What does it mean to be a Nun of the Order of Preachers? The Sequla Christi (the Following of Christ) is expressed in a unique synthesis handed down to us by St. Dominic lived in the heart of the Church. It is a way of life ratified by the example of numerous Saints and Blesseds. Below is our Fundamental Constitutions that paint in broad strokes the essentials of the life of the nuns as lived by each generation.
The nuns of the Order of Preachers came into being when our holy father gathered women converts to the Catholic faith in the monastery of Blessed Mary of Prouille in 1206. These women, free for God alone, he associated with his “holy preaching” by their prayer and penance. Our holy Father drew up a rule to be followed and constantly showed a father’s love and care for these nuns and for others established later in the same way of life. In fact, “they had no other master to instruct them about the Order.” Finally, he entrusted them as part of the same Order to the fraternal concern of his sons.
A Life of Hidden Apostolic Fruitfulness
By their way of life both the friars and the nuns press onward to that perfect love of God and neighbor which is effective in caring for and obtaining the salvation of all people. As the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all, offered himself completely for our salvation, they consider themselves to be truly his members primarily when they are spending themselves totally for souls. There is indeed a diversity of gifts, but one and the same Spirit, one charity, one mercy. The friars, sisters and laity of the Order are “to preach the name of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world;” the nuns are to seek, ponder and call upon him in solitude so that the word proceeding from the mouth of God may not return to him empty, but may accomplish those things for which it was sent (cf. Is 55:10).
A Life Pondering the Word of God
Called by God, like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his words (cf. Lk. 10:39) they are converted to the Lord, withdrawing from the empty preoccupations and illusions of the world. Forgetting what lies behind and reaching out for what lies ahead (cf. Phil. 3:13), they are consecrated to God by public vows through profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. In purity and humility of heart, in living and assiduous contemplation, they love Christ, who is close to the Father’s heart.
A Life of Liturgical Praise and Prayer
The nuns offer a sacrifice of praise to God especially through the celebration of the liturgy in imitation of the Church in Jerusalem which was drawn together by the teaching of the Apostles and united in daily prayer (cf. Acts 2:42). Persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, they ardently long for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that with unveiled face they may reflect the glory of the Lord and be transformed into his image from splendor to splendor by the Spirit of the Lord (cf 2 Cor. 3:18).
A Contemplative Life in Oneness of Mind and Heart
The nuns seek God by observing the norms of the purely contemplative life, by maintaining their withdrawal from the world by enclosure and silence, by working diligently, studying the truth eagerly, searching the Scriptures with ardent heart, praying intently, willingly practicing penance, pursuing communion through their manner of government, in purity of conscience and the joy of sisterly concord, “in freedom of spirit.” It is God who now makes them dwell together in unity and on the last day will gather into the Holy City a people acquired as his own. In the midst of the Church their growth in charity is mysteriously fruitful for the growth of the people of God. By their hidden life they proclaim prophetically that in Christ alone is true happiness to be found, here by grace and afterwards in glory.
A Life Free For God Alone
The nuns profess obedience according to these same Constitutions, “not like slaves under the law, but like free women under grace;” they will ponder them wisely, finding in them a mirror in which to test their own fidelity to their call from God. So their life will be “conducive to salvation for themselves, an example to others, a joy to the angels, and pleasing to God.”
From the Fundamental Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preacher