Have you ever loved something so much that it captivated your every impulse? We've all admired someone so passionate about their singular pursuit that they would sacrifice anything to attain it. It is not that they hate movies, socializing and good food; it's just that they want an emancipated India or the Wimbledon title more. Having found their "pearl of great price", these people would give up all else to buy and till the field of their desire. I believe God has revealed God's Self as One Who is captivated like this, fallen vulnerably in love with us creatures -- [Her] "pearl of great price". It is a love that is outpouring, generative, sacrificial, persistent, thirsty, costly. It asks nothing but our reciprocity. All of us feel this to some measure but sometimes that unwavering desire of God finds its echo in the desire of a soul to live only for God, to God, and in God. It is all such a "˜contemplative' soul aspires to be "“ an ever deepening echo of God's love. For this she sacrifices all, not in rejection of the world, but in joyful recognition that there is One for Whom she was made and through Whom she can participate in the world's healing by her fidelity to [His] likeness and through her prayer.
Hello! I'm Adwoa and I believe God has called me to try my vocation with the Order of Julian of Norwich(OJN), a contemplative monastic community of the Episcopal Church. I've started this page because I need your help in two critical ways! First, please pray for me as my discernment continues to unfold. Actually, I ask your prayers for all religious Orders, that God will continue to open hearts eager to give themselves in consecrated service to God and the world. This is a time and ours is a culture in which the individual sacrifices involved in religious vocation are giving many pause. Pray that this witness in the Church will continue to find ways to flourish as it has in the past.
Second, I and the Order need financial help. Despite ardent efforts over the last two years, I remain saddled with student loan debt that prohibits my entry into Community. (Indeed, I share this reality with many in my generation, especially those who go into religious and social services.) Most monastic Orders simply do not have the resources to help applicants enter Community and, because of the Vow of Poverty, such considerations must be addressed before admission. So I write to ask you prayerfully to consider offering financial support toward a potential vocation. About 70% of the amount I hope to raise would resolve the prohibitive portion of my student debt. About 25% would go towards other expenses associated with trying a vocation with the Order (such as healthcare for the novitiate years). About 5% would support an upcoming pilgrimage into the desert with a close friend who is also discerning monastic vocation, which we have planned in order to prepare for these transition. All of this will supplement what I continue to contribute toward these purposes through work and savings. These financial needs are a one-time consideration; once admitted, a Member lives a Vow of Poverty wherein her personal expenses are addressed through the common resources of the Order.
OJN leads a semi-cloistered (enclosed) life devoted to prayer and self-surrender to a God of Love as expressed in the "Revelations of Diving Love" by Julian of Norwich. I've been in relationship with the Order for 4 years and a professed Oblate of the Community (one who lives their life of prayer as a lay-person in the world) for nearly 3 years. In that time, I've become aware of my own deep longing for a dedicated life of prayer and conversion such as the monks and nuns live within their enclosure. I believe this desire is a mirror of God's yearning for us and while I have valued my outward ministries over the last several years, I sense it is now time to surrender fully to this "pearl" as my singular witness to the goodness of God in the world.
On December 1, 2013, God permitting, I will be moving out to live with OJN in a 6-9 month internship as the next step in my discernment, formation and fellowship with them. It is my hope that this time of internship may transition into full discernment with the Order as a postulant. However, it is my humbling reality that I cannot move farther by myself "“ I need the loving financial support of those around me. While I confess that asking this help so directly fills me with anxiety, I can also joyfully say that I write only because of an overwhelmingly greater conviction that this is how God is asking my life of me. And I desire so fully to say, "Yes."
