmoil and the human heart is restless. The 
cause of this restlessness is a failure in some respects to understand 
and pursue a truly human goal in its most authentic sense. St. Augustine 
described it well: "You have made us for Yourself, D Lord, and our hearts 
are restless until they rest in You." Today the pace of life is ever 
more rapid and noise fills every moment with distractions of every sort. 
Unless God is the sought after end of the human journey that journey is 
misdirected and the human person does not reach his or her full capacity 
in God. When the conscious goal is atheistic materialism, science, 
politics and even violence become powerful means. Perhaps this is what 
Father Merton meant when he labeled this age the "night of our techno- 
logical barbarism." 

In contrast, the psalmist compares the just man to a "tree 
planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in due season. "(18) 
Here is the contemplative ideal, that monastic rt trees" watered by the river 


of divine grace should "exist silently in the dark and by their vital 
presence purify the air," of alien and destructive elements. As con- 
templatives we need always to assess our values and keep our eyes fixed 
on the true goal so as to use aright the traditional means given to us. 

Some of the values proposed for our consideration at the West 
Springfield meeting in June 1 962 — prayer/work, silence/community, 
sclitude/hospitality — at first glance seem polarized and a common 
denominator must be found to reconcile one with the other. The solution 
is simple. We have only to turn to the basic values of religious life 
to find the answer, namely, the evangelical counsels based on the theo- 
logical virtues. From these flow the very ones chosen for this review. 

Prayer and Work: Prayer and work are united in an obedience 
based on faith. "When you pray, pray thus: Our Father . . . your Will 
be done . . . ."(19) "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lore, shell en- 
ter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the Will of My Father 
who is in heaven." (20) Is there a better praye: than that uttered by 
Mary at the Annunciation, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done 
to me according to Thy Word"?(21 ) So fruitful was the prayer of her 
life that her grace-filled soul drew down from Heaven the very Son of 
God. In these instances and rrany more can be found the reconciliation 
of prayer and work through obedience based on faith. The vowed reli- 
gious merits doubly by every act of religion: the merit of obedience 
and the merit of the virtue of religion. Her life is a prayer, her 
prayer is her life. "To contemplate" (prayer); "to give to others the 
fruits of contemplation" (work). 

Silence and Community: At the heart of all silence is that 
interior silence that cries out "Nescivi" — the emptiness of all that 
would clamor in the heart and take possession of one's soul, rather than 
fill the void with Him Who Is. "Be still and know that I am God." (22) 
Be still with the silence of nothingness. Our Heavenly Father told our 
sister, St. Catherine, "I am He Who Is, you are she who is not." This 
is possessing the poverty of nothingness. A poor religious, i.e., a 
religious endowed with the riches of poverty, possesses all things for 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (23) 
Small wonder then, that St. Thomas Aquinas requested for his reward from 
the Lord, "Nothing but Thyself, Lord." Isaias tells us, "In silence and 
in hope your strength lies." (24) The silent religious loses her identity 
in her community for her life, hidden with Christ in God in the silence 
of her communion with her Beloved, is enveloped by the communal family 
of which she is a part since she loses her 'self in her zeal for the 
common good. 

Solitude and Hospitality: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious 
and upset about many things. One thing only is necessary; Mary has cho- 
sen the better poiition and she shall not be deprived of it." (25) Mary 
is portrayed as the contemplative totally absorbed in the solitude of 
contemplating the Master. Solitude is not mere aloneness but an alone- 
ness with God. This was Mary's choice; this is supposedly the choice of 
everyone entering the contemplative life in a monastery. Mary's soli- 
tude was her hospitality for she centered her entire attention on her 
Lord and Master while Martha served but with the anxiety of the many 
things to divide her attention. Would we say Mary was less hospitable 


because she sat at the Master's feet while Martha served? The Lord did 
not think so. It was Martha he chided when she complained about her 
sister. Another example we might cite is that of Our Blessed Mother, 
who, after she heard of her cousin's pregnancy in her old age, immedi- 
ately set out into the hill country to visit Elizabeth and help her in 
her need. 5urely no one was more absorbed in contemplation in the 
solitude of her heart, now the tabernacle of her God and Son, than Mary, 
the handmaid of the Lord, serving Him in the person of her aged cousin. 
These two examples of charity from which flowec a chaste love for God 
and neighbor are not beyond imitation in monastic living. One need not 
leave the monastery to find solitude or practice hospitality. 

In summary, prayer and work are unitec in an obedience based 
on faith; silence and community are fused in poverty founded on hope; 
solitude and hospitality are wedded in chastity rooted in charity. It 
will be for the individual to "seek (God) in secret, to ponder and pray, 
so that the word which has come forth from the routh of God may not re- 
turn to Him void, but may prosper in those things for which He sent it." 
(26) To glean the riches of these values in our Dominican contemplative 
life, then, we must study them in the light of Truth, the Word of God, 
Who said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (27) 

Reverting to Merton's "Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality" 
(cf.17) we conclude this trilogy: "In our age in which everyone else is 
carried away with the exigencies of a great cultural and political 
struggle, the monk has, as his primary function, the duty to be a monk — 
to be a man of God, that is to say, a man who lives by and for God alone. 
Only by doing this can the monk preserve what is rich and vital in his 
monastic and Christian tradition. In order to be what he is meant to be, 
the monk must rise above the common ethical level of humanitarian pagan- 
ism, and live the 'theological' life centered on God, a life of pure 
faith, of hope in God's providence, of charity in the Holy Spirit. He 
must live in the 'Mystery of Christ'." ' 



Gen. 12:1 11)Luke 2 1 1 9,51 19)Matt. 6:10 

Gen. 22i17 12)Matt. 7i21 20)Matt. 7l21 

Pe. 116:2 13)John B:29 21 )Luke 1i3B 

Matt. 5:4B 14)John 19:30 22)Ps. 46:10 

1971 LCM #11B 51 15)LurnBn Gentium #56 23)Matt. 5»3 

Perfectae Caritatie #24 16)1971 LCM #24 SI 24)Ib. 30:15 

Gen. 22:15-18 17)DB8ic Principles of Monastic 25)Luke 10:41,42 
Gen. 22:16 Spirituality by Thomas Merton , 26 ) 1 971 LCM, Basic Consti- 

Luke 2:54,55 O.C.S.O. Abbey of Gethsemene , tution of Nuns #1 SII 

Luke 1 i 38 ' copyright 1957 27) John 14:5 

1B)Pb. 1:3 


Mary ' s Answer 

Mary, when Gabriel uttered God's sublime request, 
To your divine Maternity, you meekly answered, "Yes". 
So hold Him in your arms, and never let Him go: 

"I must; for Jesus came to save the world, you know. 

Mary, did not the ancient prophets one and all 
Foretell what dreadful things the Savior would befall? 
And did not Simeon warn that sorrow would be thine? 

"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; His Will is mine." 

Mother, see these tender tiny hands and feet; 
This little curly head, this baby smile, so sweet. 
Won't you be sad to watch this lovely infant grow? 

'The marks of toil, his likeness to ourselves must show." 

Is it not sad that He must leave your sweet abode? 
To seek His sheep through every rough and rugged road? 
Would you not spare Him all this loneliness and pain? 

"No! I would share them with Him, o'er and o'er again." 

This helpless babe now clings to you so trustfully; 

God wills that helpless you must stand beside the tree; 

And when He says, "behold Thy Son," what will you say? 

"Into my broken Heart, all men must find their way." 

"For gladly I accept the task of motherhood 
which Jesus gave to me when by His Cross I stood; 
Nor shall I ever leave Christ's Mystic Self alone 
until in you, His members, Christ's Life is fully grown. 

(By Sister Regina Marie Gentry, OP) 
Syracuse, New York 




Curupira ! do Tuba was born January 22, 1901 in the village of Carariaca, 
Para, Brazil, the child of Amazon Indian parents. Baptized three years later, 
she was adopted in 1911 by a Brazilian family of European descent and raised as 
a fervent Catholic. She entered the Monastery of Christ the King, Sao Paulo, in 
1935, taking the name of Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, and was solemn- 
ly professed in 1944. After nearly forty years as a Dominican nun. she passed to 
her eternal reward on September 19, 1974. The following is a brief account by her 
own community of her life and holiness. 

Curupira was the only person in the community, indeed in the world, who had 
any thought of the holiness of Curupira... And this thought she held with an 
unshakeable certitude, the certitude of those who know that God alone is Holy. 
She never doubted that the Heavenly Father loved her enough and was powerful 
enough to hold her nothingness in his arms. Yes, we think that recognition of 
the sanctity of Curupira on the part of the Church would prove ver\ interesting 
as an effort to convince people that it is not the saints who are saints, but God 
in them, in the very measure that they are convinced of their own nothingness and 
allow themselves to be invaded by love. 

Her virtues were admittedly rather strange, but none the less heroic for all 
that. Here is one example out of a thousand: she reached the point of slapping 
a sister who had the nerve to come into "her" refectory while she was washing the 
floor. But before Communion, with what tenderness did she embrace her victims: 
"My dear little sister, you know it is because I am an Indian, but I do really 
love you!" 

She used to say that purity and joy were her favorite virtues. Once she 
confided that she had never sinned against purity. Such Dominican virtues! 
In fact, one found her always and everywhere cheerful as a bird, except in her 
terrible moments of anger... She was especially pure of heart: very affectionate, 
tender, winning even, but never possessive. Although deeply attached to Mother 
Reginald, she knew how to accept her other prioresses with the same respect full 
of affection, and on the death of that particular one, she gave proof of an ad- 
mirable supernatural spirit. 

Possibly as early as her first call to the religious life at the age of 
eighteen, the day of her first Communion, she had had an intuition of her 
"sanctity," for at that time she began to write her life, unfortunately thrown 
on the fire out of fear that it would prove an impediment to her admission to 
the novitiate. But it was particularly on the famous day when she assisted at 
Mass in our chapel and someone said to her that it was the feast of St. Rose of 
tima, the first saint of Latin America, that she made this formal reply: "As 
for me, I will be the first saint of Brazil." And a little later on she added: 
"A one-hundred per cent Brazilian saint, without a single drop of European blood, 
except for the blood of the Franciscan missionaries whom my ancestors ate." 

During her fina'l illness, she advised us to preserve carefully all her 
"relics": a collection of straw hats, feather dusters and brooms. One day, she 
happened to notice that someone was burning her belongings in the garden: "I see 
very well that you do not understand me..." She also enjoined us to transform 
her cell into a chapel because many people would come there to pray. 



Mosteiro Cristo Rei 
Caixa postal: 85 
18130 Sao Roque S.P. 

contributed by: Soeur Marie Damien du Sacre Coeur, O.P. 

Editor's Note: As this issue of DMS was going to the press, we received the 
following communication from Sr. Marie Damien: 

"We thank you for the excellent translation of the article on Curupira. I have 
one correction to make: Curupira never actually slapped any of her sisters. hut as 
she spoke with much gesticulation and would come closer and closer to the sister in 
her efforts to make her understand, one could easily believe that she had slapped 
the person! A sister who had worked closely with her on various different jobs 
has Drought out the truth of the matter." 


"My rosary ought to be the favorite joy of my heart." 


1. THE ANNUNCIATION Fruit: Humility 

my Mother, give me a great humility so that I can resemble my Divine Master I 

2. THE VISITATION Fruit: Charity for my neighbor 

My Mother, impregnate my heart with this holy virtue, because when everything 
else disappears, it alone will last forever. 

3. THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD Fruit: Poverty 

My Mother, give me a great love for the poverty of my Lord Jesus Christ. 

4. THE PRESENTATION Fruit: Obedience 

My Mother, give me a holy obedience, an unquestioning obedience, as befits 
a good religious, especially one belonging to the Order of our beloved 
Father St. Dominic. 

5. THE FINDING IN THE TEMPLE Fruit: The seeking of Jesus 
My Mother, in everything may I seek only Jesus, my Beloved. 


1. THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN Fruit: Contrition 

My Mother, give to my spirit, a spirit of penance; to my soul, contrition; 

and to my eyes, a fountain of tears, after the example of our Father 

St. Augustine, the Father of our Rule, so that I may weep for my great sins 

2. THE SCOURGING Fruit: Mortification 

My Lady and my Mother, grant that I may be mortified even in the least 
things, to please only you and my Beloved Master. 

3. THE CROWNING WITH THORNS Fruit: Love of humiliations 

My dear Mother, you know that I have a great horror of humiliations... 
Give me the grace to love this precious virtue with all my soul. 


My Mother, give me a great patience in all that happens to your daughter, 

particularly in the most sorrowful hours. 

5. THE CRUCIFIXION Fruit: Love of the Cross 

My Mother, give me a generous love of the Cross of my Divine Master, so 
that I can say without fear that I am a faithful spouse. 




My Mother, give me a great faith, a living faith, full of true love and 
of confidence in my Lord, Jesus Christ. 

2. THE ASCENSION Fruit: Hope 

My Mother, grant me this great and strong hope of being in heaven with 
you and the angels and saints. 

3. COMING OF THE SPIRIT Fruit: Charity 

My Mother, let it be that the Divine Holy Spirit makes of my poor heart 
his chosen dwelling place. 

4. THE ASSUMPTION Fruit: The grace of a happy death 

My Mother, grant me a good and holy death through love of your holy 
Rosary. My Mother, I love you. 

5. THE CORONATION Fruit: Confidence in Mary 

My loving and affectionate Mother, come with all the court of angels 

and saints, virgins and holy widows to meet this poor child on the day of 

my death. I hope to be happy through the holy Rosary. 

(Translated by Sr. Mary of the Trinity (Lufkin) from "The Newsletter of 
Sr. Anna of the Angels", Sante Fe , Argentina, July 9, 1984, Year III, No. 27, 


Grant, Qrb 
jfatt 2 rmy be 
a tempts of j?rucfm 

* (um tfyrmpr 

<tni of your jtcasl 

Feast of S+, Alba.r+'Hfva. GriLaf 



Homily preached at the Mass of Blessing of new Monastery 
and the Establishment of the Monastic Enclosure at 
Saint Dominic's Monastery, Washington, DC 
Rev. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. 
May 4, 1985 

There is only one letter of our Holy Father St. Dominic extant. It was. 
written at just about this time of year in 1220. It opens with these words: 

Friar Dominic, Master of the Preachers, to the dear prioress and 
the whole convent of nuns of Madrid. Health and daily progress. 
We rejoice greatly and give thanks to God because of your holy 
lives and because he has liberated you from the corruption of the 
world. Up to the present you have not had a suitable place for 
the carrying out of your religious life. But now... by God's 
grace you possess buildings sufficiently well adapted for the 
maintenance of the regular life. 

We may suppose that our Holy Father would want to address these or similar 
words to this little flock of his daughters, our much-loved sisters in this 
monastery on 16th Street in Washington. 

Notice the phrase in his letter: "a suitable place." This phrase 
describes his constant goal in his work of establishing the first communities 
of Dominican nuns. Indeed, throughout the literature recording the histories 

of these and subsequent communities and clearly in the history of the 

founding of this monastery, a_ suitable place is the goal passionately, per- 
sistently, boldly sought. This suitability is judged by many factors, some 
mundane, others intangible. We shall have occasion later in this sermon to 

ask: "Suitable for what?" not irreverently, of course, but in order to 

come to a deeper understanding of the Dominican contemplative life which we 
solemnly inaugurate today. For the moment, let us learn something of the 
determination with which St. Dominic and now his daughters have sought the 
suitable place. 

We see St. Dominic intimately involved in seeking suitable places for 
the three monastic foundations with which he was direc\ ly involved in his 
lifetime: Prouille, Madrid and Rome. In Madrid, it was fairly easy: In May 
1220 he simply moved the friars from their priory and moved into it the group 
of women converted by him and the preachers and living apart from each other 
since 1218. It was to this newly established community, now in a suitable 
place, that the letter quoted earlier was addressed. 

Finding a suitable place for his other monastic foundations was not so 
easy. St. Dominic was intermittently engaged from 1207 until the end of his 
life in 1221 in the endeavor to establish his first community of nuns at 
Prouille on a solid basis: bartering for land, securing endowments, over- 
seeing lawsuits, obtaining the necessary protection, and so on. So direct 
was his involvement that Vicaire could write that St. Dominic "sold, bought, 
exchanged parcels of land, not without a certain ability for business... in 
order to establish an unbroken domain..." for the monastic enclosure at 
Prouille. Always the goal is: a suitable place. 


And finally, St. Sixtus in Rome to which he devoted much of his energies 
in the final months of his life in the spring of 1221. Settling the sixty 
or so nuns who would finally have their suitable place at San Sisto by mid- 
April 1221 posed quite a challenge to Dominic's organizational and diplomatic 
skills. Here it was not only securing adequate property, endowment and pro- 
tection that engaged his attention. A more subtle challenge awaited him 
in the form of the celebrated miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin in the 
church of the nuns of Santa Maria in Tempulo, one of the groups that was to 
take vows in the Dominican Order and be established at San Sisto. This 
miraculous icon had always manifested a pronounced unwillingness to be moved 
from Santa Maria in Tempulo. When it was once carried off by Pope Sergius III 
even to so august a setting as the Lateran, it reportedly returned to Santa 
Maria "flying through the window like a bird." Well, the nuns of Santa Maria 
in Tempulo agreed to make profession to St. Dominic and relocate at San Sisto 
only on the condition that they be released from their vows to him if their 

famous icon which would naturally accompany them to their new home 

returned to Santa Maria as it had been known to do in the past. St. Dominic 

agreed to this condition. During the night of April 18, 1221 the day on 

which all the nuns were finally gathered at San Sisto St. Dominic, the 

cardinals Nicholas of Tusculum and Stefano of Fossanova, along with chosen 
brethren and lay people, all barefooted, carried the icon on their shoulders 
in solemn procession to San Sisto where the nuns, also barefooted, awaited 
them in the church. There it was solemnly installed in the restored basilica. 
This event was witnessed by a seventeen year old nun, Sister Cecilia, who 
when she reported these and other incidents had reached her eighties and was 

able to assert happily and with great relief that the icon was still 

in place with the nuns of San Sisto. 

There were no lengths, as we can see, to which St. Dominic would not 
go in his quest for "a suitable place" for his nuns. 

