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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

What to do during your holy hour/ Sister or nun? Monastery or convent?

Help with your Holy Hour

     I am grateful and excited by how many have committed to a regular hour of prayer during our 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays into Thursday mornings. As many may be charting this course for the first time, I’d like to offer a few ideas for how to fruitfully spend this time, hoping that your regular time each week will bear great fruit in you.

     When it comes to “what” to do, I encourage all to consider your own styles of prayer and to carry through that which is most comfortable to you. If you are most comfortable praying vocal (or “written/structured”) prayers such as the Rosary or other devotional prayers found in prayer books, etc., these prayers can be a good way to focus ourselves, keeping in mind our very direct contact with Jesus who is present in the Eucharist (mindful that when at adoration, we should seek to pray these prayers silently out of right discretion for others who may be present). Others may find reading and meditating on the Scriptures – especially from the previous or upcoming Sunday Mass’s passages – as a way to both listen and to be as the Lord speaks to your heart. Still others may simply like the quiet of being before the Lord – inviting Him into your heart, letting Him speak to you. All of these ways, either by themselves or each in small amounts of time during the hour, are great ways to spend this time.

     Might I also encourage you to spend time during your adoration offering prayers of thanksgiving and praise – simply verbalizing in your mind and heart that for which you are grateful to God. This exercise need not be lengthy; however, the more you practice such (especially at the beginning of your hour), the more it will 
become part of you and a very deep expression of regular prayer.

     As you journey, please feel free to ask questions or for direction if you so desire.  Let us persevere together in prayer for ourselves, for one another, and for the whole Church as we spend time with Jesus!

What is the difference between a monastery and a convent? Between a sister and a nun?

     The words monastery and convent both refer to residences of either religious men or women. Some sources say there is no distinction in using these words, though
often we think of monasteries as those places where men (monks) dwell, while convents are where women (nuns or sisters) dwell. However, this distinction is not strictly applied – case in point, down the street from the parish is the Benedictine Monastery of St. Scholastica, where religious women of the Benedictine order reside.  Other sources (including the reference book called The Catholic Sourcebook), say there that monasteries are residences for those who live separated from the world (or are “cloistered”). In these cloistered settings, the religious usually live their entire life with limited or almost no contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, a convent is more generally referred to as a residence of at least six religious under the direction of one who is the superior. In such residences, the prayer and spiritual exercises of the community will normally be the center of their lives, but some (or many) may have other apostolic works that they engage in outside of their community life.

     As for sisters and nuns, while they are similar in that they take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to a right superior, it is typical that a “sister” is one who has taken “simple” vows (rather than “solemn” vows). Of memory to us here, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist do not refer to themselves as nuns, as they do not dwell in monasteries, but in smaller communities. In addition, they each serve particular ministries or apostolates that outwardly serve the Church in the world. On the other hand, those who are “nuns” often are understood as women who live in cloistered monasteries, devoting much of their day to prayer while also carrying out necessary works that sustain the life of the monastery. Such religious have a far more indirect (though very powerful and real) way of serving the Church through their hidden lives of prayer. In any case, it is important to note that even nuns are usually called by the title “sister” when referred to or addressed by another person.


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