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CONSECRATED LIFE: Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters: Contemplative Life

by Sister Kathleen McDonagh, IWBS, Contributor
March 23, 2012

Among the many congregations and orders of religious in the Diocese of Corpus Christi we find the congregation known as the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters who came to the diocese in 1970. These are sisters the main thrust of whose life is a life of prayer. 

Their life style, lived in Corpus Christi in their convent at 4105 Ocean Drive, is cloistered. This means that it is “a simple, uncluttered, quiet and uncomplicated life,” lived almost totally within the confines of their convent. 

There, silence is maintained most of the time, but “the center of the silence becomes the voice of God speaking to the person in a language that is not heard but understood.”  In their chapel, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and there, from morning until evening, the sisters alternate in taking time to pray for the whole Church and the whole world. 

But also, for up to 12-hours a day, their chapel is open to other members of the Church–clerical, religious, lay–who realize the blessedness that comes from taking time to pray in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

At various times during the day, the sisters gather together in their adoration chapel for liturgical prayer–participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. 

In addition to formal prayer, each sister has an additional hour for personal prayer during which she prays the prayer of her choice, including such treasured devotions within the church as praying the rosary and making the way of the cross. And when communal prayer in the chapel is completed and the majority of members of the community disperse to serve the Church, the people of God, in other ways, one or two sisters remain in silent prayer to continue the prayer of the community.

All forms of the sisters’ prayers are based on the very firm foundation of Scripture.  In addition to their prayer, the sisters study Scripture–God’s written word–for an hour a day beyond their time for prayer in chapel. Thus they feed their hearts and minds with His authentic teaching and so grow in their relationship to Him.

When the sisters leave the chapel, they do so to serve the Church–the people of God–in other ways. These other ways include the ordinary demands of life:  washing, ironing, cooking, sewing, answering doorbells and telephones, taking care of sick sisters. 

“Since our life revolves around the Eucharist and the liturgy, there must always be a sister on hand who cares for preparations involved in the daily celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgical functions,” a sister said.

Sisters print names on perpetual prayer cards and in the correspondence department, they answer the many prayer requests received every day, assuring those who write them of prayers for the writer’s intentions and offering words of hope and encouragement. 

And very important also in the lives of the sisters is the care of their lovely cloister garden where some sisters delight in spending a short time each day caring for plants, rooting out weeds and making sure that the bird feeders are kept filled with food.

There are, of course, persons who question the validity of so many dedicated and loving women engaged–as far as the observer can see–in a world that is largely silent. As a result, we sometimes hear such comments as “What a waste!  Why don’t these women get out in the world where there is so much need of dedicated people and help the Church and the world in that way?”

The answer is obvious.  The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, and all cloistered and contemplative persons, are contributing to meeting the needs in the world.  However, they do so in a way that differs from the lifestyle of the many who are called to active vocations and in the way to which God is calling cloistered religious. 

How does a person know that she has a vocation to the life of a cloistered sister such as the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters?   The answer differs from person to person, but the one specific factor that is common to all religious vocations is an inner urge that seems to draw the person to a particular religious Congregation.

Some potential candidates try to avoid answering this call, and sometimes they succeed in doing so.  In most cases, the call of God wins out, and the person who answers it does find joy and happiness in a new way of life; more so than she could have thought possible. 

God rewards persons who are willing to take the risk with “a combination of courage, love, freedom, and light-heartedness that will be given to everyone who takes the step of complete faith in God’s gentle call.  It is a case of living by the truth in order to come to the light, as Christ has said.”

Hearing God’s call … answering God’s call (whatever it may be) in faith … trusting in His love for us and His support for us … all are factors in answering the call positively.  The authenticity of the life is witnessed to us by our Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters through their joy and their prayerfulness.