Anyone acquainted with the story of the long pilgrimage which has 
brought these Dominican Nuns to two acres on Sixteenth Street will be 

struck by the boldness, determination and struggle all focused on this 

single goal, a suitable place for the monastic enclosure and the contem- 
plative life it affords. Mother Mary of the Angels, O.P. and her companion, 
Sister Mary of the Blessed Sacrament, O.P., left the monastery in Union City, 
New Jersey, in 1907 to found a Dominican monastic community in Baker City, 
Oregon. After two years of struggle and even though other nuns from Union 
City joined them, Mother Mary of the Angels reported to the Bishop that the 
support needed to sustain a monastic community was simply lacking in Baker 
City. She prayed for guidance, as she reports, and opened the Catholic 
Directory to the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. After she had written to 
the Bishop there, he invited her to come and visit. As a result of this 
visit, Mother Mary of the Angels was convinced that La Crosse would provide 
a suitable place for a Dominican monastic community. She went back to 
Baker City, sold tlje house there, and on July 2, 1909, gathered her nuns 
for the arduous trip by rail to La Crosse. Since they were desperately 
poor and would be unable to purchase food and drink on the train, one of the 
nuns baked six dozen biscuits which together with water and coffee would 
provide their sustenance for the week long rail trip. 

We can sense something of the struggle these nuns faced in the ensuing 


years from the words addressed to the community in a letter in 1959 from 
the Bishop of La Crosse, John P. Treacy: "Like every good work, there must 
be a humble beginning, and the more precious the work and the higher the 
purpose of its founding, the greater must be the sacrifice in accomplishing 
that work... Christ's Church itself came to us through much suffering. All 
our religious orders began with the greatest sacrifices of poor and humble 
men and women... No more brilliant example of this is there than the somewhat 
more than humble beginning of the (Dominican Nuns) in La Crosse fifty years 
ago." Throughout this struggle and sacrifice, we can observe the same 
determined pursuit of a suitable place to sustain their Dominican 
contemplative life. 

The first band established itself in a house on Avon Street. When this 
location proved unsuitable, Mother Mary of the Angels hac the house divided 
in two and moved to a location on George Street. But in the 1950 's the 
George Street monastery was twice flooded by the waters cr" the Mississippi 
and finally proved unsafe for habitation. Under the direction of Mother 
Mary of the Immaculate Conception, who had come from West Springfield with a 
group of nuns to augment the La Crosse community, the nuns moved again to 
South Avenue. 

Now in 1985 they have come to this two-acre tract of land in the great 
city of Washington, to a suitable location bounded by Sixteenth, ar lc Emerson, 
and Farragut, and Piney Branch, to this ample and wonderfully desi ned 
monastery building and chapel. The distance between Union City ar.d Washington 
— just about 200 miles — has taken them seventy-eight years and many thousands 

of miles to traverse all in the bold and untiring pursuit of a suitable 

place. It is not surprising that their story reminds us of St. l>ominic 
himself at Prouille, and Madrid, and San Sisto in Rome. A suitable place. 

Perhaps you have asked yourselves: what makes a location suitable? 
This is a difficult question which cannot really be answered in the abstract. 
There is a better question, however, one that will lead us to understand the 
determination that marked the pursuit of a suitable place for the enclosure — 
by St. Dominic and by this community today joyfully established in Washington. 
The location must be suitable for what? for what purpose? to serve what 
particular ends? Even an incomplete answer to this question will help us to 
come to a deeper penetration of this ceremony of dedication and, more impor- 
tantly, of the Dominican contemplative, monastic life itself. 

There are, of course, several fairly obvious answers to the question: 
suitable for what? The place must be suited to the celebration of the sacred 

liturgy the Hours and the Eucharist which are at the very heart of 

this way of life, and thus suited to the construction of an ample and well- 
fitted chapel such as the one provided here by the care and skill of 

the architects and the construction manager and their fellow-workers. The 

buildings, the grounds, the setting as an ensemble, they must afford the 

tranquility needed for a life of silence, prayer, work, study and community 
in Christ. 

But the suitability of the place needs to be viewed from a deeper and 
more integral point of view: it must be suitable for the monastic enclosure. 


Apart from the Eucharist itself, the most solemn part of today's 
ceremony will come at the end of Mass when Archbishop James Hickey formally 
erects here the papal enclosure, that space physically marked out by the 
choir screen, the locked doors to the cloister, the panels in the visiting 
parlors, and the wooden fence encompassing these lovely two acres. But, as 
you can imagine, the monastic enclosure is something much more intangible 
and indeed spiritual than simply a marking out of fences and locked doors. 
It is at this point that we come to the deepest mystery of the Dominican 
contemplative life and of the determined pursuit of the suitable place 
we have already observed in some detail. 

For in the person of this successor of the apostles, God himself acts 
to claim these two acres as, if you will, a beach-head. For in this place 
is established in a particularly intense and heightened form a glimpse of 
the future of the world and of humankind with it. 

The enclosure far from being primarily an exclusion or rejection 

of the world outside compresses the whole of the human reality with all 

its infinite longing for union with God and affirms it absolutely without 
reservation. We wrest these two acres of the city of Washington and "enclose" 
them to bring into existence the beginning of the destiny of the world. For 

the enclosure affords not by human discovery or provision, but by the 

action of God's grace itself a place suited to the seeking of union with 

God as that end which surpasses all others and in which all others are 
ultimately comprised. This is the high destiny to which every human being 
is called and to which the whole cosmos itself is stretching. In this 
suitable place, the end of the world begins to be. 

I close with St. Dominic's words: "Friar Dominic, Master of the 
Preachers, to the dear prioress and the whole convent of nuns of Washington. 
Health and daily progress. We rejoice greatly and give thanks to God because 
of your holy lives and because he has freed you from the corruption of the 
world. Up to the present, you have not had a suitable place for the carrying 
out of your religious life. But now... by God's grace you possess buildings 
sufficiently well adapted for the maintenance of the regular life." 




From September 16 to 19, 1984, the "Federation St. Thomas" which unites the 
three monasteries of Belgium-South held a workshop directed by the well-known 
historian, F.H.M. Vicaire, O.P.. on the topic: The contemplative life according 
to the spirit of St. Dominic . Participants included members of six monasteries 
from Belgium. Flanders and Northern France, as well as the religious assistant 
of the federation and the promoter for the nuns and sisters of Flanders. Father 
Vicaire spoke successivel\ on the following five topics: 

1. Contemplation in the life and holiness of St. Dominic 

All the historical sources which are available confirm the testimony of 
B. Cecilia: "He was a great man of prayer." The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. 
Dominic give a picture of his intense prayer. 

From the text of Jordan of Saxony on the beginning of the Order, which contains 
valuable symbolic theology, we know that St. Dominic was inspired by a great 
love for God and his fellowmen, an intense contemplative charity. 

Dominic entered the chapter of the cathedral of Osma, a chapter being in the 
Middle Ages the contemplative way of living par excellence . The canons assured 
the presence of prayer in the diocese. They followed the Rule of St. Augustine, 
and in their formation the Conferences of Cassian had an important part; this 
writing is a veritable tract on the contemplative life. 

From 1206 Dominic was totally captured by preaching, but that did noi in the 
least diminish his contemplative life. He always carried with him tne books 
necessary for study and praye ■ . His breviary has been preserved. On the way 
from one place to another he i ould have the brothers walk before him, asking 
them to be silent and pray, snying: "And now let us consider our Savior." We 
know how he passed the nights praying almost without interruption. It reguired 
simple heroism to lead at the same time such a life of prayer and of preaching. 

Dominic's prayer was penetrated by psalms and hymns. It sprung forth from and 
reposed on a theological (faith, hope, charity) inspiration, but it also found 
a physical expression. It was a cry, a call of belief in the evangelical Truth, 
which is Christ the Redeemer. The contemplation of the crucified Lord moved 
him to tears again and again. He knew the mystical union, its sorrows and deep 

These rich and varied forms of prayer, of contemplative prayer, precede his apo- 
stolic animation. This is the topic of the third lecture. 

2. What is contemplation 9 

The term is not biblical, but stems from Greek philosophy. Clement of Alex- 
andria brought it into Christian theology. Different elements of Plotinus' 
detailed definition of the term must be corrected to fit its Christian meaning. 

According to Plotinus, contemplation (1) is reserved to an elite, rich enough 
in time and money to be able to free themselves from earthly solicitude; 
(2) can be obtained by personal exertion; (3) breaks social bonds by escaping 
from worldly care; (4) reaches its goal by contact with the first Principle of 
all things. Christian contemplation, on the other hand, (1) is meant for every- 
one; (2) is a pure gift of God; (3) is a source of greater charity, because true 
contemplation guides back to one's fellow men; (4) strives toward union with God, 
through a being-grasped by love. 


Grace always has a contemplative form, the kernal of a vivid belief in Christ, 
which is directed to participation in his life. And the life of Christ is love, 
poured out in him by the Spirit of God. 

Every love strives for union, for the biblical "knowing" that means a union en- 
closing the whole person, a being-gripped that leads to the highest contemplation: 
the entrance into the Trinitarian movement of God's own life. 

And this grace calls for an attitude of life, corresponding to the claims of the 
Sermon on the Mount. Contemplation is a basic trait of the Gospel. 

There are many kinds of contemplation: esthetic, poetic, philosophic, scientific, 

religious... but every kind encloses more or less clearly four elements: 

(1) an act of the intelligence (spirit); (2) a moment of stop, of rest; 

(3) a taking-up, very deep and active; (4) an intervention of the will to taste, 

to enjoy. 

According to St. Thomas (2a 2ae, 180. 3 I) contemplation is "intuitus simplex 
veritatis". the simple intuition of Truth. It is the end of a whole series of 
exercises: "Meditatio. ruminatio, cogitatio" of intelligence and will in search 
of the object of their longing. 

There is no Christian contemplation without Christ, without thanksgiving (Eu- 
charistia). Belief gives movement and content to this gift of the Holy Spirit. 

3. The connection between contemplation and the apostolic life of preaching 

in St. Dominic 

In St. Dominic the life of preaching, the proclamation of Truth, springs 
forth from his contemplation, because this makes him similar to Christ, who 
calls him to work with all his forces for the salvation of men. The intensity 
of his contemplation of Christ forms him into a co-Savior. 

As a student in Palencia he sold his Bible, enriched with personal annotations, 
to found a "charity", that is, a regular distribution of food to the poor. We 
must understand and grasp very well that by doing this, he sold his whole theo- 
logical library, a whole capital of exegesis and spirituality. This was a 
"corporal" work of mercy; it would be followed later on by many "spiritual" 
works of mercy. 

From time to time, the missionary impulse would become stronger in Dominic, 
but without release. The mysterious "Cumans" would beckon to him for help. 

At the example of Abraham, Dominic left his country, knowing the deepest ex- 
propriation (asceticism): he had no convent of his own, no cell, no bed. 
These things struck his brethren most during his last illness and at his death. 

When evangelizing, St. Dominic used two weapons: (1) the prayer of intercession, 
mediation; and (2) his fiery, ardent heart. The first found its expression in 
the Liturgy as well as in his personal prayer. He prayed for temporal, material 
help, e.g., at the accident in San Sisto, when the architect met his death, but 
recovered life by the intercession of Dominic. He also prayed for spiritual 
help, in general or specifically for one person or for himself, in thanksgiving 
or compunction. (2) An ardent heart and an incomparable energy characterize 
his days, because they are fed by nights of prayer. All his decisions grow out 
of contemplation; the Holy Spirit inspires him at every important step, e.g., 
when he transfers Brother Reginald from Bologna to Paris. A divine instinct 
guides him, e.g., when he spreads the brethren all over Europe (August 15, 1217): 
"I know what I am doing." 


The whole condition of Dominic can be gathered in this one synthesis, which 
he took from Etienne de Muret, a great contemplative, and which he had inserted 
in the Constitutions: "... that the brethren only speak with God or of God." 
From this synthesis rises the unity between prayer and preaching. 

4 . The contemplative life in the Primitive Constitutions of the Order 

St. Dominic was a great legislator. His constitutional conception was 
steady and solid, but he wished the Constitutions to be flexible and to be 
enriched by the current of the times. This idea has a touch of genius. 

Between 1216 and 1221, he himself wrote two "rules", by which are meant the 
Constitutions, the rule being that of St. Augustine. In 1221 he wrote the 
rule of San Sisto for the nuns in Rome. In 1228 this rule was given to the 
Penitents of St. Mary Magdalen in Germany by the Holy See. We still possess 
these texts and we know indirectly what must have been the rule of Prouilhe, 
as sisters from Prouilhe were called to Rome in order to form the community of 
San Sisto in the spirit of Dominic. 

In 1221 a unity in observances for the nuns and the friars of Toulouse was 
reached. The difference between the primitive "rule" (constitutions) of the 
friars and the "rule" of San Sisto for the nuns lies on two levels: (1) the 
enclosure , which already existed for the brethren, but which Dominic wanted 
very severe for the nuns, especially because he had in view the placement of 
a convent of friars next to a monastery of nuns. The juridical norms (papal 
enclosure) are of a later date. (2) Manual labor , in line with the usual 
monastic tradition. Dominic replaced this for the brethren by the spiritual 
task of the Preachers, that is. preaching and all that concerns it. 

What forms the basis for an apostolic community? ("apostolic" in the meaning 
of the 13th century, that is, imitation of the Apostles) 

(1) unanimity , which according to the rule of St. Augustine, is expressed in 
regular observance; 

(2) prayer , which makes the community contemplative. 

Prayer and unanimity together fashion the impact that the communit\ has on its 

Summary of the observances according to the "rule" of 1216 for the brethren: 

(1) enclosure : "The brethren shall not go out for study." A Master of the 
University comes into the convent. This lies at the origin of. e.g.. 

a university-chair in the house of St. Jacgues in Paris. 

(2) silence : should be kept severely. There were special punishments for 
shortcomings. "Silentium Pater Praedicatorum" 

(3) retirement from the world. 

(4) collective moral formation : especially by the chapter of faults. 

(5) formation to prayer in the novitiate. The Liturgy contains three major 
hours, which everyone should attend, whatever occupation one has in re- 
gard to study and preaching. Two particular devotions are the Office of 
the Virgin, ,which was recited when getting up, and the Office of the Dead, 

(6) study as the basis. Dominic intended to have a doctor of theology in 
every house to give lectures. 


5. The proper character of the Dominican contemplative life for our nuns 

A text of 1215 says: "The friars preach the truth of the evangelical Word." 

Our contemplative life flourishes in the care to work out the welfare, the sal- 
vation of men; its service is the source of inspiration for the prayer of inter- 
cession and caJls forth the missionary vocation. This vocation works on different 
levels, increasing the number of Christians or their merits. b\ feeding their 
belief, by helping the fervent to progress, by developing the mystical ex- 
perience. The mystics of the Rhineland owe their flourishing to the preaching 
of the brethren in the monasteries. Other countries knew a similar rise of 

The contemplative life of the nuns has a five-fold character: 

(1) Their contemplative life is directed to the salvation of souls . 

(2) Reciprocally, the theological study of the brethren has an influence 
and a repercussion on the contemplation of the sisters: there is 
mutual impregnation by brotherly talks, by writings, etc. 

(3) The life of the nuns occupies a special place in the organization of 

a strong institute. (Leo Moulin, an agnostic jurist and professor of 
the University of Brussels, calls the Dominican legislation "a grand 
cathedral. ") 

(4) Every branch of the Order plays its own role in the whole of the Order. 
The nuns are not a reverberation of the brethren. 

(5) By radiation of holiness, by hospitable reception, by Liturgy and by 
mutual cooperation with the other branches of the family, the nuns fulfill 
the specific task of the Order: preaching. 

This report of Fr. Vicaire's conferences was prepared for us b\ Sr. Myriam of 
the Zelem, Belgium, monastery. 



JOSEPH „ . w £ , 

Sister Mary or the Assumption, 

West Springfield 

The purpose of this paper is to honor St. Joseph: Patron of 
the Universal Church, patron of the contemplative life, patron 
of the first American Dominican province. Today there is 
specialized study of Joseph called Josephology, which is a 
theological study of his dignity, mission and prerogatives. A 
center for research and documentation on Josephology is Saint 
Joseph's Oratory, Mount Royal, Montreal. International symposia 
on Josephology are held occasionally. In September of this 
year an international symposium was held in Poland. 

The encyclical, Qua tn^uara P 1 u ries by Leo X 1 1 1 4 i s considered 
today the charter of Josephology. Joseph, the humble 
carpenter, is glorified in heaven to the extent to which he 
was hidden on earth. he to whom the Incarnate Word gave 
obedience has now an incomparable power of intercession. "Just 
as Mary, Mother of the Savior, is spiritual mother of all 
Christians... so also Joseph looks on all Christians as having 
been confided to him. He is the defender of the Church which 
is truly the house of God and the kingdom of God on earth." 

Basic to the position of Joseph is the fact of his virginal 
and true marriage to the virgin Mother of God. "Jesus is the 
fruit of this marriage, not because He was generated by it, 
but because He was received and reared within it according 
to God's reason for bringing it into existence." 

Joseph was "probably a native of Bethlehem, or a least he 
owned property there. It was primarily because of property 
taxes that he was obliged to be registered in the Roman census 
at Bethlehem, for the Romans would not have been interested 
in his Davidic descent as such." 

Jesus is called "the carpenter's son". The Greek word for 

carpenter, tekton, like the Latin faber, signifies a crafts- 
man or artisan. The spouse of Mary was "both a dreamer and 
a worker. His role in the mystery of God's plan was made 
clear to him in dreams; yet he had all the essential 
practicality of a carpenter." 

s there. John 
e carpenter 

We hear little of Joseph in the Gospels but he i 

calls Jesus the "son of Joseph". As Joseph th 

taught the Divine Child to smooth planks of wood, he also 

showed himself the model of a conscientious workman and 

dutiful son of Israel. Pere Lagrange describes Joseph as 

a "man of silence and a contemplator of mysteries." 


Joseph the carpenter supported his family with his trade. 
Artisans of his time did not have their shops in their own 
homes. So Joseph's home would have been his refuge and delight 
in the evenings and on holidays when he would have precious hours 
of family intimacy with the Divine Child and Mary, the most 
womanly of all women. There were no others in Nazareth who 
shared the King's secret except Mary and Joseph. Their evenings 
together, consecrated by unselfish and mutual love of the Child, 
opened the eyes of husband and wife to the heights of nobility 
in each other. These were hoursfor deepening, widening the 
mutual love that made them one. "To Joseph, Mary's flaming 
sanctity would light up her every act, her smiles, her least 
gesture, her face in repose, to make of them a fire warming a 
man to his very depths and spurring him on to much more than his 
very best; while the quiet strength, the patient routine, the 
unobtrusive labors of Joseph would make more plain to Mary the 
fineness of the man and the reckless generosity of his love, more 
plain even ft than in the days of her espousals, of Bethlehem and 
of Egypt . " 

Joseph's vocation is unique. The Dominican, Isidore de Isolanis, 
who wrote the first theological treatise on St. Joseph, places 
the vocation of Joseph above that of the apostles. He remarks 
that "the vocation of the apostles is to preach theGospel, to 
enlighten souls, to reconcile them with God. The vocation of 
Joseph is related more closely to Christ Himself since he is 
the spouse of the Mother of God, the foster father and protector 
of the Sav i or . " 

When writing about the interior life of Mary, Father Garrigou- 
Lagrange found it impossible not to speak also of Joseph. He 
speaks of the "predestination of Joseph, his eminent perfection, 
the character of his special mission, his virtues and his role 
in the sane t i f i c a t i on of souls." 

