How to grow a monastery

Here are a couple of videos about the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor – from four to over 100 nuns in less than 15 years, and growing, average age 26.

This one is from a couple of years ago:

And the next, released just recently, as the sisters prepare to open a House of Studies:

On Patheos, a Dominican sister from the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary talks about wearing the habit, as the sisters at Ann Arbor do:

In our Dominican tradition, on the day the young nun receives the habit she is clothed piece-by-piece, by the prioress and novice mistress. It is a passive action. The new sister kneels there and the tunic, belt, scapular, cappa, veil, rosary, and crucifix become the symbol of her intention to become transformed by Christ into the new person reborn through obedience, transfigured by Christ Crucified.

In our monastery the new novice sews none of her future habit. This is because in being given the monastic habit, being given clothing not her own, she becomes a member of this monastic community. From this day forward everything she uses — including everything she wears — belongs to the community. With the community she holds all things in common like the first Christian Community of the Acts of the Apostles. She throws in her lot with this communio trusting that through them God will provide for what she truly needs.

Dominican sister beams with joy on the day of her profession

Sr Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart, alight with joy on the day she professes her vows

The experience of one’s clothing day remains etched in heart and mind. For Dominican nuns, that means etched in lines that are black and white! White for purity; black for penance. Two years after her clothing, a novice will profess vows, and a black veil will be placed on her head signifying that she has become “recognized as a house of prayer . . . and a temple of intercession for all people.”

That’s a tall order. Humanly it is not possible. It is only because God wants it so that the newly professed nun can carry the world in her heart.

We human beings need symbols to remind us that we are not made for this world but, as St. Elizabeth Seton used to say, we are “children of eternity.” Each piece of the habit reminds the person wearing it that she is made for God. The tunic reminds her of the baptismal garment, the scapular is the yoke of Christ and sign of the Virgin Mary’s protection. The leather belt reminds her to follow the commandments and the ways of justice. The cappa, the black cape of the Dominican order, symbolizes that Christ her Beloved has wrapped her in the garments of joy!

Daily she prays as she places the veil on her head, “He has placed a sign upon my brow that I may admit no other lover than Him.”

A nun is still very much a woman and like all women needs to hear that she is loved. If she forgets the language of love, the habit will no longer have meaning to her. The habit is one such token of Christ’s love for His bride if she has ears to hear and eyes to see. Such love can only radiate joy!

About joyfulpapist

JoyfulPapist is an adult convert to Catholicism, with a passion for her God, her faith, and her church.
This entry was posted in Catholic Culture, Catholic Orders and Congregations, Living Catholic lives, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to grow a monastery

  1. Mimi says:

    God bless those Dominican sisters!

    I have a soft spot for Dominicans. I was taught by Dominican nuns from the age of 4 to the age of 18 and I loved every day of it — nothing but good memories, and a sound religious education.

    What a lovely and inspiring exposition of the great importance of wearing the habit!


  2. kathleen says:

    Truly a post to fill our souls with hope and joy! Just look at the face of that beautiful girl as she professes her vows. And what fulfilment and peace are communicated to us by all the nuns who take part in these videos.

    Interesting how it is the more traditional congregations that are doing so well, isn’t it?


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