Consecrated Life: Vocations
Image: Temptation of St Anthony
Saint Dominic founded the Order of Preachers by starting a community of nuns in Prouille, near Faunjeux in France. This was in 1206, ten years before the Dominican friars were founded as a religious Order. Whether through the deliberate plan of St Dominic or just through the work of the Holy Spirit, it was part of God’s plan that Prouille would be the foundation of the Dominican nuns, and hence the foundation of the Dominican Order. The nuns have been there ever since, engaged in prayer and the consecrated life. Doing all the things the desert fathers strived to focus their energies on. The purpose of the nuns has been described to me, as a life of prayer and contemplation in order to ‘keep the devil away’ from the mission of the friars and the rest of the Dominican Order, and to pray for our intentions.
The consecrated life is one where the immediate benefits are not necessarily seen. Consecrated religious go through the trials that St Anthony endured in the desert to varying degrees, depending on our own faults or weaknesses. I suppose that is part of what it is to grow in faith, whether as a consecrated religious or in the Christian vocation in general, to know and love God. With the benefit of hindsight, the fundamental basis of our Order is (to me, at least) rooted in this life of prayer. The consecrated nuns are historically and currently the women holding things together, in a spiritual sense. So therefore it is difficult to explain the importance of consecrated life, without referring to the inherent value in having people purely praying for our intentions, praying that the Holy Spirit and Grace of God will enable the entire Order and the Church to fulfil its mission. That mission is the salvation of souls through the proclamation of the Gospel.