VITA CONSECRATA: CONSECRATED LIFE
Religious life, since the mid 1960’s to the present has undergone many changes that promote health and well-being, that favor a contemplative way of life that is not possible if the day is cramped with work and obligatory schedule-keeping. The horarium has changed. We used to gather for communal meditation at 5:30 every morning, followed by praying the Office (in Latin) and then Mass. Before noon and right after dinner we would gather again in the Chapel for “Visitation,”—a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the Stabat Mater (a prayer to and with the Sorrowful Mother) and Litany to the Blessed Mother, and a part of the Office. Toward evening, before Supper, we would assemble for another part of the Office, the prayer of the Church. Right before retiring in the evening, we would come together to pray Compline and/or evening prayer and conscience examen. Somewhere was public recitation of the rosary. If Sisters, because of ministry missed communal prayer, they had to make it up, even to the point of depriving themselves of needed rest (our hospital sisters worked seven days a week, 365 days a year) and were on call day and night. Missing scheduled prayers was not allowed except in an emergency in the hospital.
Change was inevitable and necessary! The essence of religious life has not changed, however. That essence is “the radical gift of self for love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every member of the human family.”