Dear Religious Family,
Wanting to take advantage of this special year dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena – during which all the Servidoras have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) numerous goodnights, circular letters, prayers and litanies, written and artistic works, conviviums and presentations on the Saint, with the end of deepening our devotion and imitation of her as a model Spouse of Christ and Mystic of the Incarnate Word – our two contemplative communities in Brooklyn, NY were able to organize our first St. Catherine themed “Monastic Days” this past October 13-15.
These three days were dedicated to the study of the Saint’s life and doctrine as related to elements of the contemplative life, as well as studying other aspects of monastic life and spirituality within the Church.
Regarding the latter, our three novices gave presentations on three of the Church’s Magisterial documents on the contemplative life: Venite Seorsum & Verbi Sponsa (which are both Instructions on the Contemplative Life and the Enclosure of Nuns), and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution: Vultum Dei Quaerere. Sr. Holy Face presented on the presence of the contemplative life and cloister in the Code of Canon Law, Sr. Trinité summarized some key addresses St. John Paul II gave to contemplatives during his Pontificate, and Sr. Trône du Roi explained the history of monasticism within the life of the Church, citing principally from Dom Jean Prou’s “Walled about with God.”
Our specifically “Catalinian” talks included:
• “The spirituality of penance & reparation in St. Catherine” by Sr. Mary Ark of the Covenant
• “Purity that Purifies: the Virtue of Virginity in the Doctrine and Life of St. Catherine” by Sr. Mary of Jesus
• “The Interior Cell and Self-Knowledge” by Sr. Maria del Tepeyac
• “St. Catherine of Siena: Spouse of Christ in Religion and the Vows” by M. Mary Our Lady of the Nativity
• “St. Catherine & St. Ignatius of Loyola: Great Desires & the Principle and Foundation” by Sr. Maria del Tabor
• “‘The Sheer Grace’ & ‘The Way’ of Christ” by Sr. Maria Mater Cruci Corde Affixa which studied the development of the spiritual life according to the doctrines of St. Catherine and St. John of the Cross
• “St. Catherine on Prayer and Liturgy” by M. Maria Guadalupana
It was very interesting to examine these familiar themes from the standpoint of Catherine’s doctrine which, as M. Corredentora reminded us in her Circular Letter explaining the motives for initiating this year dedicated to her memory and honor, elevates the soul and makes it come out of superficiality (cf. Circular Letter n.11).
To conclude, we also had the grace to receive a talk via Zoom by Dcn. Gonzalo Arboleda, IVE, entitled “Interior Trial leads to Humility,” in which he explained the Saint’s doctrine on God’s sanctifying action in the soul when He purifies it from self-love through the interior trials He allows it to pass through.
These Monastic Days were certainly filled with many graces. It was an opportunity to reinvigorate with greater magnanimity and love our living of our contemplative vocation, so as to better cooperate in Christ’s work of Redemption through our lives of silent and hidden prayer and sacrifice. We were not only illuminated by her doctrine and life, but also ignited (as she wished all souls to be) with the fire of love to desire more purely God alone.
We thank everyone for their prayers during this week, and we pray for its continued fruits in our lives and in the souls and missions entrusted to us. May St. Catherine grant us the grace to be true Spouses of the Word, dedicated to the loving contemplation of the Incarnate Word, who is Truth, for the glory of God and the salvation of many souls.
United to you all in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in prayer,
The Contemplatives of the Community “St. Edith Stein” and the Novitiate “St. Catherine of Siena”
Brooklyn New York, USA