Joseph's virtues are those of the hidden life: virginity, 
humility, poverty. He was patient and prudent. His faith 
was enlightened by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, by confidence 
in God and perfect charity. Joseph appears as the most humble 
of the saints. Bossuet says he "hid himself as much as possible 
from mortal eyes, enjoying with God alone the mystery revealed 
to him and the infinite riches of which he was the custodian." 

In replying to the objection that the Mother of God was not a 
virgin when conceiving Christ, St. Thomas quotes Augustine as 
saying that "Joseph is called the father of Christ just as he 
is called the husband of Mary... by the mere bond of marriage, 
being thereby united to Him much more closely than if he were 
adopted from anbther family. Consequently, that Christ was 
not begotten of Joseph by fleshly union is no reason why Joseph 
should not be called His father. He would be the father even 
of an adopted son not born of his wife." 12 


In the lives of the saints we find devotion to Joseph. Teresa 
of Avila took Joseph for her advocate and lord. A spiritual 
daughter, Blessed Mary of St. Teresa, a seventeenth century 
Carmelite in the secular Third Order, enjoyed mystical union 
with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. She writes: 

"My dearest Mother seems not to be satisfied with simply 
drawing me to the perpetual love of herself and to a very 
pure, tender and faithful love of Jesus. It is not enough 
for her to adopt me as her child. She seems to desire 
that 1 also love her dear spouse, St. Joseph. She effectively 
plants this love in my heart, so that my love and the inclina- 
tion of my soul have these three Persons as object, although 
by a simple regard and in unity of spirit. They are all 
three constantly united in my heart and in my love. 

"I contemplate Jesus, Mary and Joseph and enjoy their 
presence in the depth of my soul, seeing them as united 
for all eternity to the Divine Being with whom they 3re 
totally permeated." 

Father Mary John Joseph Lataste, O.P. (1832-1869) ardently 
desired that Joseph would be proclaimed Patron of the Universal 
Church. He wrote to Pius IX to offer his life for this inten- 
tion. The Holy Father commented that "more than five hundred 
persons have requested the proclamation, but only Pere Lataste 
has offered his life in exchange." The proclamation was made in 
1870, a year after Pere Lataste' s death on March 10, 1869. 

St. Ther 
"At Our 
to watch 
him wh i c 
r e c i t ed 
of v ir g i 

ese of Lisieux had a special love for Joseph. She writes 
Lady of Victories I also prayed to St. Joseph, asking him 

over me; ever since my childhood I had a devotion for 
h easily merged with my love for the Blessed Virgin. I 
each day in his honor: "0 Joseph, father and protector 

We read in the autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret, an arch- 
bishop and Council Father at Vatican I, these words which he wrote 
under obedience: "On May 7, 1865 at 3:30 in the afternoon... 
Jesus told me to be very devout to St. Joseph and to approach him 
with confidence." 

Blessed Andre Bessette, C.S.C. (Frere Andre of Mount Royal, Montreal 
recently beatified by Pope John Paul II, reminds us in our own times 
to imitate Joseph, to honor him and converse with him. His own 
great devotion to St. Joseph guided him and gave him complete 
confidence in God. 

A prayerful return to Nazareth would perhaps give a new 
dimension to our cloistered contemplative lives as we look 
at the humble carpenter, the one who contemplated mysteries. 


Hail Joseph, image of God the Father, 

Hail Joseph, father of God the Son, 

Hail Joseph, treasury of the Holy Spirit, 

Hail Joseph, delight of the Most Holy Trinity 

(Pere Olier ) 



1 1 




Leo XIII, Quamg uam P 1 u r i e s » quoted in Garrigou-Lagrange, 
T he Mothe r of the Savior , Dublin, 1948, p. 337. 

New Catholic E ncycl opedia , vol. VII, p. 1109. 

Ibid . , p . 1 107 . 

Matt .13:55 

Raymond Daley, O.P. , Providence Assembly, June 2, 1981. 

Jn. 1:45 

M.J. Lagrange, O.P., Th_e_ Gos£e 1 c>_f Jesus C hrist , Westminster, Md., 
1938, p. 55. ~ 

Walter Farrell ,0.P. , Only Son , New York, 1953, p. 59. 

Garrigou-Lagrange, op. c it , , p. 327. 

ibid . , p . 322 . 

ibid . , p . 335 . 

Summa Theologica , III , question 28, art. 1, "Of the Virginity 
of the Mother of God". 

Union with Our Lady , from the writings of Blessed Mary of 
St. Teresa, translated by Thomas E. McGinnis, O.Carm., New 
York, 1954, pp. 22-23. 

Sister Mary J d a n Dorcy ,O.P . , ,S £ . D omini c ' £ Fami ly , Tan Books 
edition, Rockford, Illinois, 1983, p. 528. 

Story o f a_ Sou l , Washington, D.C., 1975, p. 124. 

Au t ob i ogr aphy o f S t . Anthony Mary C laret , edited by Jose Maria 
vTnas , C.M.F., Chicago, 1976, p. 286. 

Mother Mary William, O.P, 



The Liturgy takes us into the 
ETERNAL NOW of God, joining us 
and overflowing into the CON- 

The Liturgy takes us into the ETERNAL NO W of God: 

How exciting it is to realize that in our Liturgical celebrations TIME STANDS 
STILL, and we are caught up into the Eternal Worship of Christ before the 
throne of His Father! In our Liturgy we are brought into God's TRANSCENDENCE 
as we worship Him Whom St. Ignatius of Antioch described in his letter to 
Polvcarp as "outside time, the Eternal One, the Unseen, Who became visible 
for us." In our Liturgy we are plugged into this ETERNAL DIMENSION of God. 

This is expressed beautifully by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Pc-c-" 

By assuming our human nature the Divine Word introduced in- 
to this exile a hymn which is sung in Heaven for all eter- 
nity. He united to Himself the whole human race, and with 
it sings this hymn of praise to God. 

In our Liturgical worship we are brought into that hymn as we join with the 
voice of the Whole Church. 

Vatican II states that religious are called in a special way to bear witness 
to the heavenly realities. This we do in our Liturgy. Each morning in the In- 
vitatory of the Divine Office we encourage one another to worship: "Come, let 
us sing joyfully to the Lord!" If our whole life as religious is a bearing wit- 
ness to the heavenly dimension of the Christian life we do this in a special 
way at the Liturgy, when we are lifted up into the ETERNAL NOW of our God to 
sing His praises. 

Our very movements are the movements of Heaven! St. Gregory the Great had 
a vision of Heaven in which he saw the heavenly citizens divided into two 
choirs, singing God's praises alternately, and both choirs bowing together in 
praise of the Triune God. He then adopted these "heavenly rubrics" for the 
Benedictine monastic Liturgy; and these were later taken over by St. Dominic 
and other monastic founders. 

As we praise God alternately in this way, "abyss calls unto abyss" - the abyss 
of God's eternal thoughts expressed by one choir, are answered by the other 
choir in its expressing of the deep words of God. We worship together in this 
way under the inspiration of the great Conductor of our praise - the Holy Spir- 
it. We express sentiments of praise, love, yearning, grief, hope in the name 
of all men, past - present - future, all present in the ETERNAL NOW of God. 

Our Liturgy thus becomes a true process of ETERNALIZATION, because in our wor- 
ship Christ assumes us into His Eternal Present. 

* Editoi'6 Note: Tktt, papeA uxu ohJjglnaJULy a ChapteA talk concluding viith a pocXic 
steading accompanied by guJJjJJi. The steading u, based on the stc flection* contained 
In the. book THE MVSTERV OF TRAMS FORMING LOVE by Adxlan van Kaam. 
ScvqaoI o{ hvt 6-it>teAA encounaged MotkeA Masiy WtlLiam to submit -it &oi 
publication In DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH. We aAe 'nappy to ttcprtoduce it /ie/ie. 


Our Liturgy and the Communion of Saints: 

The Liturgy addresses the person as a SOCIAL BEING, and not just as an individ- 
ual separate from other individuals. The Liturgy establishes a deep union be- 
tween the faithful who are still pilgrims and the just, both those in Heaven 
and those in Purgatory, and also between mankind and the angelic world. 

In the Liturgy, weaker things are associated 
with the higher, terrestrial things are joined 
to the celestial, and that which is visible 
with that which is invisible, and a SINGLE 
UNITY IS FORMED. (St. Gregory the Great) 

Our Liturgy is seen as the place of encounter, par excellence, of the Church 
Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant: 

-the worship of the angels and saints in Heaven 
-the worship of the people of God on earth 
-the worship of the souls in Purgatory 

The Liturgy views the whole cosmos as an integral universe united in worship: 
inanimate creation, we "on the way", those in glory, the angelic world - 
all united in giving praise and worship to the Creator in the ETERNAL NOW. 

In our monastic Chapel these great realities of the Liturgy are ever before us 

in Jesus Hostia raised aloft in the monstrance, as a living Presence of the 

Sacred in our midst. In our times of adoration we are taken into the ETERNAL 
NOW of the Eucharistic Lord and God. 

The Liturgy overflowing into Contemplative Pray er: 

Our Liturgy is meant to overflow into a contemplative spirit of worship all 
through the day and night in continual prayer: 

The intended effect of the Liturgy is THE CON- 
TEMPLATION OF GOD, perfectly in Heaven, and 
even now in faith, hope and love. The Liturgy 
makes us "temples of contemplation" of the God 
Who dwells within us. (Paul Hinnebusch, O.P., . 
ReJiigiouA Lifac a Living LttuAgy) 

Through the act of worship, the Sacred Liturgy 
directs the life of the faithful toward the 
contemplation of divine things. (Vatican II - 
Document on the SacAcd Litan.gij) 

The Liturgy makes it easier for us to tran- 
scend the facts and circumstances of an 
earthly condition, enlarging the field of our 
vision, and leading us through the things that 
are seen, into the eternal and invisible God. 
(H. Clerissac, O.P., Tkc SpVvUl o^ St. dominie) 


Thus, from our Liturgical prayer we are led into the contemplative Presence of 
God through the day, and our prayerf ulness during the day will lead us back in- 
to a more fervent celebration of the Liturgy: 

The whole life of the Monastery is seen as a 
prolongation of the Liturgical function: the 
silence, the habit, the customs are all a sym- 
bolic and lyric expression of the interior at- 
titude of Liturgical worship. (V. Walgrave, 
O.P., Dominican Sct^-Appia-Usal) 

If you throw yourself wholeheartedly into Li- 
turgical prayer, it cannot fail to take pos- 
session of you, body and soul. It will color 
your thoughts with the varied hues of super- 
natural life, imbue your will and your heart 
with strength and love, and even stir your 
sensible faculties and your whole being so 
that you cry out: "My heart and my flesh re- 
joice in the Living God." (H. Clerissac, O.P., 
The Sptfblt 03 St. Dominic) 

To enter into the deepest spirit of the Liturgy, the ETERNAL DIMENSION, we 
must bring a careful preparation and a concern for the exterior dignity and 
beauty of our worship. But most of all, we must bring our fervor, our rec- 
ollection, our effort to "meditate in our hearts what our lips are recit- 
ing." [Rale Of} St. Aug 116 tine.) 

This is how St. Dominic celebrated the Liturgy: with full voice, with rev- 
erence, with burning love, with his whole soul taken up into the ETERNAL 
DIMENSION of worship. 

Dominic seemed to pierce beyond the veil, to 
see standing the Lamb that was sacrificed. 

(w. Hinnebusch, O.P., Renewal, in the 

o{) St. Domtntc) 

Vatican II states that the Liturgy is a PRIESTLY function. St. Dominic was the 
great priest, and his spiritual life found its deepest inspiration in the Liturgy 
which formed him day by day into one who lived "as if seeing the INVISIBLE." 

As followers of St. Dominic, called to mirror in our lives his prayer and fer- 
vor, we are offered a magnificent challenge in our Constitutions (//80, 
81,96) to live in God's NOW moment: 

-by the joyful celebration of the Liturgy 

which joins us, as the Pilgrim Church, to the 


-and by the transfiguring process of the Lit- 
urgy which leads to the continual remembrance of 


The way to live in this ETERNAL DIMENSION was beautifully exemplified by one 
of our beloved Lufkin foundresses, Mother Mary Dominic of the Holy Cross, 
who radiated the truth she often shared: 

Faith, quickened by the Liturgy, is like a 
higher spiritual sense which allows us to hear 
in the depths of our soul THE ETERNAL HARMONIES 


Lord, Your Presence in the Liturgy and in our hearts 
begins to disclose to us 
the Eternal Way. 

For it begins to image in time 
the Divine Life lived in eternity. 

No longer do we drift along anxiously 

and somewhat confused. 

No longer is our life restricted to the pursuit 

of some casual ambitions 

or the eager fulfillment of a few vital needs. 

Thanks to Your Presence 

daily pursuits receive an eternal significance. 

Failures and successes, 
sufferings and joys 

are taken up in the eternal meaning 
You bestow upon our days. 

The winters of life 

are the dreary periods of f orgetf ulness 

of the eternal spark within. 

But, then, in the Liturgy, 

You lift us beyond the protective safety zone 

into the eternal spring. 

No longer ingrained in our petty endeavors, 

we experience in worship 

how the formative thread of eternity 

weaves in and through the pattern of earthly existence, 

We sense the unfolding movement 

of the Eternal Life within us. 

When we fail to allow the spark of eternity 

to shine forth in our daily doings, 

we may be commended for the efficiency of performance, 

for a job well-attended to, 

but our voyage is no longer an inspiration to 

our fellow travelers. 


Only when your Eternal Life carries us, 
do we sail tranquilly along 
the mysterious voyage of life. 

If we are in touch with the flow of Your Eternal Life, 
we are able to flow gracefully with the tide 
of formative events and situations. 

Your mysterious Presence in our Liturgy 

is the Lighthouse 

that guides our frail ships 

as they toss in the churning waters of history. 

You want our frail barks 

to glide in harmony 

with the Eternal Life 

that is our precious compass. 

Only through You can we know 
the mysteries of Divine Life. 

You tell us that we are called 
to share in that eternal Mystery. 

In our worship 

let us share more and more 

the mystery of Your Presence in the 


And let this overflow 

in the silent celebration of this Presence 

in the depths of our being, 

and radiated to one another day by day. 




Inscape of the Dominican contemplative life, taken from the writings of 
Mother Teresa Maria O.P. of the Monastery of the Mother of God, Olmedo, Spain 
Translation by Sr. Mary of the Holy Cross O.P. , Buffalo 

There is hardly a time when we feel our weakness and nothingness more acutely than 
when we are surrounded by the infinite mystery of God's love, made tangible to us, and 
deeply experienced. What are a novice's thoughts when receiving the habit? Surely 
she feels the mysterious and irresistible attraction of virginity. Certain Dominican 
concepts emerge into the foreground t light and flame ... virginity and love ... a 
clear and refreshing spring bubbling forth in the desert of life . . . virginity . . . 
mature youthfulness ... youthful maturity. To explore the immense field of virginity 
is a task for eternity. Earth yields too little time to sound its depths, we must wait 
for heaven. Yet we know that virginity contains within itself the power to make life 
radiant, to make the many lives touching our own life share in its lightsomeness. 

A novice senses the fragrance of virginity, permeating the long history of the Church. 
She contemplates, delightedly, the panorama of lives which have taken their flight, have 
transcended earth's joys and have come to rest on the heights of "the mountain of myrrh," 
won at the price of valiant warfare. The pilgrims who gained these peaks were not afraid 
of the hard, stony ground they trod with bleeding feet. 

Borrowing a simile from the world of music, the novice feels herself to be a new, liquid 
note added to the marvelous harmonies of a symphony celebrating virginity through the 
centuries. For each person, virginity is something irrepea table, elemental, rich and 
full of light. There are secrets as yet unexplored, to be revealed to the courageous 
soul determined to plunge into its crystalline waters. 

Mary, Virgin most pure, presides over the clothing ceremony. She gazes lovingly at the 
novice, and seems to sayi "See how the mystery of surrender is the mystery of lowliness. 
Because I was lowly, I pleased the Lord. I come to you on your feastday to show you how 
to live your true greatness. If you imitate me, you will learn the secret of life." 

Although the reception of the habit does not bind as do vows, still, love lays claim to 
everything; there are no limits to our surrender. It takes but a moment to don the habit, 
but this moment has eternal repercussions, matching eternal love. Only in heaven will we 
see the true splendor of this moment, when our gaze was first fixed on eternity. 

A monastery might be compared to a blazing hearth where all the sins of humankind are 
consumed. We want our sins, all sins, to be consumed together here. This is the meaning 
of our white habit — synthesis of all colors — and our black cappa, symbol of penitence 
and sorrow. Within its folds we gather our brothers and sisters from the whole world. 
To receive the Dominican habit is to encounter all the world's problems. There is no 
place for half-heartedness, unconcern. The habit means the prolongation of Jesus* life 
on earth: to be Jesus for everyone. It means "trying to make the Lord forget" the sins 
of men, to regard our poor humanity with the same look of love and compassion he cast on 
the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the adulteress, the sinner of Magdala. God hides him- 
self within the folds of this habit, and from there embraces the whole world. My Domini- 
can habit is not for me alone. It is for all mankind. It must communicate to all the 
depth of my adoration, the richness of my surrender to God. 

Clothing day is a feast of renewal for the whole community. Actually, it is a daily 
event. Daily we don the habit. If at times the atmosphere seems gray, the whiteness of 


our habit shines through; it gives a tone of luminous clarity to "the dark and cloudy 

day. Clothing day is only the beginning. To begin is a great thing in life, but it 

is not everything. We set our sights on the goal, we would walk with unflagging steps, 

with no dijnlnishment of our desires and ideals. Something begun in time and carried into 
eternity: this is the message of our Dominican habit. 

