Adoremus in Aeternum Sanctissimum Sacramentum
This acclamation “Let us adore forever the Most Blessed Sacrament,” frequently on the lips of the PCPA, turns her heart and mind to the source and summit of her life and vocation – Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The Mass, offered daily at 7 a.m. is the heart of our monastic life, and perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is likewise, the lifeblood of the community. The whole of the nun’s life tends toward prayer – the encounter with God and the journey of spousal discipleship with Him. The silence of the cloister, the rhythm of the liturgy of the hours and the unceasing vigil of adoration, all foster and engender our “abiding in God” (Jn 15). This life of prayer, offered with and in Christ, thus benefits the whole Church and the entire world as it finds its roots and fulfillment in the redemption of Christ.
“To the gift of Christ the Bridegroom, who on the Cross offered his body unreservedly, the nun responds in like terms… offering herself with Jesus Christ to the Father and cooperating with him in the work of redemption. Separation from the world thus gives a Eucharistic quality to the whole of cloistered life, since ‘besides its elements of sacrifice and expiation, [it assumes] the aspect of thanksgiving to the Father, by sharing in the thanksgiving of the beloved Son.’” ~ Verbi Sponsa
The Order of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration is privileged to have Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Our adoration choir is within the main Chapel of the Shrine where we sustain a continuous vigil of adoration. Each Sister has an assigned hour each day, and a few nocturnal hour slots during the week. She is able to spend this time in personal prayer with the Lord and intercede for the needs of others. The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is open daily, and all are welcome to the public chapel to pray in Jesus’ Eucharistic Presence. As the Sisters change places at the beginning and end of their adoration time, we chant Our Lady’s Magnificat, joining her in her prayer of thanksgiving, following a tradition begun by our foundress, Mother Marie Ste. Claire. After the Magnificat, a prayer to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is read aloud, and silent prayer follows for the remainder of the hour.
The Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours holds a primary place in our life of prayer and horarium. All of the hours of the Office are prayed in common and open to the public. The Apostolic Constitution on the Divine Office states: “The Liturgy of the Hours is the means of sanctifying the day. By being immersed in the Church’s Liturgy in this way, we are joined with all of the mystical Body of Christ in praise and petition, in prayer with Christ and to Christ. The excellence of Christian prayer lies in this, that it shares in the very love of the only-begotten Son for the Father and in that prayer which the Son put into words in his earthly life and which still continues unceasingly in the name of the whole human race and for its salvation, throughout the universal Church and in all its members.”
Of all the spiritual reading available, Sacred Scripture remains the chief ‘food’ for the Franciscan life of prayer. As our Holy Father Saint Francis received the call to follow Christ through the Gospels, so too, we seek to encounter the Living God through meditating daily on His Word. Our Holy Mother Clare in her rule gives us our form of life: “The form of life of the Poor Sisters which the Blessed Francis established, is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity.”
Devotion to Our Lady
The Mother of God is deeply loved and venerated by the Franciscan family, especially under her title the “Immaculate Conception.” Each day after chanting Midday Prayer, we pray a community rosary, chiefly for our living and deceased benefactors, the Abbess’s intentions and the needs of EWTN. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery takes its name from the beloved Portiuncula, “St. Mary of the Angels” which our Holy Father Saint Francis rebuilt, and where he died. His love for Our Blessed Mother has faithfully been passed on through the centuries and continues to renew our devotion to the Mother of God today.
“Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, holy Mother of God: you are the virgin made church and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, His Palace!
Hail, His Tabernacle!
Hail, His Home!
Hail, His Robe!
Hail, His Servant!
Hail, His Mother!
And, [hail] all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state that you may make them faithful to God.”
~ Our Holy Father Saint Francis
The cloister with its grilles and high wall may appear to be the supreme sacrifice of the monastic life to those looking from the outside. But for those called to live within the walls, the Papal Enclosure observed by Poor Clares around the world is an inestimable gift. Far from being an escape from the world, the monastic enclosure exists to propel one towards the “one thing necessary” and greater intimacy with Christ. As Verbi Sponsa states:
“The enclosure therefore, even in its physical form, is a special way of being with the Lord, of sharing in ‘Christ’s emptying of himself by means of a radical poverty, expressed in . . . renunciation not only of things but also of ‘space,’ of contacts, of so many benefits of creation,’ at one with the fruitful silence of the Word on the Cross. It is clear then that ‘withdrawal from the world in order to dedicate oneself in solitude to a more intense life of prayer is nothing other than a special way of living and expressing the Paschal Mystery of Christ.’ It is a true encounter with the Risen Lord, a journey in ceaseless ascent to the Father’s house… If [nuns] have withdrawn from frequent contact with their fellowmen…they were intent on sharing to a more universal degree the fatigue, the misery and the hopes of all mankind.” ~ Verbi Sponsa, no. 3
Silence and prayer are inseparable. By cultivating silence in the monastery and within the ‘interior cloister’ of the soul, one is free to speak always with Christ and to listen to Him. The cloister provides that ‘place apart’ where one can seek the face of Christ and learn from Him. Without the surfeit of distractions the world offers, the contemplative also comes to a deeper understanding of oneself, and experiences the need for conversion in order to grow closer to the Lord. Like Mary, who pondered the word of God in her heart, the nun finds her place in the heart of the Church in silent contemplation of the Word.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote that “Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, His message of life and His saving gift of the fullness of love.”
