What is Contemplative Life?
Contemplative life is a mystery of love: it reveals Jesus’ relationship of love and intimacy with the Father and continues his mission in prayer and supplication for the whole of humanity. As Holy Family Contemplatives we are called to follow the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the home of Nazareth, the humble school where the simplicity and beauty of daily life are revealed. This is where we learn to live day after day all the realities of our life.
Contemplative life does not separate us from the reality of life. It situates us in the very heart of life, close to others, as a sign of faith and hope and unity. “The Holy Family of Nazareth created a home where the most perfect communion with the Father and the entire human race was lived” (Constitutions Art.166).
Our Mission in the Church is centred primarily on the Father’s tremendous plan of love to bring everyone together into his own Family. Hence, living in community is very important. It teaches us to become open to compassion, forgiveness and sisterly love, to the joys and sufferings of others. To form community, like the Family of Nazareth, is a long journey towards the unification of our being in order to have but one heart and one mind in and through Jesus Christ. We allow ourselves and the little daily events of our life to be transformed in the light of His love. Coming from different cultures and nationalities, each one contributes to the unity of the Community.
Our field of apostolate is within our own heart. In Silence and Solitude we meet the Lord, receive his Word and grow to an ever-deeper union with him and with humanity. It is here that we struggle against forgetting God, that we discover ourselves sinners with sinners, saved and blessed by the mercy and compassion of God. This is where we live our solidarity with all humanity.
The Eucharist and the Word of God nourish our life of continual prayer and offer a rhythm of peace to each day. We come together to celebrate the Divine Office and the Eucharist. Each Sister spends one hour in personal prayer, in Lectio Divina – a slow, meditative reading from the Bible – and in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
Adoration is a Mission confided by our Founder to the Contemplatives. Offering continual thanksgiving and supplication to the Lord, we hold in our hearts the memory of the Miraculous Blessing of 1822. We also give time to spiritual reading and prayer vigils.
Work keeps us in touch with reality. Each of our Communities provides for its needs. Here in Martillac we undertake the laundry and preparation of meals for the Retreat House, which is under the direction of our Apostolic Sisters. We also have a sewing workshop for the Boutiques of ‘L’Artisanat Monastique,’ an Association in France to help procure work for Monasteries.
Our mission here in La Solitude together with our Sisters of the Apostolic Community, manifests the spirit of the Holy Family – a spirit of communion, of unity in diversity. The groups who pass through the guesthouse and those who come more specially to share our life of prayer, appreciate the Family spirit of warmth and welcome which exists. Some people come to speak of their problems and to ask for prayers. Some take part in Evening Prayer or spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, others ask to be accompanied during a retreat.
The name ‘Religious Institute’ embraces the two groups: Apostolic and Contemplative Sisters.
The idea of having a group of “Solitaries” – Sisters dedicated in the Contemplative way of life – was always present in the mind of our Founder. The first foundation was in LA SOLITUDE, MARTILLAC in 1859. This is a place of peace and recollection, surrounded by vineyards. It was here that Father Noailles saw his Spiritual Family take form, where he wrote the Rule.
La Solitude, for him, was the place where all the members of his Family could come together and drink at the Source. This contemplative group of Sisters at Martillac was to be with the other members a sign of unity and a continual source of mutual support in our zeal for God Alone and the extension of his Kingdom.
The different vocations in one and the same Family are a challenge for living our specific call and making the Founder’s Charism relevant today. At present there are 3 other Monasteries of Contemplative Sisters: Oteiza in Spain, Nagoda in Sri Lanka and Posadas in Argentina.