Those who witness a clothing ceremony are filled with awe. A monastery reveals the foot- 
prints of God among men, and when it opens a small window to the outside world, that 
world may gaze through the aperture upon the truth, beauty, light, the sincere and guile- 
less happiness within. It is fascinated by the joy it glimpses "through the lattice"-' — 
a joy it seeks without ever finding, since this joy is not in things, where most seek 

Those who do not know think of a cloister as dark, sombre, colorless. But our monasteries 
are joyful places, where love's song unfolds without pause. All is joy, all is beauty, 
like our habit. Our lives are lived in hiddenness and silence, wherein the eyes of the 
divine Artist may enjoy what he himself has created, — he who knows fully the intimate 
marvels of virginity, pure surrender and strong love, all hid within a poor, simple 
white tunic: our Dominican habit. 4 


1. This "sample from Spain" could be seen as a commentary on the Basic Constitution of 
the Nuns, SV. 

2. Cf. Ezechiel 4: 12 

3. Song of Songs, 2: 9 

4. The above reflections were written before the reception of the habit became a private 
ceremony. Nevertheless, the spirit animating them remains the same', the habit is the 
symbol of inner conversion and a constant reminder of this goal. 


-92- ^ 



(John Cassian - Institutes , Book 12:32-43) Sister M. Catherine, ( 


After waiting for so many days in humble pleading at the entrance to the Mona- 
stery you are to be admitted today. We want you to know why we have delayed entrance 
and made it so difficult for you, because it will be a great help to you for 
your future monastic journey to understand its method so that you can embrace the 
service of Christ in the right way. Just as great glory is promised to those who 
faithfully serve God and cling to him by means of monastic observance, so shall they 
be punished who are cold and careless and fail to show forth the fruits of holiness 
which they have professed, and which outsiders expect to see in them. For it is 
written in Scripture: "Fulfill what you have vowed. You had better not make a vow 
than make it and not fulfill it " (Eccl. 5:3-4). For this reason we made your en- 
trance into the Monastery difficult, not because we do not wholehearedly desire your 
salvation and would not willingly seek out those longing for conversion to Christ, 
even those far off, but because we feared to act imprudently and hastily without 
being sure that you understood the responsibility of your profession and so might 
later become careless or abandon it. 

Therefore, you must first learn the real reason for renunciation of the world 
so that you can learn how you should conduct yourself as a result. Renunciation is 
nothing but the concrete way to live the doctrine of the Cross. Today you die to 
this world and to its ways of acting, its values and attractions. As St. Paul puts 
it: 'You are crucified to this world and this world to you ' (cf. Gal. 6:14). Pon- 
der deeply on the Cross and its demands, for it is like a sacrament to you guiding 
your life from now on, since you no longer live but he lives in you who was cruci- 
fied for you (cf. Gal. 2:20)jW We must all, therefore, spend every moment of our 
lives carrying out the dying of Jesus, nailed to the cross with him in spirit 
(2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 2:19). We come to know the fear of the Lord (Is. 11:2-3) through 
a penitential life and the mortification of all sinful attractions. These are put to 
death by means of the power of his redemptive death and in imitation of him. In 
this way we heed his word addressed to each of us: "He who does not take up his cross 
and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:38). 

You might feel inclined to ask: how can a person carry his cross at all times 
or really accept crucifixion in himself? It is in this way: the fear of the Lord 
is our cross. 31 ' Now, when someone is literally nailed to a cross he loses all freedom 
of movement. In the same way, we must affix all of our inclinations and desires to 
the law of the Lord. A person dying on a cross hardly gives a thought to the 
pleasures of earth or to its problems and cares, or the possessions he had amassed; 
nor does he worry over past injuries or indulge in competition or useless ambition. 
He looks only to the liberation and joy which lie beyond the gates of death. So* 
you too should die in spirit and thought and desire not only to your sins and vices 
but to all attachment to the affairs of life in the world, and keep the gaze of your 
mind fixed on heaven where you hope to go after a brief life/*"' 

And so you must be very vigilant so as not to slacken your pace or turn back and 
take up again all that you have renounced,— whether it be family life, pleasure, 
material possessions or ambitions , -and rebel against the demands of Christ which 
lead to perfection. Turning back after putting your hand to the plow makes you 
unfit for his kingdom (Luke 9:62). You must be careful, too, when after effort and 
study you have begun to savor the words of the psalms and the knowledge of the spir- 
itual way fi that you do not subtly become proud over your knowledge and lose the 
solid foundation of humility. Rather, once you have begun well, continue to the end 
in that nakedness of material and spiritual poverty of which you have made profession 
in the sight of God and his angels. 


Recalling the patience and humility with which you awaited admittance to the 
Monastery, go forward steadily in these virtues, for he who perseveres to the end 
will be saved (Matt. 24:13). The one who first tempted Adam and Eve^-is always 
waiting to trip you up; so I repeat, persevere in the humility and poverty of Christ 
in which you have made profession in his presence. As Scripture says: "My son, when 
you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials" (Sir. 2:1), not for repose 
or delightful pleasures, f or "through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of 
God" (Acts 14:22) and "strait is the gate and narrow the way which leads to life and 
few there are who find it" (Matt. 7:14). "Many are called but few are chosen" 
(Matt. 20:16) to be 'the little flock to receive the inheritance' (cf. Luke 12:32). 

This state of perfection can be reached in the following way.' The beginning 
and the safeguard of salvation is fear of the Lord because it is through this gift 
that we are enabled to make a start at our conversion and begin to eliminate our 
vices and establish a life of virtue. This beginning changes our attitude so that 
worldly interests no longer hold the same attraction, and so lose their influence-* 
and family ties do not dominate us. This attitude of detachment from all that is 
not God gradually produces humility. True humility can be discerned by the following 
signs: if one's natural desires and inclinations are lost in God's will; if one is 
utterly simple and genuine in letting one's words and actions reveal what one truly is 
without concealing anything out of vanity or human respect; if one is perfectly 
open and trusting towards others, and affable and docile to superiors, never losing 
patience or a gentle spirit; if one is concerned not to injure others but at the 
same time is able to overlook injuries done to oneself; if one has a great respect 
for monastic observance and is inclined to imitate the exemplary life of one's 
elders; if one is contented with ordinary tasks and common duties and makes no 
demands from an exalted opinion of oneself; if one openly acknowledges faults and 
is always aware of areas where one can improve one's manner of life; if one esteems 
others and is inclined to notice their virtues in contrast to one's own shortcomings; 
if one is attentive to what one says and does not talk indiscreetly _>r act osten- 
tatiously so as to attract notice. The humility which slowly becomes a part of 
one's being as a result of this habitual way of thinking and acting will lead one 
to that higher plane which is love, that perfect love which knows no fear (I John 4:18) 
Then one is no longer concerned with punishment but delights in a virtuous life 
which reflects the Author of all virtue. 

If you look about you, you will discover among your community some who exemplify 
this virtuous life, who have been tested, refined and purified. Such models of mon- 
astic life offer the best means of instruction and formation to you.^- But beyond this, 
true wisdom requires that you remain as one who is blind and deaf and dumb: blind to 
all that is unedifying in the behavior of others so as not to be influenced by it; 
deaf to any insolent or disparaging remarks so as not to imitate them, and as if 
you never heard them. And even if you yourself are wronged or insulted, remain 
silent -and do not retaliate, but rather, sing in your heart the words of the psalm: 
"I said I will be heedful of my ways for fear I should sin with my tongue. I set a 
guard to my mouth when the sinner stood before me; I kept dumb and silent and re- 
frained from rash speech" (Ps. 39:2-3). Above everything else, remember the admon- 
ition of the Apostle and take on the attitude he proposes: "Let no one delude him- 
self. If any one of you thinks he is wise in a worldly way, he had better become 
a fool. In that way i^e will really be wise, for the wisdom of this world is ab- 
surdity with God" (I Cor. 3:18). Obey with simplicity and faith, without the cal- 
culations of the worldly wise. Then you will be secure in time of temptation. 
You should not expect to learn patience from the virtue of others, thinking that 
it is only when you find others affable and you feel well disposed and not irritated 
by them in any way that you will be able to practice this virtue. It is not within 
your power to avoid feelings of irritation. Rather, you should look for the fruits 
of patience from your own determined effort to practice humility and to bear with the 
faults of others. It is your will that matters, not their attitude or action. 


I will now make a summary of all I have said so that you may be able to keep 
it before your mind and in your heart always. Briefly, then, this is how you can 
mount the heights of perfection without difficulty or strain. The beginning of 
our salvation and of wisdom (Ps. 111:10), as Scripture tells us, is the fear of 
the Lord. From the fear of the Lord comes salutary compunction of heart. From 
this springs renunciation, that is, absolute material and spiritual poverty. From 
such nakedness before God humility is born, and with this we die to all selfish 
desires, and so our faults are rooted out and virtues spring up in their place. 
When virtue is fully developed we come to know purity of heart. Finally, through 
purity of heart we receive the crowning grace of perfect apostolic love.y 

* * * *********** 


1) This so-called "homily" is a free and selective rendering of the text of Book 12 
Chapters 32 - A3 of the Institutes of John Cassian. It is the result of per- 
sonal reflection at the time of my profession anniversary. It is also an attempt to 
present the material in these chapters as a single, continuous exhortation adapted to our 
our modern mentality. Cassian himself presents his text as his own recollection of 

the words of one of the Egyptian desert Fathers, Abbot Pinufius, on the occasion of 
the admission of a new brother to the monastic life. The life is laid before the 
candidate in stark and uncompromising tones as a conversion to Christ by means of 
total renunciation described in terms of the cross and made possible by the gift 
of the fear of the Lord. 

2) The author, near the beginning of his discourse, quotes the Letter of St. 
Paul to the Galatians (2:19-20) thus placing this human work of renunciation 
under the power of Christ who lives in the candidate and activates the work by 
divine grace. The discourse has a Christo-centric and sacramental background, 
implying Baptism and probably Eucharist which the early monks received daily 
even though the Liturgy of the Eucharist was celebrated only once or twice a 
week. The candidate's whole consciousness, all he does and is, must be in Christ 

and for Christ. His whole life is to be a conversion to Christ, a putting on of 
the humility and poverty of Christy He must embrace the service of Christ, never 
rebel against the demands of Christ, bear the cross of Christ within himself. 

3) The fear of the Lord, as it is described throughout Scripture, is basically 
a sense of reverence and awe in the presence of God, an attitude of worship 
(Deut. 10:12). It is a gift which God gives to those who are open to his Word, 

who listen to it and carry it out in their lives (Deut. 6:2; 8:6; Pss. 111(112) :1; 
118(119) :63; Sir. 2:15-21). By this submission of one's will to God one comes to 
a certain knowledge of God from experience and to a consciousness of one's rela- 
tionship with him which gradually develops into intimacy. There is a close asso- 
ciation between fear of the Lord and the gift of wisdom. Fear of the Lord is 
the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Sir. 1:12; Prov. 1:7; 9:10), the root and 
crown of wisdom (Sir. 1:14-18), instruction in wisdom (Prov. 15:33). It produces 
a joyful heart (Sir. li'9-11; Ps. 85(86): 11). One who fears the Lord turns to him 
wholeheartedly (Sir. 21:7), trusts him always (Sir. 2:7-9: Prov. 14:26; 23:17; 
Ps. 24(25): 12), is obedient and completely submissive to him in his revealed Word 
and in his human representatives (Sir. 3:8; 7:31; Prov. 24:21), and will have a 
right relationship with his neighbor (Lev. 19:14,32; Sir. 27:4). God's loving 
kindness and providence will guide him through life (Pss. 32 (33) : 18; 102 (103) : 11, 17; 
Sir. 15:20; 34:14-19). It brings about repentance, healing and the favor 
of God (Mai. 3:7,16-17,20). In the Gospel, Jesus often exhorts his followers to 
this reverential fear of God (Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5; Matt. 5:21-30; 18:23-35; 


13:24-30; etc.)* The primitive Church was known for its reverential fear of God 
(Acts 10:2,22,35; 2 Cor. 7:1; I Pet. 2:17; etc.). Finally, because of the 
Christian's new status as a child of God in Christ this reverential fear is ab- 
sorbed in and perfected by love (Rom. 8:15; I John 4:18). 

(The source for most of this material is: John E. Steinmueller , S.T.D. and 
Kathryn Sullivan, R.S.C.J., Ph.D., "Fear of God", Catholic Biblical Encyclopedia , 
New York, Joseph Wagner, Inc. Vol I, 1956, p. 361 f., Vol. II, 1950, p. 234 f.) 

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica , gives his own analysis: 
"Filial fear holds the first place, as it were, among the gifts of the Holy Ghost, 
in the ascending order, and the last place, in the descending order... Fear cuts 
off the source of pride, for which reason it is bestowed as a remedy against pridt 
Yet it does not follow that it is the same as the virtue of humility, but that it 
is its origin" (II^II q.19, a 9). "This fear decreases as charity increases... 
since the more a man loves God, the less he fears punishment; first, because he 
thinks less of his own good ;... secondly , because the faster he clings, the more 
confident he is of the reward... The fear of God not only begins but perfects 
wisdom, whereby we love God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves" 
(II-II q. 19, a 10). 

Thomas brings out the connection between poverty of spirit, which is the first 

beatitude, and the gift of fear of the Lord: 

"Poverty of spirit properly corresponds to fear. Because, since it belongs 
to filial fear to show reverence and submission to God, whatever results 
from this submission belongs to the gift of fear. Now from the very fact 
that a man submits to God it follows that he ceases to seek greatness either 
in himself or in another but seeks it only in God... If a man fear God per- 
fectly, he does not, by pride, seek greatness either in himself or in ex- 
ternal goods, viz. , honors and riches. In either case this proceeds from 
poverty of spirit, insofar as the latter denotes. .. the renunciation of 
worldly goods which is done in spirit, i.e., by one's own will, through the 
instigation of the Holy Spirit. .. Since a beatitude is an act of perfect 
virtue, all the beatitudes belong to the perfection of spiritual life. And 
this perfection seems to require that whoever would strive to obtain a per- 
fect share of spiritual goods, needs to begin by despising earthly goods, 
wherefore fear holds the first place among the gifts. Perfection, however, 
does not consist in the renunciation itself of temporal goods; since this 
is the way to perfection: whereas filial fear, to which the beatitude of 
poverty corresponds, is consistent with the perfection of wisdom. . .whoever 
fears God and is subject to him, takes no delight in things other than God" 
(II-II q 19, a 12). 

The analysis of St. Thomas helps to clarify the meaning of the gift of fear of 
the Lord and to situate it within the process of spiritual growth. It is the 
grace which initiates conversion of life ( conversatio mo rum : one of the vows in 
the Benedictine monastic tradition). It is the gift which turns one around in 
a withdrawal from the self idolized under various forms and moves one towards God in 
total reverence, obedience and worship with the whole of one's being, in an all 
embracing attitude of ( humility, until the perfection of love is reached. This 
movement involves a renunciation of all that is not God in progressive degrees. 
It is expressed within fraternal relationships. Community life is the arena 
wherein one strips away vice and practices virtue: patience, mercy, ohedience, 
and the candidness of absolute truth. This truth is a complete openness before 
God and others, without hidden agenda or defenses. All of this leads to that 
losing of the false , autonomous self for Christ's sake which is a true self 
discovery in God. 


4) The monk's vision and desire is eschatological, and his break with this world 
is radical. He must never turn back or even look back, have no concern for this life 
or worldly affairs. He must fix his gaze on heaven, continually move forward by 
renunciation and the practice of virtue, never slacken his pace, persevere to 
the end. Ancient monasticism took a much more uncompromising stance towards the 
world than we do today. Since Vatican Council II we have been in the process of 
searching out the relationship of the Church to the modern world, but there is 
still an aspect of the world which must be totally rejected . Discernment is 
constantly needed in order to keep the distinction clear. 

5) This is the only explicit reference to prayer, understood here as a savoring of tl 
Psalms so that their thought and aspiration become a part of one's own mentality 

and orientation of heart. The term lectio divina was coined later. Prayer 
is to be understood more generally, in the context of the entire "homily , as 
that continuous and all embracing movement beginning with the fear of the Lord 
and ascending through purity of heart to perfect love. 

6) Chapter 38 is concerned with the contrast between the first man and woman 
created in God's image who tarnished that image by the original sin and its 
effect, and the 'new man' restored to God's image in Christ who is himself the 
perfect image. This is a frequent theme in the Fathers. It envisages the 
entire plan of God in a comprehensive way as it is presented to us from the 
first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) down through St. Paul's explanation of 
Christ as the new Adam. 

7) The description of the spiritual ascent which makes up Chapter 39 is 

adapted by St. Benedict in Chapter 7 of his Rule. Benedict speaks of these steps 

in terms of Jacob's ladder (Gen. 28:12): 

" which we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility. Now 
the' ladder erected is our life on earth, and if we humble our hearts 
the Lord will raise it to heaven" (RB 7:7-8). 
It is the work of God and a total reversal of human values. It begins, as in 
Cassian, with the fear of the Lord and reaches the summit with "that perfect 
love which casts out fear" (7:67). The inbetween steps are basically the same as 
in Cassian with some variations. The whole is intended to indicate a progression 
from the internal disposition to the exterior manifestation. Cassian has 10 
signs; Benedict lists 12 steps. (This information is taken from: RB 1980, Ed. 
Thomas Fry, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1981. pp. 193-203) 

St. Thomas Aquinas (ST II-II q. 161, a. 6) has an article on Benedict's 
scheme of humility. In his exposition he never refers to Cassian but only to 


"The inward disposition of humility leads to certain outward signs in 
words, deeds and gestures, which manifest that which is hidden within, 
as happens also with the other virtues. . .Wherefore the aforesaid de- 
grees of humility include something regarding the root of humility, 
namely the twelfth degree, that a man fear God and bear all his com- 
mandments in mind." 
Thomas continues with' his enumeration of the degrees of humility, but describ- 
es them in reverse order. He concludes in his reply to Objection 2: 

"Man arrives at humility in two ways. First and chiefly by a gift of 
grace, and in this way the inner man precedes the outward man. The 
other way is by human effort, whereby he first of all restrains the 
outward man, and afterwards succeeds in plucking out the inward root. 
It is according to this order that the degrees of humility are here 
enumerated. " 


8) Except for Holy Scripture, the principal source of knowledge for the early monks 
was the experiential wisdom exemplified and handed on by their elders and prede- 
cessors, one or more of whom was chosen by the neophyte as disciple to spiritual 
father. Gradually, the sayings of these holy men were transmitted orally and also 
written down. The primitive monastic rules had this quality of simple wisdom about 
them and were expressed in pithy sayings. The Rule of St. Benedict, though it came 
somewhat later in time, retained this quality. 

9) The 'apostolic love' mentioned in the last sentence does not refer to apos- 
tolate or missionary outreach in the modern sense, or to that zeal for the sal- 
vation of others which is so characteristically Dominican. In writings which 
precede the middle ages the terra almost always designated the imitation of the 
apostles as the first and exemplary followers of Christ who taught them the 
way to perfection. 

