The Dominican family has a certain global unity analogous to that of the universal Church. The Order has one mission, but a variety of ways in which it is lived out. The integral purpose of the Order, that is, to give to others the fruits of contemplation, cannot be attained in that fullness proper to it except through the cooperation of all the members of the family. In this the particular role of the Dominican nuns plays the highest part, and is therefore of the greatest importance.
Our holy Father Dominic instituted the Dominican nuns as an essential part of the Order and an efficacious help to the life of the apostolate of the brethren. This contemplative life has always held a most important place in the Church and the Order, but perhaps today is more necessary than ever before to the Church, to the Order, and to society. Hence, the contemplative life of the nuns is of the greatest benefit to the apostolate of the Order, not only because, like other contemplatives, they offer their prayers and their life to God on behalf of the apostolic needs of the Church, but also because their contemplation and their life, inasmuch as they are truly and properly Dominican, are from the beginning and by their very nature ordered to the apostolate which the Dominican family exercises as a whole, and in which alone the fullness of the Dominican vocation is to be found.
The specific mission of the contemplative vocation is to undertake, cherish, and promote what is most deep in the life of the Church. Hence, the Dominican nuns in virtue of their profession are completely consecrated to the Church and called to bring about the extension of the kingdom of God in the world, by means that are hidden but nevertheless possess a wonderful efficacy.
It is obvious to the eyes of Christian faith that the contemplative life whereby one completely dedicates oneself to God, leaving aside, as far as human frailty allows, the business and the cares of this world is an outstanding gift of grace. For faith teaches the singular excellence of that form of life in which one can devote oneself without hindrance to praising God, to begging unceasingly for the graces necessary for the salvation of the world, to acquiring the true purity of conscience, to raising the hearts of all to heavenly things, to imitating Christ more perfectly and sharing his life more abundantly, to conversing with the Blessed Trinity dwelling in the sanctuary of the soul, cleaving to the Divine Persons by faith, hope and charity, and finally, to the embracing of everyone in the heart of Christ.
These realities are highlighted by the belief that Dominican monastic life is a new heart, made light through renunciation, rising in praise and joy; a new mind, honed by study, piercing to the marrow of reality. It is the risk of being fully alive: so to reverence the body and blood of God that we constantly feel and realize the effects of his redemption in the world. It is the individual self stripped down to poverty level, delivered over to Christ in prayer, set free for charity. Daily forgiving and forgetting what lies behind, our respective freedoms united in the fellowship of the Spirit, we press on together, responding to the upward call of the Father in Christ Jesus. Sr. Claire Lavoie, O.P.