12 January 2011

Excellent Story and Video about the Solemn Profession of a Poor Clare Nun

Kudos to the St. Louis Review, which posted the video below and also a great article (written by Jennifer Brinker) about the profession of a Poor Clare Nun in St. Louis. These give a respectful yet insightful glimpse into their way of life.

I won't hesitate to put in a plug for two of the many reasons why this order attracts young vocations: 1. The complete dedication to the charism of the order, as evidenced by traditional habit, total enclosure, and contempative prayer; and, 2. The proper liturgical orientation-- though the order apparently uses the vernacular and revised breviary and missal, the placement of the altar guarantees the ad orientem worship assumed by the Council and the rubrics of the novus ordo itself.

From the full story in the Review:

The sign of a woman’s true strength is not a measure of independence or success, but rather her persevering love.

Just ask Sister Mary Christiana of Our Eucharistic King, who recently made her final solemn profession as a member of the Poor Clare nuns.

A native of Ste. Genevieve, the 25-year-old made her final profession at a Mass Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, after six years of formation with the cloistered, contemplative Franciscan community of women religious located in South County, off Telegraph Road.

At that moment, Sister Mary Christiana left behind everything she had — including a culture that encourages women to be independent, successful individuals — and professed for the rest of her life the four vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and enclosure, so that she might live the Gospel in entire poverty, just as Christ did. It was exactly as St Clare did when she founded the community almost 800 years ago in Assisi, Italy.


“It was a nice, quiet place,” she recalled. “I felt (this was) what I had been looking for. It felt like home, even though it wasn’t really home yet.” When her mom, Janet, picked her up after making a first visit there, she told her she knew it was the right place.

Like any mom, she gave a knowing smile. “She just kind of smiled and said, ‘I knew the whole time you’d be cloistered,’” Sister Mary Christiana recalled.

Like her fellow nuns, Sister Mary Christiana was attracted to a life in which she gives herself in prayer for the intentions of the whole world, according to Mother Mary Leo Hoffmann, the community’s abbess. The Poor Clares “dedicate their lives to prayer and to penance,” she said, adding that the idea is to live the Gospel in total poverty, just like St. Francis of Assisi, who inspired and helped St. Clare found the Poor Clares in 1212.

The Poor Clares came to St. Louis in the late 1950s, when then-Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter, invited the community here. The Monastery of St. Clare of the Immaculate Conception was erected in 1958, and the following year, the first nuns came to live here. Today, there are 12 women in the community, ranging
in age from 21 to 69. The majority of them are from St. Louis, but others come from Texas, Kansas, Illinois and the East Coast. Last year, they finished work on an addition that nearly doubled the size of the monastery’s living space.

Sister Mary Elizabeth, novice mistress, said she has seen a slow, but steady increase in the interest from women considering a religious vocation, particularly young women. “Young people … know what the world has to offer, and it’s not fulfilling enough,” she said. “There is more for those of us who have any inkling of who God is and a desire to want to follow His will versus what the world is saying.”
The typical day of a Poor Clare nun includes rising shortly after midnight for Matins, or the midnight Office of Readings. The community returns to bed and then rises again just after 5 a.m. to start the day, which is filled with Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, other prayers and adoration, readings and silent meditation. Each person in the community is assigned to responsibilities for the upkeep of the monastery. One of those duties includes making altar breads.

“It’s a simple day, but it’s full,” explained Sister Mary Christiana.

But don’t expect any of the nuns to tell you the work is mind-numbing.

“There’s so much to read and so much to take in,” she said. “I haven’t used my mind (this) much in my life.”


Join the Poor Clares in prayer

The Poor Clares welcome the public to join them in prayer at the following times in the community’s public chapel, 200 Marycrest Drive in South County.

•Daily Mass at 6:15 a.m., Sundays at 6:30 a.m.
•Benediction at 5 p.m. Sundays
•Holy Hour every first Friday and first Saturday from 7-8 p.m.
•The chapel is open for private prayer during daylight hours
For more information, call (314) 846-2618.

1 comment:

Long-Skirts said...

Absolutely beautiful!!!!
Deo Gratias!!!!!


Cognizant of...
The educated
I've seen how many
Do end...

Where marriage vows
Are lopped, truncated
Though thesis
They'll defend.

For degrees and grants
Until their dead...

But intelligent man
Trusting in God's plan
Bequeath opuses beyond
Death's bed.