Since, as Dominicans, we are heirs of this monastic tradition, we can find 
the principal themes contained in this homily traced throughout our present Consti- 
tutions. The following are notable: Christ centered focus (Basic Const. II, III, IV, 
V; 23, 24 II, 31 I, 40 I, 70, 80 I, 81, 87 IV, 94, 101, 108, 118 I, 118 III, 125 III); 
poverty (33 I, 160 II); renunciation (BC III,V, 29 I, 33 I, II, 41, 108, 125 II, 
160 II); the cross (67 I, 80 IV, 125 III); seek , fix attention (BC II, IV, 13 I, 
80 IV, 93,) humility (5, 70, 74, 115, 121 II, 125 II); obedience (BC VI, 23, 24 II, 
III, 121 I); perfection , perfect love (BC 11,24, 67 II, 118 III, 125 II); silence 
(BC VI, 80 IV); purity of heart (BC III, 29 II); way of life : conversatio (BC II, 
40 I, 118 I); eschatological thrust (BC III, 40 I, 41); prayenpsalms (BC V, 80 II); 
elders as formators (118 III, 121 II, III, 125 I). 


Our Lady of Guadalupe 

Time cannot dim your loveliness, 
Ever-fresh flower of the height. 
Hover like a beacon over our land, 
Make our Faith firm and bright. 

In your dark eyes where 
The splendors of heaven still nest, 
Pupil us there with Juan Diego, 
forever sheltered, forever blest. 

Chasten in your compassionate hands 
The dripping tears of penitence. 
Clasp in your loving hold 

Untroubled innocence. 

Give each little one attention 

In your welcoming grace. 

Enfold in your motherly gaze 

Our country, the whole human race. 

Sister iwary Joseph, O.P 
Los Angeles, CA. 



Sister Mary Emily, O.P. 

When Teresa of Avila took pen in hand to compose her greatest work, The 
Interior Castle, in the year 1577, she envisioned it as a structure de- 
scribing the ways and stages to union with God. In the castle there are seven 
different categories or dwelling places, and each of these seven dwelling 
places has many different rooms, in order to accomodate a divergency of people and 
personalities. Thus, for example, although a Charles de Foucauld and a St. 
Francis de Sales both may experience the first dwelling places at the outset 
of the spiritual life, one will fit into some rooms that the other will not, 
since in most respects their lives were in sharp contrast to each other. 

The purpose of this stud}' is to attempt to place Blessed Elizabeth of 
the Trinity in the dwelling places that fit her particular personality and re- 
ligious orientation. It seems appropriate to do so since the etymology of the 
name Elizabeth means 'house of God'. It is upon this house concept that 
Teresa bases The Interior Castle. 

"I shall now speak about that which will provide us with a ba- 
sis to begin. It is that we consider our soul to be like a 
castle made entirely out of a diamond or a very clear crystal, 
in which there are man)' dwelling places." 1.) 

The appropriateness of this placement of Elizabeth in the interior cas- 
tle is further augmented by the realization that Elizabeth's principal thrust 
was towards the mystery of the Trinity in its relationship with the human 
creature predestined to share in their glory. Teresa, for her part, will let 
her readers see the ultimate goal a soul can hope to attain in its striving 
towards union with the three Divine Persons. This is nothing less than a life 
immersed in the Trinity and transformed into Jesus Christ. Elizabeth , through 
the grace of God, achieved this fullness and transformation. 

If we desire another authority to affirm the clear direction that both Teresa 
and Elizabeth take in their quest of seeking the King in the inner dwelling of 
their soul, we can turn to St. John of the Cross. His words supply sufficent 
endorsement and provide an excellent conclusion to our introduction. 

"Oh, then, "soul, most beautiful among all creatures, so anx- 
ious to know the dwelling place of your Beloved that you 
may go in quest of Him and be united with Him, now we are 
telling you that you yourself are His dwelling and His sa- 
cred chamber and hiding place. This is something of im- 
mense gladness for you to see that all your good and hope 
is so close to you as to be within you, or better, that 
you cannot be without llim. Behold, exclaims the Bride- 
groom: 'the kingdom of God is within you.' (Lk. 17:21) And 
His servant, the apostle St. Paul, declares: 'You are 
the temple of God.' (2 Cor. 6:16)" 2.) 



There are many ways of being in a place, and in the first dwelling pla- 
ces there are a variety of persons. Some are "paralyzed persons" and "infirm", 
that is, those who are not capable of entering the castle. This certainly was 
not true of the young Elizabeth.. Her station, or dwelling place in this 
first stage, was that of vocal prayer and the acquisition of self-knowledge. 
These were the initial steps she took towards curbing her temperament. 

The very young Elizabeth was a demanding, self-willed little tyrant. Fa- 
ther Philipon in The Spiritual Doctrine gives us an excellent picture of the 
three year old Elizabeth who took possession of one of the rooms in the Catez 
home, locked herself in, and proceeded to scream, kick and shout until her de- 
mands and wishes were gratified. 3.) Everyone admitted that this child had 
fire in her blood. This fire would smolder into oversensit iveness and would 
at times burst forth into flames of anger. 

A decisive change occurred at the age of seven with the event of El izabeth' s 
first confession. Her eyes were opened to the truth that God was to be loved 
and feared. This sacramental insight of seeing herself in the light of grace 
set her on a clear course toward the indispensable self-knowledge and humility 
needed to conquer her predominant faults. From now on there were to be no 
offenses willingly committed and her strong will was re-oriented toward a con- 
stant and unremitting check on her quick temper and unruly nature. 

Elizabeth discarded most of her diary notes, but the small collection 
that survives carries this entry, which was written when she was in her teens 
and which is indicative of all these years of personality struggle: 

"Today I had the joy of offering Jesus several sacrifices 
with respect to my dominant fault, but how much they cost 
me.' There I recognize my weakness. When I am unjustly 
reproved, I feel as though the blood were boiling in my 
veins. My whole being rises in revolt! But Our Lord is 
with me. I heard His voice deep down in my heart and 
then I was ready to bear everything for love of Him." 4.) 

Indeed, from her confessional experiences and her growing awareness of 
right and wrong, Elizabeth was being riveted to grace and to a determination 
to conquer all her faults, through an assiduous striving towards growth in 

Concerning self-knowledge, as it is described in the first dwelling 
places, St. Teresa says: 

"Knowing ourselves is something so important that I wouldn't 
want any relaxation ever in this regard." 5) 

The lesson to be learned from the first dwelling places is conversion. 
Without a steadfast change of heart, without a continual return to repentance, 
the rest of the spiritual life will lack serious application and the enter- 
prise will fail. The child Elizabeth took her volcanic nature by the horns; and 
with her inborn, strong will, combined with the help of her mother's skillful 
surveillance and the impetus of God's grace, she set her attention and ener- 


gies towards humility and self-knowledge. 

St. John of the Cross reminds us in the tenth chapter of The Ascent 
that, "hot water loses heat if left uncovered, and aromatic spices when un- 
wrapped eventually lose the strength and pungency of their scent." 6) His 
point here coincides with Teresa's: that if we wish to progress in the love 
of God, we must do our part. We must search out the ways and means of re- 
moving those things that stand as obstacles to the divine love that is offered 

freely through the assistance of grace. This iswhat Elizabeth endeavored 
to do. 


In her first chapter of the second dwelling places, St. Teresa says God 
calls those persons in this second set of rooms or levels to a consideration of 
themselves through different means, according to what is best for the individual 
For some it is through books, others through persons or through things that are 
heard, and yet others are called to a deeper integration with God through e- 
vents , such as illness or trials. Then Teresa remarks that some are brought to 
God, "through a truth that He teaches during the brief moments we spend in 
prayer." 7) 

This more profound awareness of God seems to have touched Elizabeth prima- 
rily through sacramental prayer. The few accounts that are recorded of her 
early encounters with God, of an interior nature, seem to be associated with 
the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. 

Her first confession, and the grace that initiated her conversion, was 
reviewed in the first dwelling places of this paper. Elizabeth's first Commu- 
nion seems to find a niche in these second dwelling places. We see from her 
own words that this day was one of true enlightenment: "I am no longer hungry; 
Our Lord has fed me." 8) This mature appraisal from a child of nine years 
indicates the depths of God's loving touches in one who was still only a small 
bud, not yet come to flower. 

The flowering, however, would begin at fourteen when, again during the re- 
ception of the Eucharist, Elizabeth was interiorly drawn to make a vow of vir- 
ginity. The grace of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord made its 
spiritual impact on her when she heard an interior locution in the form of one 
word as she received the sacred Host. That one word was "Carmel" and,- without 
a doubt, Elizabeth knew it was an indication and an invitation from her Lord 
to enter the Carmelite monastery. These sacramental graces strength- 

ened Elizabeth to live the Christian life perfectly, although this was with her, 
as it is with all of us, a gradual process. Then too, God, through his divine 
Son, was preparing Elizabeth for the spiritual battles that accompany a true 
and sincere striving after perfection so that she might bear the likeness of 
Jesus. ' 

Concerning these spiritual battles, St. Teresa says: 

"The attacks made by devils in a thousand ways afflict the soul 
more in these rooms than in the previous ones. Here the intel- 
lect is more alive and the faculties more skilled. The blows 


"from the artillery strike in such a way that the soul cannot 
fail to hear. " 9) 

There is no doubt that Elizabeth set up a full scale defensive against 
the enemy's attacks. The Reminiscences records the following: 

"Envying the peace of so innocent and faithful a soul , 
the enemy of all good tried to disturb it. In order 
to test his beloved child, God allowed her to go through 
a phase of scruples and interior suffering; but the pa- 
tience of her confessor, which made her realize something 
of the loving-kindness of God Himself, enabled her to 
give him her confidence, and thus she soon recovered her 
peace of mind . " 10) 

The battle with the enemy continued on and on, so that at age thirteen 
we find Elizabeth penning this prayer in her diary to her patron saint as 
she pours out her desire for complete conquest of her faults: 

"Remember, Saint Elizabeth, my patron and heavenly 
protectress that I am your little charge. Come to my 
help in this desert land, and support me in my weak- 
ness. Give me your virtues, your gentle humility, 
and your sublime charity. Pray for me that God may 
change my faults into virtues, as once He changed 
the loaves you were carrying into roses." 11) 

Elizabeth understood from her earliest years the indispensable role 
asceticism plays in the spiritual life and in the attainment of the per- 
fection of the love of God. Her efforts seem to border on the heroic as we 
see in the final entry from her notes. Whether she went to these extremes 
or whether she was exaggerating to carry her point across, there is no way 
of knowing. This much is certain; she was resolute: 

"During the day one can always manage to do something that 
is disagreeable to oneself without being noticed by oth- 
ers. We should never let an hour go by without making a 
a sacrifice, even though it be only a hairpin that pulls 
one's hair, or a match stalk in one's shoe." 12) 

Elizabeth passed through these second dwelling places with flying 
colors, echoing in her manner of approach the counsel of St. John of the 
Cross, who outlines the spirit of detachment in unequivocal terms: 

"Endeavor to be inclined always: 
not to the easiest, but to the most difficult; 
not to the most delightful, but to the hardest; 
not to the most gratifying, but to the less pleasant." 13) 



St. Teresa has the following to say at the outset of these third dwell- 
ing places . 

"T believe that through the goodness of God there are many 
souls in the world who long not to offend his Majesty, 
even guarding themselves against venial sins; they spend 
their time well, practicing works of charity towards 
their neighbors, and are very balanced in their use of 
speech and dress and in the governing of their house- 
holds - those who have them. 14) 

This is certainly an accurate picture of Elizabeth as she grew into wo- 
manhood. She was still young, sixteen and seventeen. She has accustomed 
herself to the rigors of penance, but always in a hidden and unobtrusive 
manner. Prayer has become so all-consuming as to keep her attention fixed 
long after her companions have ceased to pray and have returned to other 
affairs. Her charity is such that she seems to embody St. Pauls, "all 
things to all men." 15) Commenting on this period in her life, Elizabeth 
writes : 

"Being naturally very lively, I was very fond of enjoying 
myself, but even at that age I was on my guard during 
worldly amusements, on account of my disposition. How- 
ever, my resolve to belong wholly to God kept me from be- 
ing attracted to pleasure... When I was invited to lit- 
tle parties, before setting out I used to shut myself in 
my room for a moment's earnest prayer. I knew that I 
was so ardent that I ought to watch myself very carefully." (16) 

By nature and by grace Elizabeth possessed an extremely strong will, but 
by this time it was not something forceful or obvious. Grace had so taken 
the ascendency that all her efforts and struggles, as we have seen, were 
interior. Exteriorly she displayed a calm and graceful demeanor. This is 
very reminiscent of St. Teresa's words, "Don't think He (Our Lord) needs our 
works; He needs the determination of our wills." 17) 

In these third dwelling places the individual is still working hard in 
the ascetical phase of the spiritual life. The epitome of this asceti- 
cism is humility, although assidous prayer and ready penance and mortifica- 
tion also play a paramount role. St. Teresa writes frequently about this 
queen of the virtues - humility - in the third dwelling places. "This per- 
severance includes the condition that you consider yourselves useless ser- 
vants, as St. Paul, or Christ says, and believe that you have not put Our 
Lord under any obligation to grant you these kinds of favors." 18) 

In chapter twq of the third dwelling places, St. Teresa again falls 
back on humility to reinforce her point : 

"With humility present, this stage is a most excellent one. 
If humility is lacking, we will remain here our whole 
life - and with a thousand afflictions and miseries. For 


"perfection as well as its reward does not consist in spiri- 
tual delights but in greater love and in deeds done with 
greater justice and truth." 20) 

The touchstone of Elizabeth's humility is found in her sterling obedi- 
ence, although it is also evidenced in countless other ways. Madame Catez, 
a profoundly good and religious woman, not only refused Elizabeth the pos- 
sibility of a religious vocation, but ordered her not even to speak of it. 
This prohibition lasted six years and all the while Elizabeth adhered humb- 
ly to the will of God manifested through her mother. In her diary Elizabeth 
does not regret or take offense at her mother's decision. All she says with 
regard to her mother is this humble admission: 

"I have thanked God from the bottom of my heart for having 
given me such a mother, one who was gentle and at the same 
time severe, and who could conquer mv terrible character." 


St. Teresa terminates these third dwelling places by exhorting those who 
wish to progress to adhere to a strict obedience: 

"Doing our own will is usually what harms us. And they 
shouldn't seek another of their own making, as they say - 
one who is circumspect about everything; but seek out 
someone who is very free from illusion about the things 
of this world. For in order to know ourselves, it helps 
a great deal to speak with someone who already knows 
the world for what it is." 22) 

Elizabeth carried out this idea with very good balance. She sought the 
advice of the Canon of Carcassonne and others, including the famous Dominican Pere 
Irenee Vallee, who would play a major role in encouraging her spirituality of 
the indwelling presence which eventually completely encompassed all her other 
spiritual endeavors 

St. John of the Cross has said, "He who wants to stand alone without the 
support of a master and guide, will be like the tree that stands alone in a 
field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will 
pick the fruit before it ripens." 23) Elizabeth is a good example of this 
judgment of both John and Teresa. She was humble and obedient; she subjected 
herself to the judgment of qualified authority, both parental and priestly, 
as well as that of the nuns at the Carmel in Dijon, even prior to her entrance 
in that monastery. 


When Elizabeth was eighteen a marvelous effect occurred in her soul. The 
entries in her diary relate the more profound touches of God upon the depths 
of her soul in prayer: 

"The struggle was over by the time I was eighteen. In the 
midst of social gatherings, absorbed as I was by the pre- 
sence of my divine Master and the thought of the morrow's 
Communion, I used to become as though alien and insensible 
to everything around me." 24) 


This was clearly Elizabeth's introduction into infused prayer. She was 
now experiencing those mystical graces that God in his goodness desires for 
all who live in his grace and aspire to love him with all their hearts. 

This second notation from her diary illustrates how Elizabeth was corres- 
ponding to the drawings of God's love on her soul: 

"At present I am reading St. Theresa's 'Way of Perfection'. 
I find it immensely interesting. .. Prayer ! How I love the 
way she speaks of contemplation, the degree of prayer in 
which God does everything (and we do nothing) , when He u- 
nites our soul so closely to Himself that it is no longer 
we who live but God who lives in us... There I recognize 
the moments of sublime ecstasy to which the Master deigned 
to raise me so often during this retreat and again later. 
What can 1 return to Him for so many benefits! After 
these ecstasies, these sublime raptures during which the 
soul forgets everything and sees only her God, how hard 
and difficult ordinary prayer seems. 25) 

This infused prayer, or passive recollection, that Elizabeth experienc- 
ed at this point is explicated by St. Teresa in the fourth dwelling places of 
The Interior Castle : 

"The soul, instead of striving to engage in discourses, 
strives to remain attentive and aware of what the Lord 
is working in it . " 26) 

Then, in her definition of this mystical prayer now begun in the soul, 
St. Teresa expresses it in this way: 

"It seems to me that I have read where it was compared to a 
hedgehog curling up, or a turtle drawing into its shell." 27) 

The operation of God is totally interior. 

It was at this same period in Elizabeth's life that her mother relented, 
allowing her daughter to enter the monastery with the stipulation that she 
wait two more years. During this interval Elizabeth's prayer deepened. Fa- 
ther Philipon captures these recollected movements within Elizabeth in the 
following way: 

"God was raising Elizabeth to the higher stages of prayer, 
and this was obvious when she prayed. She would be seen 
coming slowly up the central aisle in the parish church; 
she would kneel down in her place and be immediately ab- 
sorbed in deep recollection. For a long time she would 
remain motionless, as though wholly possessed by God. Her 
most intimate friend was always struck by the sudden 
change t.'iat would come over Elizabeth the moment she en- 
tered the church to pray. 'She was no longer the same 
person*. " 28) 

During these two years spent in anticipation of her entrance to Carmel, 
Elizabeth matured in the special gift of infused recollection that God had 


given her. Just prior to her entrance into the monastery, Mother Marie of 
Jesus, a former prioress of the Dijon Carmel and foundress of the monastery 
in Paray-le-Monial , observed the following: 

"We used to talk about prayer. Hers was quite simple and 
always the same. The divine Master was within her, fash- 
ioning her according to His desire. She complained that 
she was doing nothing, utterly held captive, as she was, 
by him who was doing everything." 29) 

By the time Elizabeth entered her postulancy it would seem she was be- 
ginning to experience the prayer of quiet that St. Teresa speaks of in the 
first and second chapters of the fourth dwelling places. Here Teresa makes a 
clear distinction between consolations experienced in meditative prayer, and 
spiritual sweetness, which is characteristic of mystical or infused prayer. 

