In 1206 St. Dominic gathered some young women he had converted and rescued from the Cathars into community at the church of St. Mary of Prouilhe. This original foundation of Dominican contemplative nuns still attracts women to live as Jordan of Saxony describes in the thirteenth century: “These servants of God continue to offer worship acceptable to their Creator, in holiness of life and in the purity of innocence – a life which is conducive to salvation for themselves, an example to others, a joy to the angels, and pleasing to God.”

Marie-Dominique Chenu used to say that there are two doors through which one enters the Order: the call to the contemplative life and the call to the apostolic life. This is true even for the nuns. Some choose the monastery in order to pray always, in search of purity of heart and to focus completely on the mystery of God. As they come to know St. Dominic they in turn discover mercy and intense intercession for God’s beloved people. Others wish to serve their fellow men and women by leading them to paths of faith. They discover that one of the best means of realizing this ideal is to offer themselves totally through prayer and silence, the father of preachers, and not through any particular work except the “work” of “believing in Him whom the Father has sent.”

The vocation of the nuns places them at the heart of the Order. Such was the desire of St. Dominic in order to emphasize in a radical way the grace of contemplation, which is the very source of the itinerant apostolic. In solidarity with the mission of their preaching brothers as well as that of the whole Dominican family, the nuns, by their prayer, accompany the Word which does not return to God without accomplishing that for which it was sent.

This contemplation takes root both in silence and liturgical prayer, in the day-to-day life lived in common, in meditation, and assiduous study of the word of God.

Some Dominican monasteries are directly under the guidance of the Master of the Order, some are under the direction of a local province of friars, and some under a local bishop.

Monialibus: International Bulletin of the Nuns of the Order

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