Disciple – Does a cloistered nun need conversion?
Redemptoristeens form Kežmarok in Slovakia
God the Father called us to be “viva memoria” which means to be a living reminder of his beloved Son. Simply put, to be a living reminder means to let Jesus live not only with us but in us. It means to give him ourselves so he could, through us and in us, love, forgive, pray, work, serve and meet the people: all who come and knock to on the doors of our monastery. In that way our simple, ordinary, everyday life, connected with Jesus’ life, gains huge value and price in our heavenly Father’s eyes and can bear fruit.
Some people say and think that a cloistered community is “paradise on earth” and a “vestibule of heaven”. I think it’s true! Not because we are so holy and perfect (because we are not) but due to the fact that we live here with the living God among us. We are here under one roof with the Eucharistic Jesus who has called us with our gifts, our mistakes and our sins. Didn’t Jesus say that God’s kingdom is among us? He didn’t say: “It will be among you one day” or “Do good things and then it would be among you!”. Jesus says, that the Kingdom of God is among us, and so I realise that even if we are not fully in eternity, the kingdom of God is among us through love and simple everyday forgiving of one another. I forgive and in at the same time I am grateful for the forgiveness I receive from Jesus and the sisters every day. Like in the Gospel – 77 times per day. It is real God’s love which lifts me up every day, forgives me every day, gives me a new beginning, does not condemn and sends me, especially to my sisters, saying: “Go and do the same!”
What does it mean to be “Viva memoria” – a living reminder of Christ?
Every one of us, during baptism, has taken on the responsibility to imitate Christ, so that our attitude, thinking, feeling – literally our whole life becomes His life. It means to lend Jesus our eyes, ears, hands and all we are to let Him be close to other people through us. For us redemptoristines, it is a personal and community task. In fact, it is a love which has no limits to the way of manifestation. In our lifestyle we express it through individual and community prayer, daily fulfilment of duties, a hidden life which is very valuable in God’s eyes. It is also expressed in our hospitality, which shows that we are open for people to visit us, call us, write to us or who want to meet with the living Jesus Christ.
The idea of a closed monastery is totally wrong! Our Constitution says: “The enclosure separating us from the world is an open gate for all who seek God”. Although we are physically separated from the world, we are close to people in our testimony and openness to others. We are here for other people, to kindly welcome them, carefully hear them, to help them as a sister and strengthen them in faith, hope and love, and finally to keep them in our prayers. In this way we want to show them Jesus, who is the sense of everything they experience. One of the forms of our apostolate is hospitality. When we have the opportunity to be witnesses of God’s love and show the presence of Christ in this world.
Does the cloistered nun need conversion? Of course! Every person needs it! I used to think that conversion is what I do, when I recognize and confess my sins, when I want to change something in my life. Now I think that conversion is first of all God’s action. He first is facing with me. He gives me his love, his mercy, his life and light. In fact, I live through his “conversion” to of me. Thanks to His vision, unconditional acceptance, and the in power of his love, I am able to notice what harms my relationship with Him, with others and with myself. Conversion is a gift of God’s grace with my response and cooperation.
To begin, I want to greet you and thank you for the opportunity to say something about my conversion. I remember my first confession in the monastery. When I heard about the sacrament of reconciliation, I was terrified because I didn’t know what I could confess!? My mother wasn’t there, so I didn’t oppose her. My brothers weren’t there, so I didn’t argue with them. I was obedient because I didn’t know what to do in the monastery. I had to listen to and ask about everything. During my first month in the monastery, I was as angel compared to what I was at home. This is why during my first confession I said that I didn’t know what to confess. The confessor and I laughed. He just said to me that I would know what to confess next month. He was right.
I remember when I thought for the first time if I really needed conversion. I have to admit that I was very selfish. I thought about myself as a good person until I heard Saint John the Apostle’s words, that everyone who claims that he has no sin is a liar. It touched my pride. Someone telling me that if I thought that I didn’t have any sin, if I couldn’t admit that I did something wrong, it makes me liar!
It was the beginning of when I started to think about conversion. I also began to pray for that conversion. I wanted to know what conversion was, what I had to do, where would it lead me.
The beginning my conversion was full of protest, anger and selfishness when looking at the Lord. It was a very unjust look. The longer I prayed, especially with the Rosary, the more I discovered that a conversion is a grace, a great gift from the Holy Spirit. I learned that on my way God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit together with Mother Mary are with me, because they are the greatest good and they feel sorrow, they heal my pain caused by sin.
When I understood it I could raise wings of gratefulness, trust and I really wished to converse. God healed my spiritual wounds and I experienced joy caused by freedom and conversion. When I give away my sin, when I confess it and feel sorry I can experience that freedom, great joy and peace in my own community. In my conversion, Our Lady’s calls helped me a lot – both from Fatima or Medjugorie. I’ve always asked Mother Mary for help on my way of to conversion, a way of filiation.
As a child is growing to become and adult we are also growing to live through grace which is very valuable and beautiful. This is the real presence of God the Father, Jesus who takes away my sins and the Holy Spirit, but also our Mother Mary, who always calls me to leave my sins. It’s a true “vestibule of heaven”. The grace of conversion is a vestibule of paradise because I can enter it with trust. It is so that I know that when I die there is heaven! Not everyone believes it and this is why we are here to pray and ask for faith for every human being.
I do not want to convince you that our life is needed. However, as it was needed by Jesus to have hidden life with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, I believe that our life is needed, our vocation is from God. Even if only He would enjoy it, it pays to live like that.
I thank you very much! Together with my sisters we are close to you in our prayers!
Authors: redemptoristnes nuns from Kežmarku:
Mária Volková, Mária Vrabčeková, Zuzana Liščáková,
Ľudmila Senderáková, Anna Selveková
Translation: Dariusz Dudek CSsR
Life behind the closing CSsR