Part Twelve:

IDM: Independence Day: Time to Seek Mercy

In the last installment we treated "Heeding the Heavenly Clarion: Pray! Pray! Pray!", centering on Medjugorje. In this twelfth installment of this on-going series we delve further into prayer with a special two part piece on a special force of contemplative, cloistered nuns who have forsaken the world to spend their lives totally hidden for the sake of His Sorrowful Passion...living a life of Divine Mercy. It was written by the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart and published in our quarterly print issue. Because of the timing, the natural equation with this series and the hype about the summer blockbuster "ID4: Independence Day" which hits theaters everywhere this week we need to focus on this "hidden force" dedicated to calling down Divine Mercy upon a world ravaged by the destruction of the evil one's alien legions of doom who hover over our souls ready to destroy. The nuns of the Institute of Divine Mercy (IDM) signal true freedom for themselves and everyone else in the ultimate battle to take back what is rightfully God's world.

The True Meaning of Monastic Life

"Why?" asks the world in general, should any normal, healthy woman give up the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (worldly happiness), to live a strict life of prayer and sacrifice hidden behind cloistered walls. Consequently, the world rationalizes, any woman who lives such a hidden, monastic life is not normal and in need of psychotherapy. Jesus would disagree. He is ALL: All for every single human being from all time till the end of time. To those whom He has called, the monastic, contemplative, cloistered life is the means to live this ALL for their own salvation of many souls by uniting their life more closely with that of Jesus Christ. This embodies the term "bride of Christ" in Religious Life, and is more clearly understood in the light of the whole Gospel message. Jesus did not come to establish a kingdom on earth. This requires us, through faith, to look beyond the physical elements of our earthly existence, and to focus on the spiritual, mystical realm of God in Heaven. Our goal, our only goal, is to attain to eternal salvation with God in Heaven, and to cause many souls to follow the same path, for love of Jesus.

The Sisters of Divine Mercy do, and will always, embody the fullness of the Gospel message, for by their total sacrifice they are looking only to Heaven striving to attain this goal through the Most Holy and Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ. For to the world His Passion was folly. To the world, such a sacrifice, such a uniting of oneās own life to the life of Jesus is foolishness. It subjugates one into obedience to Jesus, the Son of God, Savior of the world. It seemingly denies freedom, when, in truth, it gives to one the greatest of freedoms: God Himself. The world has lost its sense of respect, understanding and recognition of monastic, contemplative life due to the decline in Church Teachings which has led to the resurgence of erroneous teachings, even to a plethora of invalid Masses. When the Church, as a whole, experiences such a decline, God, in His Infinite Mercy, seeks to set us back on the right path. And to that end, God seeks to do this through the monastic, cloistered life. Monastic life is truly a spiritual "death" to the world and all its attachments. Monastic life is heroic, yet very simple. It is courageous, yet humble. It is totally obedient, yet free! It is a contained world of silence and prayer reaching to the ends of the universe, and is joyous in its resemblance to our Lordās Passion.

The Monastery of Divine Mercy of Our Lady of Refuge, in temporary headquarters in Dallas, exemplifies a return to the true monastic traditions. Within the walls of this monastery are presently three dedicated postulants: Sister Andrea, Sister Marita and Sister Miriam. There are also two aspirants who are finishing their canonical two-week retreat before being received formally as postulants. The Bishopās office has approved four more aspirants to come and spend their two-week silent retreat of discernment before seeking admittance as a postulant. The work of the Holy Spirit grows daily, in a quiet, unassuming manner for the sake of Divine Mercy to be poured out upon all the world.