St. Teresa has the following to say about consolations that are concomi- 
tant with ascetical prayer, and which come about through our own efforts: 

"The water coming from the aqueducts is comparable , in my 
opinion, to the consolations I mentioned that are drawn 
from meditation. For we obtain them through thoughts, 
assisting ourselves, using creatures to help our medita- 
tion, and tiring the intellect. 30) 

Spiritual- sweetnesses in prayer are consolations of a different kind than 
the ones just mentioned. These begin, not with ourselves, as they did in as- 
cetical prayer, but in this infused, more deeply recollected prayer that has 
its source in God. We do not bring about the spiritual sweetness, God does; 
He is the source and the initiator. 

These spiritual sweetnesses were certainly experienced by Elizabeth from 
time to time. As we shall see, Elizabeth did not feast constantly on them. 
No, she tasted the bitter nights of faith that accompany all prayer at all 
stages of striving towards union with God. However, she occasionally experi- 
enced the spiritual sweetness St. Teresa speaks about in the fourth dwelling 
places : 

"With this other fount, the water comes from its own source, 
which is God. And since His Majesty desires to do so - 
when He is pleased to grant some supernatural favor - He 
produces this delight with the greatest peace and quiet 
and sweetness in the very interior part of ourselves. I 
don't know from where or how, nor is that happiness and 
delight experienced as are earthly consolations in the 
heart. I mean there is no similarity at the beginning, 
for afterwards the delight fills everything; this water 
overflows through all the dwelling places and faculties un- 
til reaching the body. That is why I said that it begins 
in God and ends in ourselves. 31) 

Before and during her postulancy, amid all the splendors of this interior 
absorption, Elizabeth suddenly stops short in the face of the inevitable spiri- 
tual nights. The night of the senses got off to a good start at the outset of 


her year of novitiate and lasted the entire year. It hit like a raging fire 
to refine and purify this precious treasure. Furthermore, the night of the 
spirit followed quickly in the path of this first trial by fire. A dark 
night of faith accompanied her all the way up the ladder of prayer, rung by 

The Dominican theologian, Fr. Juan G. Arintero, observes that, "by this 
suffering (of the nights), the capacity and the will to suffer are increased." 
32) St. John of the Cross would remind us that, "the purest suffering pro- 
duces the purest understanding." 33) Arintero and John of the Cross both in- 
sist upon the indispensabil i ty of suffering through the nights of purification 
before total union with God. Now that she was acquainted with suffering and had 
acquired a deeper ability to understand, Elizabeth was ready to enter the fifth 
dwelling places . 


In the fifth dwelling places St. Teresa does her readers a good service 
by comparing the life of a silk worm to that of the praying person. In her 
own inimitable words, Teresa describes the life cycle of the silk worm and its 
evolution to the butterfly stage: 

"You must have already heard about His marvels manifested 
in the way silk originates, for only He could have in- 
vented something like that. The silkworms come from seeds 
about the size of little grains of pepper. When the warm 
weather comes and the leaves begin to appear on the mul- 
berry tree, the seeds start to live, for they are dead un- 
til then. The worms nourish themselves on the mulberry 
leaves until, having grown to full size, they settle on 
some twigs. There with their little mouths they them- 
selves go about spinning the silk and making some very 
thick little cocoons in which they enclose themselves. 
The silkworm, which is fat and ugly, then dies, and a lit- 
tle white butterfly, which is very pretty, comes forth 
from the cocoon." 34) 

The most important emphasis here is the death of the silkworm. Teresa 
insists that our 'silkworm', our self love and the 'old man', the sin still in 
us, must die. If we let all that is contrary to grace fall away, then we will 
be ready to evolve into that completeness God desires for us, which is total 
union with himself. Thus, Teresa uses the silkworm and the butterfly as sym- 
bols to denote the complete dying to self and the total transformation process 
that she is encouraging in her writings. 

As has been mentioned, Elizabeth was very familiar with the purifications 
so necessary in the spiritual life. She had become the 'silkworm' and had en- 
tered into the 'cocoon' of darkness and pain, emerging dead to the pomps of this 
this world and its ingratiations in order to fly aloft with the freedom of a 
butterfly to taste the sweetness of the Lord. Yet, even though Elizabeth was 
tending more and more toward the condition of the butterfly, with all that 
Teresa expresses in that analogy, her faith was continually being tested and 


would find its apex in the sixth dwelling places. 

St. Teresa makes it quite clear that authentic prayer at this point is 
not total spiritual sweetness devoid of the nights and trials of faith. This 
is borne out by her words on the vicissitudes that intermingle with the de- 
lights and comforts of these regions of prayer; 

"0 Lord, what new trials begin for this soul! Briefly, in 
one way or another there must be a cross while we live, and 
with respect to anyone who says that after he arrived here 
he always enjoyed rest and delight I would say that he nev- 
er arrived but that perhaps he had experienced some spiri- 
tual delight - if he had entered into the previous dwelling 
places and his experiences had been helped along by natural 
weakness or perhaps even by the devil who gives him peace 
so as afterward to wage much greater war against him." 35) 

One of the loveliest images used by St. Teresa in The Interior Castle 
is that of the soul depicted as wax , with God's operation on the soul de- 
picted as a seal. Teresa explains how she understands this union: 

"Since that soul now surrenders itself into His hands and 
its great love makes it so surrendered that it neither 
knows nor wants anything more than what He wants with 
her (for God will never, in my judgment, grant this fa- 
vor save to a soul that He takes for His own) , He desires 
that, without its understanding how, it may go forth 
from this union impressed with His seal. For indeed, 
the soul does no more in this union than does the wax 
when another impresses a seal on it. The wax doesn't 
impress the seal in order to be disposed, it doesn't 
soften itself but remains still and gives its consent. 
goodness of God; everything must be at a cost to You! 
All you want is our will and that there be no impediment in 
the way." 36 J 

This union acquired through docility results in two dispositions. The 
first is a deep pain felt at the way God is offended, particularly in the 
person of Jesus. Elizabeth felt this pain at offenses against God and ex- 
pressed it in this way in regard to the Church: "I long to cover her (the 
Church) with the blood of the Just One;, of Him who is ever living to make 
intercession for us and to beg his mercy!" 37) 

The second disposition is that of doing the will of God. This attitude 
is progressively stressed throughout The Interior Castle, but here in the 
fifth dwelling places it reaches a solid pitch: a deeper commitment is 
manifested within the soul. Elizabeth's whole behaviorial pattern before and 
during these years in Carmel was modeled upon the law of obedience. In this 
way she steered a clear and straight course towards unbn with God. 

St. Teresa, with consummate wisdom, penetrates these higher regions of 
the spirit by emphasizing the steadfast virtue needed on the part of the 
individual. In those areas of deeper union of prayer and intimacy with God, the 


saint of Avila could not conceive of one's being without the strong backbone of 
a life of virtue. 

"I have said a lot on this subject elsewhere, because I see that 
if we fail in love of neighbor we are lost. May it please 
the Lord that this will never be so; for if you do not fail 
I tell you that you shall receive from His Majesty the union 
that was mentioned. When you see yourselves lacking in this 
love, even though you have devotion and gratifying experi- 
ences that make you think you have reached this stage, and 
you experience some little suspension in the prayer of quiet 
(for to some it then appears that everything has been accom- 
plished) , believe me, you have not reached union. And beg 
Our Lord to give you this perfect love of neighbor. Let His 
majesty have a free hand, for He will give you more than 
you know how to desire because you are striving and making 
every effort to do what you can about this love. And force 
your will to do the will of your Sisters in everything, even 
though you may lose your rights; forget your own good for 
their sakes no matter how much resistance your nature puts 
up; and when the occasion arises strive to accept work your- 
self so as to relieve your neighbor of it. Don't think that 
it won't cost you anything or that you will find everything 
done for you. Look at what our Spouse's love for us cost 
Him; in order to free us from death He died that most pain- 
ful death on the cross." 38) 

The Reminiscences is abundant with accounts of her virtue. Perhaps the 
most striking and credible account is that of one of the elderly nuns who was 
not at all ready to "canonize" her too soon. After a long, studied and mature 
scrutiny of Elizabeth, she offered this statement: 

"I watched the Sister still more carefully and I was obliged 
to own that I had never discovered an imperfection in her. 
Some people have thought that a rather strong expression to 
use in the death notice; but it is, nevertheless, strictly 

"Her perfection was not that of the "upright and down straight " 
irritating sort, but rather so humble and hidden as not 
to exclude some faults of weakness or inadvertance (on the 
part of her Sisters). All the same', I never saw her give way 
to any merely natural impulse. She always seemed to me not 
only faithful but heroic, especially under some particuarly 
difficult circumstances." 39) 

St. Teresa ends the fifth dwelling places by saying that persons who ar- 
rive at this point in the spiritual life experience an early "engagement". It 
is not the spiritual betrothal of the sixth dwelling places, but it is cer- 
tainly a foretaste of it. It is an interior assurance on the part of the in- 
dividual that if this interior fidelity to the will of God and to the love of 
neighbor and of the Church continues and is maintained in an all-embracing way, 
then betrothal to the Beloved is not far off. 

St. John of the Cross sums up all of this in his expressive words: 


"The Bridegroom speaks of the state in this verse saying: 
The bride has entered, that is, she has entered, leaving 
behind everything temporal and natural and all spiritual 
affections, modes, and manners, and has set aside and 
forgotten all temptations, disturbances, pains, solici- 
tudes and cares and is transformed in this high embrace." 40) 


It would be difficult to define with certainty Elizabeth's position in 
these lofty stages of conforming and transforming union that St. Teresa ex- 
plicates in the sixth and seventh dwelling places. Yet, by reason of the puri- 
fying pains of the nights, dealt with in the first chapter of the sixth dwell- 
ing places, and the intestinal illness that crippled Elizabeth's health se- 
verely, we can tie together some threads that intimate the union she had 
attained with the Crucified, that ultimately led to her physical and spiri- 
tual death. 

At the outset of 1906, the year Elizabeth turned 26 years of age, she re- 
marked to the nuns at their recreation, "St. Joseph is the patron of a happy 
death; he will be coming to take me to the Father." 41) Thus, her ten-month 
trek up the hill of Calvary began. First, it was just fatigue and a sharp di- 
minishment in appetite and inability to eat. Finally, it was confinement to 
the monastery infirmary and the inevitable restrictions of a dying invalid. 

The Reminiscences adeptly note the variations of the themeof union that 
symbolized Elizabeth's state: 

"Already directed towards those spiritual heights above suf- 
fering, her soul seemed continually more luminous, and de- 

g^ite her pain she seemed to be already dwelling in the heaven 
of glory. 'I felt Love beside me, like a living being,' 
she said, telling me: 'I wish to live in your company; 
for that reason I wish you to suffer without thinking you 
are suffering, and simply surrender yourself to My ac- 
tion. ' " 42 J 

This union with the human, dying Christ produces in Elizabeth an inef- 
fable flame of love: 

"...Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity surrendered herself 

so fully to its action (the action of the Trinity within 

her) that the living flame of love which she bore in her 

heart was divinely wounding her. One morning she thus 

greeted her Prioress: 'Oh, Mother, a little more and you 

would no f ( have found Laudem Gloriae any more!' "How was 

that?" 'Yesterday evening my soul was powerless, as it 

were, when all at once I felt as though overwhelmed with 

love. No words can describe what I experienced, and at 

the same time it seemed to deal me a mortal wound. I 

think that had it been prolonged, I should have succumbed.'." A3) 


This love, so expressive of Elizabeth's state at this most intense time of her 
life, only deepened as her body deteriorated. She seemed prepared for total 
consummation in the Beloved: 

"It seems as though my body were hanging in a void, and 
my soul in darkness, but it is Love that is dealing 
thus with me. I know it and am glad in my heart.... 
If I had died in my former state of soul, it would 
have been too easy; it is in pure faith that I am de- 
parting and I prefer that. I am more like my Master 
thus, and more in the truth." 44) 

St. Teresa tells us in the Seventh dwelling places that all three Divine 
Persons communicate themselves to those in this lofty transformation. "Laudem 
Gloriae", as Elizabeth liked to define herself, had now found her complete 
identification in Christ and her eternal absorption in "the Three". She 
passed to Light, Life and Love on November 9, the feast of the Dedication of 
a Church. It was a perfect day for the crowning of her life , dedicated to 
Christ and his bride, the Church. 

Sisicr Rlizabcth ol t tic Trinity O.C.I). 
(;ts ;i youiiL' yiil 15 vc;ir s old) 


1) The Interior Castle, Trans, by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio 
Rodroguez, O.C.D. , The Classics of Western Spirituality, (Paulist 
Press: New York, 1979), The First Dwelling Places, ch. 1, No.l 

2) The Collected^ Works of John of the Cross, Trans, by Kiernan Kavanaugh, 
O.C.D. and Otillio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (ICS, Institute of Carmelite 
Studies. Washington, D.C. , 1973) Canticle, Stanza 1, 7, P. 418. 

3) M.M. Philipon, O.P., T he Spiritual Doctrine of Elizabeth of the 
Trinity , (The Newman Press, Westminister, MD, 1961) P.l. 

4) (Mother Germaine of Jesus, O.C.D.), Reminiscences of Sister 
Elizabeth of the Trinity, (The Newman Press, Westminster, MD, 1952)P.12 























4 3 

The Interior Castle , ed. cit., P.43dnl, chap. 2, no. 9. 
The Collected Works of John of the Cross , ed. cit., The Ascent, P. 94 


chapt . 10,no.l. 

The Interior Castle, ed 

cit. , P. 49, In II, Chap. 1, No. 3 
The Reminiscences, ed . cit., P. 4. 

The Interior Castle, ed. cit., P. 49, In II, Chap. 1, No . 3 
The Reminiscences, ed cit., P. 5. 
The Reminiscences, ed . cit., P. 6. 
Ibid. , P. 7. 
The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross 

ed. cit., The Ascent, 

cit. , P. 57, In III, Chap.l, No. 7 

In III, Chap.l , No. 7 

P. 102, Chap. 15, No. 6. 

The Interior Castle, ed 

1 Cor. 9:22. 

The Reminiscences, ed . cit., 

The Interior Castle, ed cit. 

Ibid, P. 59, In III, Chap. 1, 

Ibid, P. 59, In III, Chap. 1, 

Ibid, P. 64, In III , Chap. 2, 

The Reminiscences, ed. cit., 

The Interior CasFle , ed. cit., P. 65, In III, Chap 

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ed 

P . 1 . 
, P. 59 
No. 7. 
No. 8. 
No. 8. 
P. 11. 
P. 65 

!, No 

cit . 


P. 667, 

Sayings of Light and Love, No. 5 

The Reminiscences, ed. cit., P. 15 

M.M. Philipon, O.P., Elizabeth of the Trinity, Spiritual Writings 

(P. J. Kenedy 5 Sons, New York, 19621 , PT28 

The Interior Castle, ed cit., P. 79, In IV, Chap. 3, No. 4 

Ibid, No. 3 

The Spiritual Doctrine of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, 

ed. cit., P. 9. 

The Reminiscences, ed.cit., P. 39. 

The Interior Castle, ed . cit., P. 74, In IV, Chap. 2, No. 3 

Ibid, No. 4 

The Very Reverend John G. Arintero, O.P 

in the Development and Vitality of the Church, Vol. two (B. Herder 

The Mystical Evolution 

P. 91 , In V, Chapt 

Book Co., St. Louis, MO, 1951), P. 189. 
The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ed. cit 
Councils, P. 678, No. 48 
The Interior Castle, ed. cit 
Ibid, P. 94, No. 9 
Ibid, P. 95, No. 12 
The Reminiscences, ed. cit., 
The Interior Castle, ed. cit 

Maxims and 



>. 111. 

, P. 102, No. 12 
P. 78. 

The Reminiscences 

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ed. cit., P. 497, No. 5 

The Reminiscences, ed. cit., P. 153 

Ibid, P. 155. 

Ibid, P. 155. 1 

Ibid, P. 159 

The Interior Castle , ed. cit., P. 179, VII, Chap. 2, No. 6. 



Th. Camelot, O.P.- Translated by Sr. M. Regina, O.P. 

West Springfield 

Is there a crisis in the contemplative life? Among authors who have posed 
this question is Jean Danielou in the article The Monastic Life and its Current 
Problems . (1) Certainly contemplative life in regard to cloistered women has 
known very serious problems in our day. No doubt the least of these are the 
economic and financial ones: in a society in which we do not eat unless we 
produce, it is with anguish that we question the status of those who have chosen 
to be poor and live for God alone. There is also the problem of psychological 
adaptation, and no matter what anyone thinks, it could not be more serious. 
Let's make it clear. The young women of today come from the agitation and inde- 
pendence of a world in which they have already taken on initiatives and resposi- 
bilities which have conditioned them to disdain the so-called passive virtues. 
They see themselves suddenly confronted with a lifestyle which has remained almost 
unchanged since the seventeenth century. The main emphasis is on silence, obedi- 
ence, dependence, renouncement of one's own will and judgment. Not a word can be 
spoken or a gesture made without permission. If these young women do not suffo- 
cate or explode it is indeed a matter for wonder! But with a real vocation to 
the contemplative life and the blessing of coming to a monastery of true contera- 
platives animated by charity and the spirit of the Gospels, while they will 
doubtless experience difficulties and sufferings, personal difficulties involved 
in realizing the equilibrium of the life on a day to day basis, we do not think 
they will encounter problems with the structure which would put the fundamental 
basis of the traditional monastic life into question. One can count on the grace 
of a vocation. 

First and foremost among the elements of personal equilibrium which each 
individual ought to realize are grace, charity and the spirit of the Gospels 
lived in truth. But the community as such also has elements to assure to the 
aspirant, one of the most necessary of these being intellectual and doctrinal 
formation. A contemplative community needs spiritual help. How much they are 
deprived of this! 

As Danielou states in his article, "contemplation, among other things, should 
be rooted in meditation on Scripture and the Fathers. Lectio Divina is necessary 
in order to nourish it. This entails intellectual work, but we must recognize 
that this very element is often ignored." Let us go back over these reflections 
in order to develop them in greater detail. 

The contemplative life is most certainly the highest of vocations. It tends 
to realize on this earth the life of heaven and to be occupied solely in knowing 
and loving God. Already this life seems totally divine and, in a way, almost 
inhuman. Yet grave dangers are lurking: "The corruption of what is best is 
worst." If there aJe admirable attainments there are also great defects. 

