As consecrated women, we embrace with joy our first and foremost duty of assiduous union with God in prayer. As Brides of Christ, our receptivity to God’s love in prayer is the foundation, the wellspring, and the rock of our consecrated life. No detail of our life has meaning nor is effective if it is not rooted in the intimacy we have with Christ, our Bridegroom, in prayer. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). It is in prayer that we come to know our true identity. The poverty of who we are as humble handmaids espouses the extravagant riches of our Bridegroom, the King of Kings. We come to know that our need for Him is as desperate as our need for a breath of air. Prayer is the very fabric of our daily life, permeating all we do or say, whether that be in formal times of prayer, ministry, work, or fraternity. “Finding the fullest meaning of our lives in our union with Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, we desire His presence to penetrate and guide the interweaving of the very fabric of our lives, clothing us with the seamless garment of His life and love” (Constitutions 42) We sustain our unceasing prayer by living a daily rhythm in which we begin with prayer and interweave it throughout the day.
As prayer is the source and foundation of our life, the Eucharist is the living fountain from which our prayer and the rest of our life springs forth. The Eucharist is our most sacred and intimate place of encountering Christ, our Spouse, and it is the life-giving source of our consecration. It is also the summit toward which our whole life is directed. Called to be a total self-donation to the Lord for the salvation of souls, our life finds its fullest meaning and expression in offering and being offered with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In the Eucharist our Bridegroom gives us His heart, vulnerable and broken out of love for us. In receiving Him into our very bodies we experience the sacred consummation of our Spousal love.
We consider the celebration of the Eucharist the most important part of our day and endeavor to bring its graces into all dimensions of our daily life. We ponder this great gift of Christ in our hearts by adoring and contemplating Him in Eucharistic adoration. Here He displays before us His vulnerable Heart and this empowers us to become poor, humble, and vulnerable before Him in prayer and also to give ourselves to others so that they may come to know the merciful love of God. We normally have two Holy Hours everyday. View our prayer schedule. We also have the grace to regularly receive His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to gain the grace to overcome our sins and become more conformed to Christ, our Bridegroom.
In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). We find the fullest meaning of our lives in our union with Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, and we desire His presence to penetrate and guide the interweaving of the very fabric of our lives, clothing us with the seamless garment of His life and love. As we seek for our life to be patterned by His mysteries, we enter fully into the liturgical rhythm of each day, week, and season. Through the Liturgy of the Hours, we endeavor to let the mystery of Christ, realized most fully in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, permeate and transform each period of the day, making it holy. By celebrating the Divine Office, we give ourselves in unceasing prayer through being united with Christ, the High Priest, and His Body the Church, in offering continuous worship and praise of God and interceding for God’s people.
In this spirit, we celebrate Morning and Evening Prayer as the chief hours of the Daily Office, which we usually pray in common. We ordinarily pray Office of Readings and Night Prayer, either in common or individually as determined by each house. Out of reverence and love for Christ’s presence in His Word and in one another, we endeavor to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours prayerfully with contemplative pauses, allowing the Word of God to touch our hearts and strengthen our communion with Him and one another (cf. Constitutions 42). Outside of the Liturgy of the Hours we also have time to ponder the Word of God in Scripture. This is an important part of our growing in intimacy with Christ, to which the Old Testament looks with longing and of whom the New Testament tells with love.
Silence, the friend of all who seek holiness, provides the quiet necessary for us to deepen our intimacy with our Beloved Spouse, to grow in self-knowledge, to gain wisdom for difficult situations, and to become more attentive to the Holy Spirit in our daily life. We seek to respect one another’s interior recollection and the contemplative atmosphere of the house. This fosters an inner stillness and peace. Ordinarily, on Wednesdays and Fridays, which are special days of intercession, we accompany our fasting with greater attention to our silence (cf. Constitutions 60).
Our life of prayer naturally lends itself to times and places of solitude, to be alone in communion with God. Solitude has always been part of our Franciscan tradition. It started with Francis himself who spent more than half the year living in hermitages, and has continued with his followers, including members of the Third Order. Solitude helps us to let go of the distractions we encounter daily and focus on our relationship with our Bridegroom. This union with God in solitude draws us into a profound otherness which embraces the whole world. Francis’ life was powerful, not because he did so much, but because he was centered in God. Desiring this same simplicity in God, we have opportunities for solitude as part of our weekly, monthly, and annual contemplative rhythm of life. In addition to the daily and weekly schedule, these times include regular hermitage days, Days of Renewal, an annual retreat, and other times of solitude as discerned with the community. Places of solitude include our bedrooms, hermitages, and creation. As poor Franciscans, we esteem solitude as one of the treasures God has given us to enrich the Church. (cf. Constitutions 61)
We further seek to follow our Father Francis who “became prayer” itself by being women of praise, always offering God the worship that is so often denied Him by the world. This is achieved concretely by regular times of praise and worship when we sing songs and pray in the Spirit, offer intercessions, and exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Our community encourages exercising these gifts in order to keep alive the spirit of Pentecost in response to Francis’ exhortation to “desire one thing alone, namely the Spirit of God at work within us” (T.O.R. Rule 32).
Our praise is, additionally, always a prayer of intercession and reparation: we pray for those who do not pray, for those who do not love and may even hate God. By our faith in God’s trustworthiness we offer ourselves and our praise for those who do not praise, do not trust in God or thank Him for His steadfast mercy. Seeing how God is blasphemed and slandered by the world, we seek to comfort Him by our words of gratitude and praise.
Flowing from our love of our Crucified Lord, we devote ourselves to meditating on His passion, particularly through making the Way of the Cross. Trusting in God’s mercy, we consecrate our community to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we regularly pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as revealed to St. Faustina (cf. Constitutions 57 and 58).
We foster devotion to Mary as our Mother, honoring her in a special way under the title of Our Mother of Sorrows. We entrust ourselves and the community to her maternal care and intercession. The community and each sister are consecrated to Jesus through Mary. With her, we contemplate the face of our Beloved in the sacred mysteries of His birth, public ministry, passion and death, and resurrection through regularly praying the Rosary. We honor and express our devotion to Mary every day, and in a special way on her feast days (cf. Constitutions 56). Our community also has a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe whom we venerate in a special way.
St. Joseph has always been an important intercessor for us and we pray to him daily. As Franciscans we have a particular devotion to our Seraphic Father St. Francis, St. Clare, and other Franciscan saints. “We nourish our contemplative life through spiritual reading. By reading and reflecting upon the lives and writings of the saints, especially from our Franciscan tradition, Church documents, theology, and other inspirational works, we are strengthened to trust more fully in God and to persevere in living the Gospel” (Constitutions 59).