Contemplative communities nourished by rhythm of prayer
Contemplative communities take a long, loving look at life
All Christians are called by the gospel to awaken the world to the presence of God, alive and active within their very selves and in every circumstance, every event, every situation, no matter how bleak, no matter how pain-ridden. This awakening brings about a peace and joy, a security and a comfort that this world cannot give.
A contemplative community nurtures this presence by a life of prayer and study, characterized by simplicity and by helping others to realize the depth of their human communion in the family of God and in all of creation.
Contemplative communities believe that one of the most time-tested ways to bring God’s reconciling love and peace into the world is through a contemplative vocation nourished daily by a rhythm of prayer, work and leisure. This structure is balanced with hospitality and welcome of guests and by a readiness to pray with and for others. No one and no human concern is ever outside the embrace of their prayer and interest, particularly those served by our apostolic sisters. The unevenness of the global economy and the oppressive structures that feminize poverty, warring nations and nuclear weapons, make up the stuff of Good Shepherd ministries.
A good way of talking about it is to say, “It is a long, loving look at life, at the universe and all of creation in the presence of God whom we know is unconditional Love.” How does it manifest itself in everyday life?
Contemplating the mystery of God
When we allow the ocean expanse to calm our hearts and free our spirits and when we recognize that we are connected to every star and every human face, we contemplate the mystery of God. When we soak ourselves in Scripture and let our hearts and minds be fashioned by Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we are in an intimate relationship with our loving God.
While all these may sound great, we actually balk when we come face to face with a reality that we wish would be otherwise, that we’d like to change, control or manipulate according to our own ideas, our own way of seeing things.
To be a contemplative — and everyone has a built-in capacity to be one — we must come to a profound self-knowledge that is both frightening and liberating. We learn to surrender and yield to a God whom we cannot understand most of the time but dare to trust.
We let go. We believe God’s Word and we care for God’s world with no strings attached. We accept. We also let ourselves be like furrowed ground that lies in wait for the seeds of transformation, confident that God will bring these to fruition in us.
The Dream that guides our action
In 1825, when Mary Euphrasia Pelletier was thinking of new ways of rebirthing God’s tender mercy, it came upon her that there were women who allowed themselves to be found by God and for whom God wanted the greatest gift that could ever be given, a life of intimacy and friendship such as Jesus had with his Father.
Thus was Mary Euphrasia’s founding insight for the contemplative branch of the Good Shepherd congregation born. St. Mary Euphrasia made St. Mary Magdalen the model for her new contemplative community. She hoped that the sisters would pour out their lives to God and to others. She urged them to seek the one thing necessary – listening to the words of Jesus in true discipleship.
St. Mary Euphrasia dreamed that just as Mary Magdalen was the first apostle of the resurrection, her contemplatives would ever announce to all God’s reconciling love for everyone. Today the contemplatives hold Mary Euphrasia’s dream like a light in the night sky.
Like her in 1825, we seek new ways of giving birth and giving flesh to God’s infinite care for all, but particularly to women and children cast off to the peripheries of our aching world. We choose to stand with women and children who suffer and we humbly join our own to their cries for deliverance to a God who saves.
While we keep sacred space to nourish our relationship with God, we seek to understand how we can be a visible presence in our local church and be a sign of God’s immediacy and care.
Are you being called?
Do you resonate with the dream that guides our actions? Are you a woman who wants to commit herself to God through the contemplative lifestyle? Are you genuinely concerned about serving rather than being served? Are you agreeable to being shaken out of your comfort zone?
If you have the ability to live a life with a group of women with reverence for sacred space, then we welcome a chance to meet with you.
If you will allow your prayer to be in service of women’s struggle for equality, justice and freedom, then we invite you to consider a life of Good Shepherd.
If you believe that through transformation of self in Christ you can help transform our world where others can touch God, then it may be that you would benefit from having a deeper conversation with us.
If you have the heart of a prayer warrior, it is possible that you are meant to join us in building a world that nurtures compassion and reconciliation.