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Catechists urged to promote contemplative religious life

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 November, 2013


Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe has urged catechists to make more of an effort to promote the contemplative religious life with schoolchildren.

In his address for ‘Pro Orantibus day’ which is a day of appreciation “for those who pray”, specifically monastic, contemplative and cloistered religious, Bishop Boyce urged catechists to mention this way of life to schoolchildren.

He suggested that they should also consider taking a school class to visit cloistered religious.

“Spend an hour with some of the enclosed women or men whose life always fascinates young people,” the Carmelite bishop urged.

Recognising that it is not a very common vocation in life, the Bishop of Raphoe said nevertheless, “the Lord does call some, and will continue to do so, to this type of dedicated life on behalf of the Church.”

He also called for an Intercession to be added for vocations to the contemplative life to the Prayers of the Faithful for 21 November or the nearest Sunday.

‘Pro Orantibus day’ was established by Blessed John Paul II and is celebrated each year on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple (21 November).

Describing contemplative communities as “power houses of prayer”, the Bishop said they draw down many graces on our troubled world. “In their own silent but effective way they contribute enormously to the work of re-evangelisation of our secularised world,” he said.

The Bishop, who belongs to the Order of Discalced Carmelites, said that those who spend their life in the silence and prayer of contemplative monasteries may well be separated from the busy world, with all its interests and pleasures, but they remain very near to us with their prayers.

“They pray for us but we are normally unaware of the graces we receive through their lives of quiet dedication to the Lord.”

He prayed for the 26 communities of contemplative sisters and six communities of male contemplatives in Ireland, and the many communities of committed contemplatives around the world. 

“Although they are hidden from society, people of faith have trust in the prayers of nuns and monks and friars,” he suggested and referred to the constant stream of people who visit these monasteries with prayer intentions, trusting in the intercession of those who have completely dedicated their lives to God in continuous prayer and penance.

Referring to the Second Vatican Council, Dr Boyce said the Church is well aware of the importance of the contemplative life and that all popes in recent times have expressed their appreciation for this way of life. 

He said that perhaps “the most striking witness” of the value of a hidden life of prayer was given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who earlier this year, retired from the Petrine ministry and chose “to devote himself even more to prayer and meditation” in a secluded monastery in the Vatican gardens.

“This is an important reminder to us all of the apostolic value of a life completely dedicated to God,” Bishop Boyce commented.

Speaking in the Vatican on Wednesday about “Pro Orantibus Day”, Pope Francis encouraged those present to support both spiritually and materially those who are called to the cloistered life, to assist them in carrying out the important task entrusted to them.

“It is a good occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of the many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and constructive silence,” the Pope said. 

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