While we await more concrete norms from the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) regarding the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere (Seeking the Face of God), which was released in the summer of 2016, we have begun to study the text as a community. As we earlier shared in a post, we were able, thanks to the wonders of modern communication, to read an English translation within hours of its official release from embargo.
Recently, with each Handmaid having a personal copy to study and take notes on, we delved further into our reception of the Constitution. In Vultum Dei Quaerere the text identified 12 matters for particular consideration and discernment that would be addressed in forthcoming norms and which the Holy Father was inviting all contemplative nuns to reflect on. Under our Mother Prioress’ direction we plan to move through each point together. After preliminary individual study, all the Sisters gather over a period of days and delve deeper into each point.
As a first step Sisters read and review a particular paragraph in Vultum Dei Quaerere highlighting, for an example, the aspect of silence, and then do the same with the pertinent counterparts in our Rule of Life, as well as other Church documents and Constitutions applicable to the topic. This might be considered preparatory work or “homework” so each Sister has the Church’s guidance fresh in mind for a community chapter from Mother. At the chapter, Mother highlights aspects observed in our life and areas we can work on etc. On another night a Eucharistic Community Holy Hour, allows us to prayerfully digest and silently sit with our Lord with special prayer booklets containing excerpts from the new Constitution, our Rule of Life, our Founder’s sayings, scripture passages relevant to the topic. Even the weekly choir practice can have hymn selections keeping us mindful of the matters Pope Francis has asked us to reflect upon. After a few sessions of study, chapter, and prayer, we discuss the topics during a time of spiritual conversation sharing insights, questions etc.
Like many a cloister in the world, no doubt, we eagerly look forward to the expected norms and seek to use the intervening time to prepare ourselves in any way to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead through the guidance of Holy Mother Church. Keep us in your prayers!