The Power of Contemplation

First of all I would like to thank the Holy Father for this letter to the whole Dominican family. In it he encourages us and urges us to live our Dominican charism more intensely – in my case as a contemplative nun.

Our father St. Dominic was, above all, a man of prayer and contemplation. At that time he saw the importance of prayer and believed that the power of contemplation and the hidden life could save souls living in the darkness of heresy. That is why he first founded a monastery of contemplative life in Prouilhe as a support for his apostolic life. And at the same time, “his zeal for the salvation of souls led him to form a body of committed preachers, whose love for the sacred page and integrity of life could enlighten minds and warm hearts with the life-giving truth of the divine word”.

St. Dominic’s fervour for prayer is very impressive. He spent the whole night in prayer. The “Nine ways of prayer” are a great legacy for all his children: bowing, prostration, genuflection, praying with his hands as he listens to the Word of God, arms outstretched, hands raised in the form of an arrow, etc. These gestures are the expression of his love for God and his fervour for the salvation of souls. When one falls in love with God and experiences His great Love, one cannot but express it and put it into action.

When I was about 15 years old, I went to a Buddhist temple. As ours is an oriental culture, Buddhism is very much part of our history. All the girls from school went there on an excursion. Being a Catholic from birth, I had never seen Buddhists worship, but that day I saw a classmate of ours praying with gestures in the temple: she was standing with her hands together. She opened both hands and stretched out her arms on either side. She would make a big circle and again clasp her hands together. She would go down on her knees. Her head was almost touching the ground and her palms were facing upwards. It seemed as if she were offering her whole being.

Seeing these gestures made such a great impression on me. Although I was not a Buddhist I respected their worship and I realised that in the soul of man there is a religious spirit and a search for God.

In Asia today, there are various religions, different cultures and situations: There are countries where many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are emerging. However, there are others who deny God and persecute him directly and indirectly. There are people who persecute others in the name of God. There are conflicts, there is suffering because of dictatorship. There are souls who have never heard the name of Jesus and follow a strange god.

If St Dominic had lived in our time and seen the circumstances in Asia, what would he have done? If, as it says in the Letter, “His witness to the mercy of Christ and his desire to bring its healing balm to those experiencing material and spiritual poverty was to inspire the foundation of your Order and shape the life and apostolate of countless Dominicans in varied times and places”. I believe that St. Dominic’s sons are carrying on his mission to this day. And we, as contemplative nuns, have the mission of prayer and intercession that St. Dominic so zealously bequeathed to us. We would like to prolong his ways of prayer, his vigils, his penance, his cries, his weeping, his tears, embracing in our hearts all the problems of Asia and the Dominicans working in mission lands.

Once again we thank the Holy Father for his letter and we assure him that he is also very present in our prayers.

Sr. Rosa Mª LEE, O.P.
Madre de Dios Monastery
Seoul, Korea

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