This life of monasticism is often misunderstood, little-known and written off as an "excessive" way to express piety. It is none of these things, yet it is so much more. In this special vocation the sister is to daily be spiritually clothed in the white garment of purity, while permitting Jesus to lay upon her shoulder the red cloak of His Passion through her hidden mortification, penances, sufferings, and all she does, thinks and says. In this special way she becomes a true bride of Christ, hidden from view, yet there for all mankind so that she may intercede before God for souls. Before the day dawns, the sisters rise from their sleep in silence, their hearts lifted to God. In chapel, before the Blessed Sacrament, they begin their day in unison, praying the Divine Office in Latin which is set forth in the Holy Rule and which the Diocese has adopted and approved. Their Conventual Mass is in Latin and they will soon begin lessons in the official language of the Church within the confines of the Monastery in the chanting of Liturgical Latin. At regular intervals throughout the day, the Sisters are called back to the chapel to pray, their primary intention: to call down Divine Mercy upon the world. Even as postulants they seek to make themselves instruments upon whom our Lord can pour down His Divine Mercy for the sake of those who do not want it, do not know it, do not even seek it, before that time fo the Great Warning and Great Chastisement, foretold in Sacred Scripture. They do not "see" the world now, yet by their very vocation they are far more a part of the world than had they remained in it in a secular way. Void of the distractions of daily life, these Sisters bring before our Lord the needs of the entire world, beginning first with their own Diocese, their country, and then the world as a whole, mindful of the Infinite Merits of Jesus Christ Who has called them to this special vocation. In addition to their Mass, Divine Office and private prayer time, the nuns also engage in the study of Sacred Scriptures and the approved writings of the Doctors of the Church which preserve the Dogmas, Doctrines and Traditions of Holy Mother Church. This study enhances and nourishes their contemplative prayer; as it were an on-going stream of life flowing from the Holy Spirit into their souls.

Silence speaks volumes

As CONTEMPLATIVES these nuns are consecrated to prayer, adoration and intercession. In the letters they do not write, the phone calls they do not make, in the publications they do not read, and the television they do not watch, these nuns proclaim the SILENCE that brings them into union with God. The contemplation and silence of the Monastery is not a harbinger of death, but of life itself, for it permits God to speak to them, as they speak to Him. After all, the Holy Spirit often speaks in a whisper. The silence each nun keeps and seeks, permits the Holy Spirit to prompt them at all times to the will of God. To the world, silence is rudeness, as we have become a society of sound bytes. But in the Monastery of Divine Mercy, the holy silence sought and kept, is virtuous because it is observed and sought for the love of God.

By their hidden lives these nuns provide a WITNESS to the Truth, to God, which is so necessary in a world that denies the supernatural, that forbids discussion or mention of God except in controversial ways. By their witness, these nuns proclaim to all that the seeking of God alone is paramount and should never be overshadowed by the pursuit of earthly goals. In a continuation of the Gospel, the sisters are those who left all to follow Him, as the Apostles did when called. Their life, though HIDDEN, is by no means a retreat from trials, sufferings, even problems. Their life embodies the embracing of the Cross of Christ. In silence, in the company of their fellow sisters, and above all with Jesus, each sister must strive for union with God through the living of the Holy Rule, the endurance of their individual weaknesses, and the constant rub of community life. The sisters seek this union, this embrace of the Cross, through PRAYER. They do so, first, in their daily Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. During the day, the Divine Office is chanted in Latin at the prescribed hours, ending at 9:30 pm when the GRAND SILENCE falls like a sweet quilt over the Monastery. No speech will be heard, unless in necessity borne of emergency, until the nuns arise the following morning at 5 am. In addition to the prescribed times in Choir, each sister has, twice a day, personal time for spiritual reading, reflection, and contemplation which marks her journey closer to God as He leads her. The day of the Divine Mercy Sisters begins with prayer, and is sweetly ended with the hymn Salve Regina at night as the Peace of Christ and the care of His Blessed Mother send them off to bed. To bring full BALANCE to their lives, the nuns, when they are not required by the Holy Rule to be at prayer in chapel or private, engage in manual work. This is necessary for the health of mind and body that our Lord desires for all of His children, and it is also a practical means to generate some income for the Monastery. When the numbers are sufficient the nuns may engage in other worthwhile and approved enterprises within the Monastery, but at this time while in the temporary quarters, the plans call for the sisters to make baby clothing to be sold to those who work in the specific ministries of preventing abortion, helping unwed mothers, and seeking to place babies up for adoption. This aspect of their lives has also been sanctioned by Bishop Charles V. Grahmann of the Diocese of Dallas.