It is a life wholly vowed to the love of God — but is there not the risk of 
resting in a totally affective and purely sensible devotion where, without our 

This article originally appeared in the June 1948 issue of La Vie Spirituelle . 


perceiving it, repressed instincts may find satisfaction? It is a life with- 
out any apostolic activit\ — but when a person is thus deprived of the benefits 
of action or the effective exercise of charity, is there not danger of self- 
centeredness? Will this contemplation be anything but introspection or a 
somewhat unhealthy and egotistical analysis of interior states ending in 
inaction and sterilitv or intellectual and spiritual numbness? Who can sound 
the abysses of boredom or morose depression that sometimes are encountered? 
I don't mean to be sarcastic in saying all this, but who can say that these 
dangers are not real? 

How can we avoid catastrophes and assure the radiant opening up of true 
contemplation? Assuredly this can be done by a careful discernment of voca- 
tions which would eliminate self-centered temperaments and those too purely 
affective. In addition, we should offer a wisely balanced life, alternating 
choral office, silent prayer, work and common prayer, solitude and common life 
Together with this belongs a solid spiritual formation which would prudently 
avoid all affective or cerebral exaltation and place the interior life entirely 
on the axle of true humility and true evangelical charity. Yet even this is 
not enough, if we are not concerned with giving contemplation its ob jec t . 

Although the Spirit breathes where He wills, and God can and does give 
the gift of contemplation most often to simple souls who are truly humble 
and loving, .it is nonetheless true that the pathways of grace normally follow 
the ways of human psychology. Contemplation is the activity of knowledge; 
a gaze of faith, a silent gaze, simple and delectable, entirely permeated 
with love. Yet it is a gaze which cannot be without an object. Contemplation 
at its summit will often be more simple than a simple regard, as a Carmelite 
once remarked. It is the delectable perception of the union which creates 
charity, where the distinction between subject and object is obscured. But 
to this "transob jec t ive" contemplation, as the metaphysician would say, must 
we not give an objective support in some way, without which the contemplation 
risks losing itself in vagueness, in useless and gloomy reverie, or on the 
contrary in a sterile and morose introspection? An object to contemplate, 
to gaze on, to love: it is precisely this that many contemplative lives are 
deprived of, without being clearly conscious of the fact. It is this depri- 
vation of doctrinal nourishment, this lack of an object on which to fix one's 
attention, that causes so many vacant, sleepy prayers - mere 'exercises", arid 
and painful. How great is the danger of illuminism or quietism, how subtle 
the temptation to give oneself up to the illusions of the imagination or 
sensibility, or to "those deforming images which too often nourish the piety 
of some nuns . " ( 2 ) 

This object which they need does not have to be fabricated by them, nor 
sought by an introspective analysis of their own consciousness or even by a 
dialectic ascension beginning from creation. It is the mystery of God, 
known and loved in Christ. It is given by faith . It can never be repeated 
enough that contemplation is nothing but the exercise of theological faith 
animated by charity and enlightened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Hut 
"faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) 
If we wish to open souls to contemplation, we must give them the word of God. 
It is this that they hunger for above all. "Lord, give us this food always." 


From the beginning spiritual reading, that is, lectio divina , was tra- 
ditional in the monastic life. We read of St. Anthony the Great, in his Life 
by St. Athanasius, that he was assiduous in reading from his youth. (Ch. 1) 
He found in Scripture the secret of foiling the ruses of the devil. (Ch. 25 ff.) 
His disciples gave themselves up to reading no less than to fasting, psalmody 
and prayer. The monks of the desert of Nitria lived in the meditation of 
Divine Scripture and in the exercise of divine knowledge. The rule of St. 
Pachomius prescribed much reading and uninterrupted meditation of the word 
of God; at all times, whether at work, in the cell, or coming in and going 
out, the monks read or meditated on Scripture. (Rule 3, 6, 18, 37, 59, 60) 
The Treatise on Virginity , falsely attributed to Athanasius, recommends that 
"the virgin should have the word of God ever on her lips. At all times her 
work should be to meditate on Divine Scripture. She should read the Psalter 
and learn the psalms. The rising of the sun should find a book in her hands." 
Let us also recall the program of readings given by St. Jerome to the child 
Paula. (Ep. 107, 12) 

Wishing to restore order in the monastery directed by his sister, St. Augus- 
tine, among other things, prescribed that "books should be asked for each day 
at the appointed times." (Ep. 211, 13) In other words, there are books which 
should be used every day. But at what hours should they be given out and how 
much time each day should be given to reading? The Regula Secunda , or 
Disciplina monasterii , whose connection to the "Rule" is not clearly under- 
stood, (3) g*ives these precise directives: "They will work from morning until 
Sext , and from Sext until None they will devote themselves to reading. And 
at None (that is, three o'clock) the books should be returned." Three hours 
a day given to reading! How far we are from that with our poor little half 
hour each day ! 

The Rule of St. Benedict not only provides that the brothers have time 
for reading and meditating on the psalter and lessons of the Office after 
nightly vigils (Ch. 8), and that after the meal there is to be reading in 
common from the Lives of the Fathers , the Conferences of Cassian, or some 
other edifying book, but the time for reading is also determined in accord- 
ance with the particular seasons. Butler calculates that this affords the 
means of having four hours of reading each day. (4) All should be free to 
read on Sunday except those who have some charge. The lax and negligent 
who have no wish to read or are not able to do so should be sent to work 
even on this day, in order that they may not remain unoccupied. 

To keep within one medieval text we will quote the Constitutions of the 
Dominican Nuns of St. Sixtus in Rome which possibly date back to St. Dominic 
himself. All the sisters should do manual work "except at the hours when 
they should occupy themselves with prayer, with reading , or the preparation 
of the Divine Office or chant, or the study of letters . . . After Vespers all 
should go together to collation where a reading should be made as is the 
custom of the Order, of Citeaux." (5) 

The contemplative life develops initially from the assiduous reading of 

the word of God. And we know that the monastic spirituality of the Middle 

Ages designated various degrees to the Ladder of Monks : reading, meditation, 
prayer and contemplation. (6) 


The prescriptions of the rules and constitutions of religious orders 
concerning "spiritual reading" respond to a vital necessity and have a pro- 
foundly traditional context. Here we are concerned with an essential element 
of the contemplative life which ought not to be dispensed with under any pre- 
text, even when work presses. Superiors are bound to assure their religious 
of this. Would you dream of closing the refectory door in order to give more 
time to the work of gaining daily bread? The nuns do not live on bread alone 
but on every word that goes forth from the mouth of God. One day a Bishop 
who knew the problems of religious life said: "Do you wish to know the spirit- 
ual value of a community? Ask first of all if it is faithful to spiritual 
reading . " 

There is a danger of getting too engrossed in material concerns, and this 
can be said even to active communities who do apostolic work. Is it always 
truly apostolic? Is it so absorbing that it ends up in suffocating the in- 
terior life, making it waste away from lack of air and nourishment? There 
is also a possibility here and there of that false humility which Danielou 
denounced, which is wary of all intellectual aspiration. Another subtle but 
real danger, which we have already mentioned, is illuminism or quietism: a 
sort of intellectual sloth which, under the pretext of prayer and of passivity 
or docility to the action of the Holy Spirit, refuses the labor of reading. 
If, while reading, a balanced and upright soul feels attracted to closing her 
book in order to listen in silence to the Interior Master who speaks without 
the sound of voice, no one should hinder her. But if at the beginning of 
religious life a person habitually substitutes a purely passive prayer for 
attentive and studious reading, this will without doubt become an insidious 
temptation to spiritual sloth. Ultimately the equilibrium of the religious 
life will be harmed. If we burn up the path and go too quickly in this sense, 
later on we may expect long periods of lethargy and spiritual sterility. How 
many aridities have nothing mystical about them! 

The Bishop mentioned previously could have added: skim through the li- 
brary catalogue and notice the books most frequently taken. This is what the 
visitator should examine. It would be so revealing of a community. The nuns 
must certainly read, but what should they read? 

In the first place they should read Holy Scripture. The Bible should be 
read assiduously and meditation made "all day long" on that Law of God which 
is so lovable. (Ps. 118, 97) But the Bible is not always easy reading. (7) 
It demands an initiation as well as sustained labor. The nuns should be given 
this minimum of initiation which is absolutely indispensable, and during the 
years of formation a methodical study of the Bible should be provided for the 
novices. Study scrutinizes the human words which incarnate the Eternal Word, 
and tries to discover the profound divine sense hidden beneath. Only after- 
wards may one pause £o savor at length the spiritual understanding of the 
sacred text and to repose in love. Assiduous, studious reading must be done 
first so that God's word may become familiar and connatural to the contem- 
plative soul. (8) Let us cite some well known examples. Sister Elizabeth 
of the Trinity compiled a very personal collection from the texts of St. Paul, 
and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus would have liked to have known Greek in 
order to be able to read the Gospel in the original text. Neither were 


animated by spiritual pride or an originality of bad alloy. The commentar- 
ies of Father LaGrange are read in monasteries, and I know of a nursing 
sister who carries his commentary on St. John with her on the train as she 
goes to visit the poor. Such assiduity cannot but bear much fruit. 

After the Bible, the writings of the saints should be read, their great 
spiritual and doctrinal works. We are not setting up a program of spiritual 
reading here. (9) We wish simply to recall that a life of authentic prayer 
ought to be nourished from authentic sources. 

We must always return to the masters, to the Fathers, and why not? The 
spiritual writings of St. Augustine, his Commentaries on the Psalms , the 
Tract on St. John , the works of Cassian or St. Gregory have nourished gener- 
ations of monks; should they not be even more accessible to contemplative 
souls today? We are persuaded that if this studious and meditative reading 
exacts true labor sometimes, it will give the monastic soul the true sense of 
her vocation. It is well understood that the family treasures of each relig- 
ious house should be exploited — the ascetical and mystical writings of the 
Benedictines or Cistercians, the doctors of Carmel, St. Catherine of Siena or 
St. Thomas Aquinas. These should be returned to continually without excluding 
the others. Yet we will always find an advantage in returning to the ancient 
authors which nourished our fathers. For example, a Dominican will always 
read with profit the Rule of St. Benedict or the works of Cassian, which formed 
the young St. Thomas Aquinas. (10) 

And if there should be milk for the children, let it be pure and strong — 
The Story of a Soul , for example, a very great book. But the children them- 
selves ought to grow and progress and habituate themselves to solid nourish- 
ment under penalty of remaining sensual. (Cf. 1 Cor., 3:2) It gives me a 
little uneasiness sometimes to see communities entirely taken up with these 
"messages", these "appeals" where an inspiration (without doubt authentically 
supernatural) is suffused in the purely affective or imaginary development 
which can give souls a very empty and deceitful nourishment. (11) We prefer 
very different works, such as The Paschal Mystery (by Bouyer), or Le mystere 
de Dieu . Do not these works offer more for the renewal and refreshment of 
their liturgical and theological life? It may be a little painful, but it 
will be part of the very necessary active purification of the intellect, as 
well as of the imagination and sensibility, by which the soul prepares her- 
self to receive the gift of contemplation. Thus, such reading is doubly 
useful to the life of prayer, both for the nourishment which it provides, 
and for the purifications and simplifications which it brings about. (12) 

Preaching and conferences must be added to reading. Here the responsi- 
bilities of ecclesiastical and religious superiors are engaged, and gravely 
so. At the moment of his arrest, St. Cyprian took care to put the consecrated 
virgins under sheltqr; it should be easy to transpose the example... Superiors 
should assure contemplat ives not only of the annual retreat but also of a 
regular cycle of preaching and conferences. We are not speaking of pious 
exhortations, but of doctrinal teaching. This is indispensable and always 
beneficial. Even very simple souls who have little culture and are incapable 
of the studious reading of which we have been speaking, show that they are 


very open to a commentary following and adapted to Scripture, indeed, even to 
the Summa of St. Thomas. Their contemplative life will be purer, deeper and 
more solid. This field is largely open to priestly activity, and to the 
religious of great apostolic orders. They will not be called on as ordinary 
confessors except in particular circumstances; this is a task which is proper- 
ly pastoral and which risks paralyzing the liberty of their apostolic minis- 
try. But preaching and doctrinal teaching to contemplat ives is for them a 
choice work. Too often the children ask for bread and find no one to break 
it for them. 

We have not yet said anything very new in recalling that assiduous reading 
of the Bible and the works of the saints and masters, traditional in the 
monastic life, is indispensable to the contemplative life; and that this 
studious reading demands a true intellectual effort; study and effort which 
should be proportioned to the measure of each, according to the proper voca- 
tion of each, but from which no one should dispense herself entirely. Even 
the humblest and "smallest" souls should be assured of a solid, authentic 
nourishment. In the world they all learned to read, to discuss, to judge. 
We may well say of them as of Origen's friend, that their love for Jesus is 
not content with a non-reasoned, common faith. They bring legitimate needs 
to the monastery which should be satisfied for the greatest benefit of the 
contemplative life itself. (13) 

It is necessary here to make a clarification which is of some importance. 
I speak of study and intellectual effort. Jean Danielou, in his brief article 
which has served as our point of departure for these reflections, spoke of 
intellectual work. All these words mean the same thing. They might make us 
believe that a female contemplative vocation, and that is what we have in view 
here, is an intellectual vocation, even a scientific one; and that all the 
monasteries ought to favor technical, biblical, patristic, theological studies. 
Nothing could be more false. Some years ago, an otherwise interesting work 
directed toward a great contemplative order, seemingly regretted that the con- 
ditions of the nuns' life, the enclosure, the grilles, etc., prevent them 
from doing erudite research in archives and libraries. Was the meaning of 
their vocation truly unders tood--of a life totally vowed to poverty, solitude, 
silence and prayer? If it is true that certain monasteries have taken a 
clearly studious and intellectual orientation — and they should be praised 
because they maintain a great and fruitful tradition, and at the same time 
respond to the legitimate needs of souls which are perhaps more and more 
numerous — it is nonetheless true that more numerous also are the souls 
attracted to a very humble, simple life. The contemplative life, on this 
point as well, can demand profound renunciations. We have stated firmly 
enough that reading and study ought to go before manual labor. In certain 
monasteries the economic conditions may be such that self support absorbs 
all the time that is not taken for the Office and other regular exercises. (14) 
Did not St. Benedict forsee this for his monks at harvest time? "They should 
not be afflicted because it is by this that they are truly monks living by 
the work of their hands as did our Fathers and the Apostles." (Rule Ch . 48) 


Th e contemplative life can demand even more profound renunciations. A 
young woman is a student or professor. She becomes a Carmelite or Dominican; 
not without suffering perhaps, yet in joy she renounces all that has made up 
her life so far — just as she renounces skiing or swimming, tennis or dancing, 
painting or music, as she renounces social service or Catholic action. The 
intellect has renunciations as well as the heart and body. This is the law 
of the Gospel, and it holds in our times. "He who wishes to come after Me 
and who does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be My disciple." 
Without doubt, this novice will again be able to relish very high and luminous 
spiritual joys, but she will no longer have those long and exalting hours of 
work, research, discovery and assiduous association with the most beautiful 
works and the greatest spirits. All that will be regarded as rubbish for the 
sake of gaining Christ. All is past and left behind in order to know Christ 
and the power of His resurrection and the communion with His sufferings. In 
days ahead she will know only humble, monotonous tasks such as sewing, sweep- 
ing and preparing vegetables. If we wish to "nakedly follow the naked Christ" 
we should know how to go even this far. (15) 

There now remains the Word of God. Yes, certainly, this word scrutinized 
and savored in the conditions we have mentioned will very often procure for 
her joy and light. But Our Lord is terribly exacting and a jealous Master 
and He knows how to refuse even these joys to His spouses. I think now of 
a certain teacher who was an extremely cultivated person. She was famished 
for Scripture study and for the Fathers of the Church. She entered a great 
Benedictine Abbey with this in mind. Following her profession, cerebral 
anemia tenaciously stood in the way of any further intellectual work. 
She lived in this state for seventy years. The most interesting lectures 
seemed empty to her. Study, even the study of Scripture, meant nothing to 
her except a wearisome, dry exercise like all the rest. Living only in the 
most despoiled faith, the poor soul could do no more than be silent and listen 
to the Interior Master who made her taste at length a verse, a word, and that 
was sufficient. How could you speak to her of intellectual work? She had 
left all, gone beyond all; but she had found all. Here there are no more books 
or masters or any pathways. Toda Y Nada . It goes without question, we must 
keep from prematurely engaging anyone in this way. The danger of spiritual 
laxity is always possible and it is for the director to be on the watch. But 
there is also a danger of illusion and of intellectual pretension which is 
not imaginary and would also be disastrous. We should also keep from think- 
ing that this studious effort would supply for the gift of contemplation and 
dispense the soul from humble docility to the breath of the Holy Spirit. 
Humility and charity are primary here. The Holy Spirit is the true and only 
Master and Guide in the paths of prayer. Who can oppose the Spirit of God? 
Who would dare, be it by study or whatever, impose on His sovereign liberty? 
It may well be that to deliver oneself up to intellectual labor, in spite of 
everything, except in the case of obedience and one's duty of state, would be 
to risk paralyzing and stifling the action of the Spirit, which is all liberty 
and spontaneity. Besides, the entire framework of the regular life, liturgy, 
instruction, conferences, would suffice to give this mystical contemplation 
the doctrinal support which it cannot do without. 

And so, between a fallacious spiritual laxity and a vain pretention to 
acquire the secrets "revealed to little ones" simply by intellectual effort, 
the contemplative life, always fostered by God's Word and fixed by it on its 
Divine Object, ought to discover and maintain a vibrant and fruitful equilibrium. 



(1) Dieu vivant , 7 (1946), pp. 59-60 

(2) M.S. Gillet, O.P., Letter to the Dominican Contemplative Nuns, 
March 7, 1930 (Anal. S. Ord . Fr . Praed.. 1930, p. 608). This important 
document, which has inspired us greatly here, merits to be known even outside 
the milieu to which it was directly addressed. We will cite some phrases 
here. "Intellectuals, no; but educated religious, yes... Three stages have 
to be passed ... that of study... that of meditation ... that of contemplation, 

in which the heart prevails over the intellect...." 

(3) Pierre Mandonnet , O.P., St. Dominic and His Work , Paris, 1937; Eng . 
trans, by Sr. Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P. 

(4) C. Butler, Benedictine Monachism 

(5) For lack of a more recent edition, see the text in Balme-Lelaidier , 
Cartulaire ou Histoire Diplomatique de saint Dor.inique , Paris, 1897 

(6) Cf. Guigo II, the Carthusian, Scala Claustralium 

(7) It would seem that an introductory scripture course of a more tech- 
nical nature would help to smooth out difficulties. 