Divine Office (Matins & Lauds) Office of Readings & Morning Prayer
Divine Office Midmorning Prayer
Thanksgiving (Silent Prayer)
Divine Office Midday Prayer & Communal Rosary
Divine Office Midafternoon Prayer & Divine Mercy Chaplet
Lesson with Novice Mistress or Study
Divine Office (Vespers & Compline) Evening Prayer & Night Prayer
Supper & Dishes
Recreation or Music Practice
Each nun has a daily hour of adoration. She also has several hours of adoration during the night each week. Our ‘Free Time’ gives us the opportunity for extra prayer, rest, study, exercise, etc. Our days are spent in silence to foster recollection and prayer, although we are free to speak when necessary.
Through daily work, each nun finds a steady means to grow in charity by serving the needs of her sisters in imitation of Christ who “came to serve” (cf. Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45). At times, both demanding and rewarding, our assigned tasks allow us to contribute to the life of the community while providing challenges that foster personal growth. Whether the work is done with other sisters or individually, the nun finds that: “By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform.” ~ St. John Paul II
Each Sister contributes to the cleaning of the monastery and is given various responsibilities to fulfill. Some of the monastery jobs include cooking, sewing, sacristy work, mail correspondence, baking, portress and care of the infirm. All of this serves to support the main ‘work’ of prayer and adoration even as we seek to “keep the Lord ever before [us],” (cf. Ps 16:8) offering our labors in union with Christ.
Times of study are vital to our way of life as we seek to know Christ more deeply and be formed by His word.
At every stage of the vocational journey, the need for continual formation as disciples of Christ is supplemented by the study of scripture, Church documents, the Fathers and writings of the Saints.
St. Jerome (342-419 AD) wrote of the ever-surprising grace found in scripture study: “You are reading? No. Your betrothed is talking to you. It is your betrothed, that is, Christ, who is united with you. He tears you away from the solitude of the desert and brings you into his home, saying to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Master.’”
Fr. Timothy Radcliff, O.P., also expounds on the reason for a formation fortified by study: “Our study has this ultimate purpose, to bring us to this moment of conversion when our false images of God are destroyed so that we may draw near to the mystery.”
A vibrant communal life is a support to growth in holiness and a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s action. In seeking one another’s good, supporting each other through prayer and service in sisterly affection, we encounter God through one another’s selfless love and are drawn together in Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit to live the great commandments – love of God and neighbor – we are enabled build up the Body of Christ, the Church.
Growth in Community
Frail and human as we are, living in common challenges our natural tendencies towards self-interest and provides concrete calls to live the Gospel. Thus community life prompts conversion of mind and heart as each press on towards perfect charity. In addition, the gifts and talents of each Sister consistently surprise and edify the others! Seeing our fellow Sisters’ personal growth is an encouragement to each member of the community in faithfully living our call. Thus life together becomes a small taste of the joy of the heavenly Jerusalem where we will all share in the fullness of God’s own life.
Daily recreation is an important time as we share and laugh together, building friendships in Christ. On Sundays and Solemnities we have extra hours of recreation where we play games (inside or outside!) or have extended time to talk together. During the Octaves of Christmas and Easter, we recreate at meals and enjoy the festivities of the season together!
Loving one another with the charity of Christ, let the love you have in your hearts be shown outwardly in your deeds so that, compelled by such an example, the sisters may always grow in love of God and in charity for one another.
~ Our Holy Mother Clare of Assisi
Music and Singing
I will sing to the Lord all my life. ~ Psalm 104:33
Make music to my God while I live… ~ Psalm 146:2
Music practice is a part of our communal life. We meet together twice a week to prepare for the daily conventual Mass. All who can sing participate, and join in offering praise to our God. There are a large variety songs, styles and genera that are covered in one practice! From Gregorian Chant and hymns written by St. Ambrose in the 4th century, to new compositions of classics like the Ave Maria written by a fellow PCPA, one can taste the Church’s rich musical tradition year round.