Handmaids of the Precious Blood Welcome with Joy New Constitution on Cloistered Life
“Considering this is a Constitution we have been eagerly awaiting for two years, I was surprised to learn of media reports about it using phrases like ‘Pope shakes up cloisters’ and ‘Pope tightens reins’ because our reaction is completely welcoming. We WANT this.” — Rev. Mother Marietta, H.P.B.
It is not surprising that there is often confusion regarding the cloistered life of nuns, but we have to admit that we were taken aback by some of the titles used in media stories about Vultum Dei Quaerere, especially Catholic outlets. So, if anyone asks us, as cloistered nuns, we would like to clarify we are thrilled with the new Constitution.
The Constitution was announced on the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, contemplative par excellence and Apostle to the Apostles, at 10:00 a.m. Rome time and released officially at 12:00 noon. Within hours of that release, Mother Marietta had gotten the English translation downloaded and printed in a format for all the Handmaids to read, review, and pray about. [That’s one fine example of using the new tools of technology in the age of the New Evangelization!]
“We were reading it the day it was released, not reacting in horror as if this was some correction or infringement. As we went through the norms listed at the end, we found we were already living many of them, as have most cloisters around the world. I can hardly fathom any cloister in the world not welcoming this.”
The Community will be preparing individual folders for each Sister with all the relevant sources in order to engage in a communal and prayerful reflection over the next year on each of the twelve areas highlighted in the text.
If you actually read the Constitution, and the references and resources within the text, you see it is more like a ‘booster shot’ for contemplatives. A needed update to the guidelines already given that are addressing important changes in the world situation like technology in media and demographics. But it’s about prayer, and its critical place in the heart of the Church, in the end. Take Verbi Sponsa, for example. This is an Instruction we all study and reflect on, both in formation and ongoing formation as a community. It is not just a list of rules and regulations but a beautiful exposition of power of hidden prayer and the purpose of our lives in the cloister, imitating Christ in prayer alone with his Father and in his Passion. Vultum Dei Quaerere is not any different. It is another development in the life of the Church to assist us in better living our hidden and cloistered vocations in prayer. This is wonderful.
Our Rule of Life stresses that, as a community of Pontifical Rite with Papal Enclosure, we give unswerving loyalty to the Magisterium and the Holy See. We take this as spiritual and practical guidance from Holy Mother Church, through the Holy See. We can see the love and respect for our vocation that went into the crafting of this document. Holy Mother Church has our best interests in mind and is providing helpful guidance to better protect and preserve the primacy of prayer in our lives. How could we not love that and be grateful for that?
“We are looking forward to the norms and directives that will be issued, hopefully soon, in conjunction with this new Constitution and can already unhesitatingly state our joy in being obedient to all the directives of the Holy See and express our gratitude for their diligence in seeking to protect us from anything that can destroy our interior lives and vocations.”