(8) In La lecture sapientielle de la Bible by C. Charlier there are 
interesting and useful notations on the different methods of reading the 
bible — liturgical, cursive, meditative, doctrinal, sapiential. We insist 
on doc trinal reading. 

(9) The rules for novitiates generally prescribe some time for study. 
When this time is not absorbed by "urgent" manual work, it is often more or 
less exclusively consecrated to the study of the constitutions, the rubrics 
and material preparation for the Office, etc. Shall we dare to say that this 
is not the study that souls need, and it does not suffice for the biblical 
and doctrinal nourishment of their prayer? 

(10) Under the heading of curiosity and as an example of wise eclecticism, 
we cite here the readings which Bl. Humbert recommended to the Dominican 
novices as being most apt to 'form, enkindle and strengthen them": the book 

of Hugh (of St. Victor?) on The Discipline, the Cloister of the Soul ; the 

Meditations of St. Bernard; the Meditations and Prayers of -St. Anselm; 

the Confess ions of St. Augustine; the Conferences of Cassian; the Lives and 

Sayings of the Fathers; the Passions and Legends of the saints; the Letter 

to the Brethren of Mt . Dieu , by William of St. Thierry; the Degrees of Pride 

and the Book on the Love of God , both by St. Bernard; the Book of Balaam ; 

the Treatise on the Virtues and Vices , etc. ( De officiis ordinis , ch . V, 

De of ficio magistri noviciorum, XVIII. Ed. Berthier, Rome, 1889) 

(11) cf. the severe remarks of D. Basset, La Vie Spirituelle , Supplement, 2 
(1947), p. 188 


(12) A religious who was paralyzed and bedridden for many years said 
that her prayer had been simplified to one single phrase from Mystere de Dieu 
"With the same intensity that God willed Himself, God willed us for Himself." 
This spoke less to the heart than "my little prey", but it is perhaps more 
true and sane. 

(13) We should speak also of reading at table. If monastic tradition 
has it that the night reading should keep its character of "spiritual", 

we do not believe that we are obliged to keep to pious works at the noonday 
meal, such as the traditional hagiographies . We can profit by some reading 
not only to relax the spirit of the nuns, but to open up their horizon-- 
history, biographies, apostolic or missionary activities, contemporary 
problems of all kinds. 

All this will give them a sense of the needs of the Church and be 
for them a means of coming straight to their Creator. (Rule of St. Benedict, 
Ch . 73) And also, why not say it, to give material for recreational conver- 
sations. Charity can profit by it. 

(14) A wise organization of time and the authentic practice of poverty 
could very often alleviate the necessity of manual work to the greater 
benefit of prayer and the contemplative life. 

(15) It is said that in the masculine contemplative orders vowed to 
study, this last, by the assiduous perseverance it demands, "acriter et 
perseverantes" , and by the renunciations it exacts, takes on an ascetic 
character which makes it the principal observance — and by its influence, 
makes it the best preparation for prayer. 






Book, $zviews 


Templegate, 1980, text 135 pages 

"It is no good our saying, 'All I wanted was 
a little piece of toast." 1 

Father Tugwell tells us that this book grew out of a retreat , and by the same token 
many a retreat could grow out of this book. It is deep, simple, original and 
arresting. In his treatment of the beatitudes, Father avoids all cliches and draws 
his conclusions in bold strokes, making the Scriptures come alive and speak to us 
in challenging tones. But it is not a "shock" book; there is a contemplative calm 
and solidity about it that puts one at rest. A sampling or two will give the 

"We cannot bring the luggage of our past with us 
into the new moment of God's making... as far as 
we are concerned, we must realize that we are 
like children, at the beginning, not the end, of 
a road . " 

"In response to the rather meager demands that we 
often make, our Lord declares, 'It has pleased 
your Father to give you the Kingdom' (Luke 12:32). 
Our expectations must expand, to become at least 
more adequate to God's purpose for us. It is no 
good our saying, 'All I wanted was a little piece 
of toast.'" 

The lucid presentation of Christian traditions, ranging from the patristic ages to 
St. Therese of Lisieux, makes this book especially appropriate for personal pondering 
in quiet times. 

Sr. Mary Thomas, Buffalo 


THE SUMMIT CH01RB00K. By the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey. Published 
by the same. Pages x + 534. Cloth , $20 . 00, quantity discounts available. 

This elegant folio size volume containing 534 hymns is primarily designed tor 
monastic contemplative communities but will surely appeal to discerning lovers 
of liturgical music on' a wider scale. The contents are arranged in two major 
parts: Part I contains hymns for the seasons of the liturgical year, followed 
by those for Sunday and Weekday Hours, The Commons, and Recurrent Texts, that 
is, several settings each of the Te Deum and the Lord's Prayer. Part II is de- 
voted to Feasts of the Saints arranged by their dates, and of which some twenty 
are proper to Dominicans. These are followed by a Supplementary Section with 
special and topical hymns. The twenty-five pages of indexes at the back of the 
book will be a joy to the accompanist and director of Liturgy. 


For the quality of this collection one can do no better than quote T the un- 
forgettable Dr. Erik Routley,' from his comments in the Foreword. He calls it 
"a quite unusual combination of learning and grace. cannot fail to be 
impressed by the delicacy and precision of judgment, the modesty of style, 
the fastidious scholarship, and the remarkable breadth and depth of learning 
which distinguish the work of its learned and godly Editor. I find in these 
pages a poised and dignified joy..," 

As to format, the accompaniments are printed along with the melody line in the 
body of the hymnal. Only one line of the text is placed under the notes, which 
leaves the remaining stanzas in the integrity of their poetic form, a real joy 
for those who might like to muse later on some of the gems contained herein. 

It is safe to predict that this hymnal will wear well. The selections are 
within reach of the average choir, yet demanding enough both textually and 
musically to maintain interest and effectiveness at their height. We are in- 
debted, and will be for many generations to come, to the Nuns of Summit for 
their marvellous contribution to living liturgical worship. 

Sister Mary Magdalen, O.P. 
Farmington Hills, Michigan 


Henri J.M. Kouven: The Way of the Heart . Minnesota, The Seabury Press, 19^1. 

This book found its beginning in a seminar at Yale Divinity School. 
In this seminar, men and women from different religious traditions discussed 
the "way of the heart" as their common journey to God. Father Nouwen develops 
"the way" in a series of moving conferences on SOLITUDE, SILENCE, PRAYER - 
the traditional, core concepts of desert spirituality and ministry. 

First, the author explores the meaning of solitude as a "furnace of trans- 
formation". The desert is the place of struggle against the compulsions of 
the false self. The book also shows how this desert, which need not be a 
geographical one, can a!!nc be the place of encounter with God who offers 
Himself as the substance of man's new self (p. 26). Solitude gives birth to 
compassion, and Father Nouwen singles out Saint Anthony as his key witness to 
this truth. He also thinks that solitude becomes universal when it is united 
with the God of the universe, in Christ and through Christ. 

Silence completes and perfects solitude. In this chapter, the author 
points out that silence makes us pilgrims; it guards our inner fire; it 
teaches us to speak, because timely silence frees the Word for ministry. 
The final point, according to him, is not whether we say much or little, but 
whether our words call forth the compassionate silence of God Himself. Father 
gives emphasis to this: speech is the instrument of this present world and 
silence is the mystery of the world to come. 

Finally, Father Nouwen challenges us to pray always, because prayer is our 
vocation rooted in baptism. He describes prayer as "standing before God with 
the mind in the heart". For Christians, the prayer of the heart is the prayer 


of truth. The author presents the heart as "source of all physical, emotional, 
intellectual, volitional and moral energies - the center of perception and the 
seat of our choices. Above all, it is the ground of being where God dwells, 
and also the inner desert where Satan directs his fiercest attacks (p. 77). 

This book shows us, in contemporary terms, how to approach the world s 
apocalyptic situation with hope, courage and compassion. Reading this book 
is like returning to a familiar and hidden spring of water, and discovering 
it for the first time. 

Sister Maria Rose, O.P. 


Simon Tugwell: Ways of Imperfection. Springfield, Illinois, Templegate, 1935 . 

Father Tugwell makes a very unusual exploration of Christian spirituality 

through the idea of "imperfection" the simple, gar den -variety types of 

imperfection to which we are all prone. The author comes close to Saint Paul 
in his notion of spirituality: Christians, by virtue of their baptism, are 
meant to be spiritual in the sense that they live by the Spirit (Romans 3:14) . 

The book grew out of a series of articles published in Doctrine and Life 
between January 1982 and July 1983* Most of the materials have been revised 
to suit the present format. The cover design was executed by Linda M. Jorgensen, 

Each chapter is supported by a well-annotated bibliography . One whole 
chapter is devoted to Blessed Humbert of Romans and the "grace of preaching". 
The kernel of the Christian message, however, is in Chapter 5 which deals with 
grace. An excellent Index is also provided at the end of the book. 

Father Tugwell i6 a conscientious scholar . He is faithful to his sources 
and to the ascetical discipline of research. However, the essays fall far short 
of giving a history of Christian spirituality. Key movements and key figures 
from the fifteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth centuries are either entirely 
omitted or mentioned in a cursive way. The author himself explains in the 
Preface that the book i6 not a magisterial exposition on spirituality as an 
historical movement; it is not concerned just with prayer and asceticism. 
The book, basically, deals with people's perception of things and the way6 in 
which they try to make sense of the practicalities of Christian living. Father 
selected materials at random from the Apostolic and Desert Fathers down to 
de Caussade and S%int Therese of Lisieux, who never left the "common order of 
things " 

The author has done a good jot in presenting spirituality not as some 
exalted mountain-top beyond the reach of the average Christian. It Is the way 
of all flesh for saints and sinners alike in their individual quest for the 
God of love . The author shows how grace pushes human nature to its uttermost 
limits, by way of imperfections. 

Sister Maria Rose, O.P. 

Op&i fovimv 



When I was hearing Che tapes from the prioresses' meeting on "Authority 
and Obedience", I happened to be reading Community in the Lord by Father Paul 
Hinnebusch, O.P. 

The various ideas presented in Father Paul's writings seemed to me to 
complement those touched upon in the lectures. 

The chapter called "The Charism of Headship" was especially suited to 
this purpose. I have chosen some excerpts. 

"The unique dignity of each individual person in the community 

must always be a prime consideration of every leader. (Emphasis is mine.) 

For the leader carries on the work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, 

who calls each of his sheep by name. The distinctive name of 

each signifies the distinctive place in the Lord's body which 

he can fill only by being the person the Lord wants him to be. 

"Even though each one's vocation is a call to a role in the 
Lord's body, it is first of all a call to a direct personal 
relationship with the Lord himself who is the "bridegroom" - 
not only of the whole body, but also of each individual Christian. 
This call of each to personal intimacy with the Lord is always 
primary , and is to be respected above all else by anyone exercis- 
ing leadership in the body. The leader has to be like John the 
Baptist, pointing only to the Lord, saying: "He must increase, I 
must decrease". (Jn 3:30) 

"In "giving direction then, the leader's aim must always be to show 
each person in his charge how to discern the Spirit's leadings and 
to follow him lovingly, how to hear the bridegroom's voice (Jn 3:29), 
the Good Shepherd's call (Jn 10:3) and thus become the person the 
Lord meant him to be. 

"For the goal of all Christian leadership and spiritual direction 
is to show each person how to let the Holy Spirit be his director. 
The leader helps each to discern the Spirit in his own life, and 
to make personal decisions in mature responsibility. The goal of 
all directi on is full freedom in the Spirit for the one directed, 
so that the one directed more and more assumes full responsibility 
for his personal life and for his role in the body of Christ." 

Since Community in th e Lord was published in 1975, (Ave Maria Press) 
it might be eight or nine years since you have read it. Perhaps it would be 
well worth reading again after pondering the presentations at the meeting on 
"Authority and Obedience". 

For anyone who has not read this book, 1 found it both helpful and de- 
lightful. I especially like chapter one, "The Listening Father", about fam- 
ily life and the first responses of the child to the father. How beautiful 
it is to know that Gcd our Father is bending over us at all times, drawing 
forth responses from us, waiting for our whole being to say: "Abba". 

Sister Mary Rose, O.P. 
West Springfield, Mass. 



Sister Mary of the Holy Spirit, 0, 
Menlo Park 

To use a current phrase which has become popular today one might say: 
Scripture is 'in'; it is the 'in' thing. To non-Catholic Christians this is 
'old hat'. Roman Catholics, however, with their rich heritage of Truth, the 
Sacraments and the living Word of God in the Eucharist, allowed the Word in 
Scripture to remain in the shadows. Today, for many and varied reasons - 
one being that holy Mother Church now urges the faithful to pursue the study 
of the Scriptures - Scripture has come into its own in Catholic circles. 

The Word of God in Scripture, as we well know, can never replace the 
living Word of God in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Word of God in the 
sacrament is God's own Son, through whom we can all cry "Abba". "The Father 
uttered one Word, that Word is his Son, and the Word was made flesh and 
dwelt among us." The words in the Bible are the very words of this Son, the 
Word made flesh, the Word in the bosom of the Father before time began. Through 
this Word all things were made, and all inspired messages came down to us through 
the instrumentality of the prophets. 

God's Word in Scripture leads us into the heart of truth, into love itself. 
One might hear it said today: "I AM in Scripture." The concern of the Lord, 
however, would seem to be not so much that I AM in Scripture, but whether 
Scripture is in me. It would do one little good to know the texts by heart, 
the chapters and verses where each text could be found, if the texts had not 
taken root in one's heart. Are we living witnesses of the Word? Do we show 
forth his Countenance? Do we take means to be peacemakers? 

Each of us is a priest, belonging to the royal priesthood iri Christ. 
Therefore, just as an ordained priest at the altar says: "This is my Body, 
this is my Blood" (Luke 22:10-20), we too, as members of the royal priesthood , 
must be able to say this in all truth, in the first person, in our daily lives. 

"I am the light of the world... I have come that you may have life" (John 8:12 

In our contacts with others are we light bearers? Are we among those who 
lay down their lives, or are we servants who demand payment of the last farthing 
(Matt. 18:23-35), by our "correctness", silence, or fastidious keeping of the 
Rule, thereby spreading not light but darkness in a bitter zeal which has no 
relation to Jesus? 

May it be our joy to have our efforts, our dogmas, our words of Scripture 
coalesce so that we may be the light of Christ's countenance among all with 
whom we come in contact. Let us not ask if we are IN Scripture, but let us ask 
if Scripture is IN us, living and vibrant, so that we may spell out in daily 
living the unfathomable reality of Divine Love. 




Los Angeles 

The Church tells us that, "The celebration of the Eucharist in the sacrifice of 
the Mass is the true origin and purpose shown to the Eucharist outside the Mass." (1) 
As to the Eucharistic Sacrifice itself, many of the documents of the Church have something 
definite to say: 

The Mass is referred to as J'the center and culmination of the whole life of the Christian 
Community." (2) 

"The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, Christians can 
offer the divine Victim to God and offer themselves with it." 13) And in the document 
on the Liturgy on celebrating the Eucharist in which, "the victory and triumph of Christ's 
death are made present." (4) 

In the Document on the Missions we have the Eucharist as- "-the source of perfecting 
the Church." (5) 

Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass which is always being perpetuated 
in some part of the world, Christ as Head of the Mystical Body is continually offering 
praise and honor to the Father in the name of all humanity through the power of the 
Holy Spirit. The document on the Liturgs speaks of the different forms of presence of 
Christ, "The same one now offering through the ministry of priests, who formerK offered 
Himself on the cross." (6) This statement on the Mass has not changed since the Council 
of Trent in 1562 or in Mediator Dei in 1943. Christ is present by His power in the 
priest at Mass by His power in the Sacraments, by His word in Holy Scripture and in 
the community of the faithful gathered together in Christ's name. ( cf MT. 18:20) 

If perhaps, in late years too much stress has been put on the meal or banquet 
part of the Mass, not giving due stress to the true element of sacrifice, this has surely 
not been the fault of the Council Documents but of later misinterpretations. The essence 
of the Mass remains the same now as v*nen it was first instituted by Christ in its proper 
setting. In spite of this true understanding of the Mass by the great majority of the faith- 
ful there have been aberations here and there that have led astray many of the weak as 
to the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Species after the Mass. Still this 
has not affected, but rather increase; the number of the true faithful to express their 
sound and worthy piety. 

Naturally the reservation of the Eucharist for Viaticum, which the Decree tells 
us , _lis the primary reason for reservation,' led down through the years to other forms 
of adoration shown the Sacrament: Benediction, Holy Hours, Forty Hours D'evotion, expo- 
sition periods and finally Perpetual Adoration, even public Corpus Christi Processions. All 
these are based on the solid foundation of properly understanding the Eucharistic Sacrifice 
of the Mass. 

The Eucharist here present in the tabernacle, or in the monstrance contains the entire 
spiritual treasure of the Church. Here Christ is sacramentally present, Body, Blood Soul and Divinity. 
Led by the Holy Spirit, all can come and unite with Christ offering His all to His Father in own 
name. Here all, individually can offer themselves with Him, all their joys and sorrows, their works 
and even all creation. In the Eucharist we are united in a very special way to the Church trium- 
phant, and to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, straining as they are for their entrance to the company 
of the Blessed. We are the Mystical Body united in one Head. In silence and gratitude each person 
can meditate on some aspect of the self-giving sacrifice of Christ and so be stimulated to a greater 
spirit of loving sacrifice. ' It was easier for the early Christians, in a way, to hold the Miss in the 
truly Biblical context of sacrifice and meal, because Christ's sacrifice of Holy Thursday and Good 
Friday were so very poignantly close to their minds and hearts. 

The Eucharist seems to be that indispensable daily need, even more so for contemplate es 
called to live that total self-giving necessary for community life. How otherwise can they grow in 
the ways of simplicity and light-heartedness, of trust and confidence* of abandonment; and so 
gradually become transformed into that wholeness of person, that likeness of Christ (" I live now 
not I, but Christ lives in me." T.he Jerusalem Bible translates it thus: "I have been crucified with Christ , 
and i live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me". Gal. 2:20 ). 

NOTES '■ Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship - no. 900/t3 

Revision of, parts entitled "Holy Communion and worship of the Eucharist 
outside the Mass. " 1974 PP 3 & 4 - Document on Sacred Liturgy 
'Sacroeanctium Concilium ' 

2. Document VIII Christus Dominus' no. 30-2 

3. 'Lumen Gentium' Ch. 2. no. 11 

4. "Sacroeanctium Concilium f Ch. I no. 6 

5. 'Ad Gentes' Ch. VI Missionary cooperation Ch. V no. 39 

6. "Sacrosanctium Concillium' Ch. I no. 7 




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