The Monastery rises like a jewel set in a crown to the Lord through the VOWS, which the nuns will take in time. The three charter postulants will begin their novitiate year on the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, 1996. This is the time when they will be given the Holy Habit of the Institute of Divine Mercy and the white veil of a novice. Youāll note the photo of Sr. Andrea modeling the habit on page 1. After their canonical year of novitiate, these sisters will take the temporary vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for a period of three years. At the end of this time period they will enter into Solemn Profession.

The Omnipresence of Obedience

Though not vowed at this time, nonetheless the sisters give OBEDIENCE wholeheartedly to the Holy Rule, to the direction of the Bishop through the guidance of the Spiritual Directors, and thus they are obedient in all things before God. Each sister strives for humility, patience, charity and obedience which is made manifest in the mercy they give to their fellow sisters, and thus to the world. This is the very fabric of the Institute of Divine Mercy within the cloister so that the stream of Mercy may be every more abundant. Each sister freely submits herself to the directives of the Bishop through his appointed Spiritual Directors and Advisors. The time will come when, from among the sisters, a Superior will be elected, to whom the sisters will then be freely obedient. In this beginning stage, the sisters recognize the Bishop as the legitimate superior of the Institute, and their obedience is totally pledged to him and his representatives. Part and parcel of obedience is PENANCE which the sisters embrace when they begin their vocation to the monastic, cloistered life. This penance does not consist of self-inflicted pain by use of "instruments of penance" as many would mistakenly think, but rather as an intricate part of their very lifestyle. In truth, by their absolute obedience there results in much penance for the life of a true religious is a life against nature. It is a life of self-abnegation. This type of penance seeks to be hidden, and by its hiddenness it is far more sanctifying because it is devoid of any self-satisfaction. God alone sees. That is sufficient. The Holy Rule is quite clear on Penance from meatless meals to strict fasts of bread and water three times a week to long hours of prayer, work and study. In short, the Holy Rule counsels these consecrated souls to these practices, with the most important being that of MERCY. Each sister seeks to live the Holy Rule fully, not making, nor seeking any exceptions to this Rule. Yet it is the duty of each sister, as called for by Divine Mercy, to anticipate the needs of each other in a way that individual needs are met with the spirit of Mercy, as Jesus teaches us.
The Power of Poverty
By their commitment to POVERTY the sisters exemplify humility, which bows before God and turns to Him in all things. Their monastery is simple, their clothing is simple, their food is simple. In short, there is no fuss. Thus, by their promise of Poverty now - and later the Vow of Poverty - the sisters, individually and collectively, find the Peace of Jesus Christ abounding in their lives. The sisters are permitted to own nothing individually but the monastery and grounds, when built, will belong to this Institute for the sake of preserving the monastic traditions of the Holy Rule and Constitutions. Thus, each sister recognizes her nothingness before God, and in holy obedience seeks permission from the lawful superior for anything that she needs. Note, the emphasis is on true need, not on want in any requisition. By Holy Poverty, each sister detaches herself from the world, belonging solely to God in adhering to Jesusā words in Luke 18: 22.

The Crown of Chastity

The priceless virtue of CHASTITY is much ridiculed and misunderstood today. For the nuns of the Institute of Divine Mercy, they understand that this vow is far more than a renunciation of the married vocation as blessed by God in the Sacrament of Matrimony. They understand and strive for a purity of mind, body, heart and soul that frees them to attain union with God in swift measure. In the monastic life, Chastity goes so far as to keep undue attachments from forming between the sisters, while a holy respect for each as a bride of Christ permits each sister the freedom to process triumphantly and purely to the Altar of God.

We will continue with the second part of this in the thirteenth installment, showing how closing off the world opens new worlds to God. If you would like to know more about the Institute of Divine Mercy and/or donate to this worthy cause, you may send your tax-deductible check or money order to: Institute of Divine Mercy, 8351 San Fernando Way, Dallas, TX 75218.