Life in My Monastery
My call to the monastic, contemplative life instead of the active life stems from my call and yearning for God in three areas: prayer, silence, and Eucharistic adoration. I will explain the first one.
Everyday Miracles in the Cloister
There is power in prayer. God works miracles if you ask. That’s why I’m here. My duty and mission in life now is to pray for the whole world. Everything takes second priority to this. People send in their intentions asking for our prayers and we pray for them. We have a prayer board on the way into our cloistered chapel so all the sisters can see the prayers that come in through letter or phone call.
Today, I saw a letter of thanksgiving. A woman was having some health problems. Her friend called our 24 hour prayer line for her and 2 days later it was gone. We were also praying for a kidney or liver for a little boy (I forget which one he needed) and, sure enough, a few days later, we heard the news that a donor came in! There is a friend of our community we have been praying for. He recently had a stroke which has been very hard on everyone involved. His wife has been praying her whole life for him to come back to the Catholic church. Because of the stroke, he came back into the church and received the Sacraments this Easter!
Everyone Needs Prayers
As an extern, I answer the 24 hour prayer line and talk to people who come into our bookstore. I am blessed with the gift of praying for them and with them as I listen as they cry and share the joys and sorrows in their heart. They are seeking God’s aid through our prayers. I can hear the desperate yearning for hope and consolation in their voices as they reach out. They may call from the scene of a car accident; after receiving the news about their child with cancer; or for one who left the Church. Whatever it may be, they ask anything and everything: a lost wallet, acceptance into a college, safe travels for vacation, and sometimes they pray for new marriages and babies on the way. Everyone is seeking and everyone needs prayers.
The other day, an elderly man came up to me close to tears. He said he needed prayers for something but he didn’t tell me what it was. I asked if we could pray together for that intention and he said, “You pray and I’ll listen.” so I prayed with him right there as people were coming into the store and watching us. To see the relief on people’s faces or hear peace in their voices after you pray with them is beautiful. That man returned again weeks later, looked at me and grasped my hands in desperate need of prayers again for his situation, and said, “Can we pray a Hail Mary?” He asked me this time to pray together. God works miracles. Prayer is powerful, even when we don’t see the results in this life. It gives us hope for life with Him for eternity.
Proud to be an Extern Sister
I already have countless stories of the people I have encountered in our extern bookstore. Call them crazy coincidences if you want, but no, they are divine encounters that only God could have orchestrated. God hand-selected each person for our lives to cross at that moment. When someone randomly shares the miracles in their life associated with St. Therese and I proceed to share my family’s conversion thanks to the same saint, it’s only by God’s grace we met during the 30 minutes I was assigned to the bookstore that day.
When the phone happens to “randomly” and inexplicably be switched to the backup phone that I am answering and I get to pray with someone who desperately needed the counsel and prayers at that moment. That is God’s grace. The angels are here every moment guiding us and I am grateful.
He has called me to contemplate Him in the silence but then share the fruit of this contemplation. This is a summary statement of our Dominican spirituality. As an extern I am priviledged to share this fruit with my sisters in the cloister but also in an evangelizing way in the bookstore. Working with people, recommending books, praying with them, hearing their life stories, and attending weddings and funerals is part of my beautiful vocation. I get to witness God’s love to the people as the face for the cloistered sisters, who have given all of this up to be in the cloister praying for the needs of the whole world.
© Jamie Leatherby 2018
Photo: Here is a glimpse inside Sr. Jamie’s monastery gift store and bookshop.