If you'd like to know more about this tradition within the Church, feel free to contact me; I'd love to hear from you and share what I am still learning along the path. If you would like prayer and intercessions please also send me a message, whether or not you feel called to contribute financially! It has been my great delight to pray with people at Communion and daily Prayers over the last few years, and it has helped me live part of my vocation here. I'd be honored to be in fellowship with you in that way, too! Conversely, please do not forget to hold me and others moving toward this vocation in steadfast prayer as well. If you would like to connectwith the Order of Julian for a retreat or to learn more about their lifestyle or the discernment process please visit their website. And, of course, if you feel called to contribute financially to this adventure please do so here. Also, please share this site liberally with everyone you know who might be blessed to know of this journey or willing to contribute to its success.
Finally, I've thought about how I'd like to say thank you to those who do feel called to contribute financially. Since prayer is the heart of my current sense of call, I wanted to offer something connected to that ministry. An emerging joy of mine is making knotted prayer ropes (similar to beaded 'rosary') for personal use. People might find them helpful for integrating the body in prayer, for repeating centering words or liturgies, and for aids to intercession. At any rate, I would love to send this reminder and memento of our connection through prayer to anyone who would like one for yourself or a loved on (just send me an email!) In consideration of the cost of supplies and shipping I'd *request* a contribution of $50 or more but anyone should feel free to ask.
Thank you; and Peace in Jesus,
"No Wait!" you say, " Tell me again, what is a contemplative nun exactly?"
The apostle Paul tells us that the Body of Christ has many members, each with a unique role. Some will be preachers and teachers - the voice of the Body. Some are its mind - translating the living theology of the Church for its present day. Some will be the feet, carrying the service and fellowship of the Church into the world. Some are its arms, tenderly holding those who are outcast or oppressed as though they were Jesus himself.
In addition to all these, the Church throughout history has understood some - contemplatives - to be Its heart, sustaining the active works of the Body by em-bodying within it the mysteries of Jesus' incarnation, loving self-sacrifice, death, and resurrection by their own steady conversion of life. Those who feel so called seek to live as one with Jesus, just as He was one with His Creator, and to pray in secret for us all with unwavering faith, hope and love to their Creator who sees in secret. As one Community puts it, "The task of the contemplative nun is to be the heart of the Church in continual dialogue with the Trinity- a continual heart to heart, listening and responding to the Eternal Word of the Father. Our Lord told us, 'Abide in me... without me you can do nothing.' [They] abide in Him as [they] live hidden in Christ, and through prayer bear fruit in the Church's apostolic members."
In a self-oblation of faith, the contemplative vocation roots the Church deeply but quietly in the soul of Divine Life from which all its other vitality flows. While contemplative vocation is characterized by a hidden, cloistered expression, it nonetheless bears extravagant witness to the truth of God's upside-down kingdom in which the first shall be last and those who lose their lives will find them. The book Brothers and Sisters writes, "The [cloistered] sisters and brothers...are signs of contradiction. They have found love in celibacy, freedom in discipline, quest in stability, hungers satisfied in a regimen of fasting, needs met in poverty, fulfillment in selflessness, and conversation with the Holy One in elected silence."
In Holy Poverty they become disentangled from ownership so they may grow in gratitude and find their deepest identity in the abundance of God. In Holy Chastity they devote all their energies to God who has "made us for himself, restored us by his passion, and ever keeps us in his love" as Julian would say - and, through Him, in non-attached availability to all God's creation. In Holy Obedience they let go of self-will in order to discover humility, trust, and responsiveness, striving to love and will God's will only. In Holy Prayer they seek God, trusting His Presence and freely responding "not only with their lips but with their lives" to His extravagant self-offering to us. In Community, they grow in charity and deference, embracing practical opportunities to transform abstract Vows into genuine conversion of life. It is this extravagant gamble of Faith that is the unique and vital witness of the contemplative vocation. It has the power to remind us all of the reasons behind the active things we do. May that witness encourage and vitalize us always.
(At top, two nuns of the Order, in the ocean on pilgrimage.)
(Below, 3 happy Oblates in their habits)
- Marie Alford-Harkey
- Laurie Williams
- Anonyomous Church
Adwoa Erica Lewis-Wilson