By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
This week’s Wednesday General Audience coincides with the liturgical memorial of the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. Pope Francis recalled that it is the day on which the Church celebrates the World Day of Cloistered Life, or Pro Orantibus Day — the Day for Those Who Pray.
Gratitude for cloistered men and women
Pope Francis reminded all present in St Peter's Square during the General Audience on Wednesday to pray for the many men and women who are cloistered. “There are many”, he said. He continued saying that it is a good “opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves totally to God, in silence, in a hidden life”.
Convention for nuns
Pius XII first asked Catholics to turn their thoughts toward cloistered persons on November 21. “Deepening Vultum Dei Quaerere and Cor Orans” is a convention organized for today’s World Day by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. It is taking place at the Pontifical Lateran University. The nature of this convention is extremely unique. Thanks to the permission granted by Pope Francis, around 300 cloistered women religious are gathering together. There is even one nun from Morocco who is participating. Together they will explore the riches offered to them in two recent Church documents: Vultum Dei Quaerere, by Pope Francis, issued on 29 June 2016; and the implementing instruction, entitled Cor Orans, written by the Vatican Dicastery for consecrated life and issued on 1 April 2018.
Nuns participating in the convention will hear from the Prefect and the Undersecretary of the Vatican Dicastery on Consecrated life, along with a Professor from the Pontifical Lateran University, and three fellow nuns. They will also enjoy moments of sharing among themselves, and together will celebrate their precious vocation to the contemplative life. Their day will conclude with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Archbasilica of St John Lateran.
Renewal of monastic life
The two documents under discussion at the convention are very important for those who have embraced the contemplative life. Both introduce new aspects for the living out of this state of life. They also emphasize the importance of this vocation for the Church and the world. Pope Francis reminded contemplatives in Vultum Dei Quaerere that they intercede for the world like Moses. “Now, as then,” the Pope wrote, “we can conclude that the fate of humanity is decided by the prayerful hearts and uplifted hands of contemplative women."