‘Our work is to pray, so we pray for the world’
|The full-length glass windows bring the beauty of God’s creation into the heart of the church. Photos: Debra Vermeer.|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook April 2015
By Debra Vermeer
When visitors enter the Jamberoo Abbey church, the first thing to strike them is the stunning backdrop of full-length glass windows behind the altar and tabernacle, bringing the beauty of God’s creation right into the heart of the church and allowing all who worship there to turn their prayer outward, for the world.
“We are Benedictines and our work is to pray, so we pray for the world,” says The Abbey’s guest mistress, Sr Therese.
“The glass windows are a symbol of our prayer going out to the world and of the world coming to us, so we’re very connected with everything that’s going on out there. I try to assure our guests that even when they go home they can know that we are here praying for them and I ask them to pray for us.”
Sr Therese said the life of The Abbey was ordered towards one goal – seeking God - and the whole structure of the day is focused on that seeking, both individually and as a community.
“Our life is seeking God, with the Gospel as our guide and using the Rule of Benedict as our way of living the Gospel, with the underpinning of our vows (of obedience, stability and conversion of life),” she said.
In accordance with the Rule of Benedict, there is a great focus on balance in daily life, with a community schedule designed to provide time for prayer, work, leisure/community and rest.
Work includes making candles and crafts for sale, farming, spiritual direction, retreats and other tasks associated with caring for guests and the upkeep of The Abbey.
|Sr Therese and Sr Maureen Therese at The Abbey door.|
The Sub-Prioress, Sr Maureen Therese, said the way of life reflected an intense desire for God.
“Because from the time you open your eyes in the morning until the time you go to sleep, your whole being is focused on God,” she said.
“Our Abbess, Mother Mary Barnes, says that prayer is simply desire. And I think that’s a good way of describing our life here; it’s intense desire for God, and that reaches out to people in the world, all religions, all types of people.”
Hospitality is another Benedictine characteristic, and the Jamberoo Abbey offers a peaceful, prayerful place for people to take time out of their busy lives and rest awhile with God.
“That’s part of why we’re here. We’re here for the people,” Sr Maureen Therese said. “We’re not here to mend their breaks or teach them anything. We’re here as a witness and as an ear, listening to them, providing precious space and silence.”
The sisters have welcomed the Year of Consecrated Life as a time of thanksgiving and reflection on their vocation and on Pope Francis’ call for religious to ‘Wake up the World’.
“I think that before I can Wake up the World I have to wake up myself,” Sr Therese said. “That’s where I have to begin, and we as a community are continually called to wake up.
“It’s really the call to joy and to live with the awareness that we are the ones who bring Christ’s love, hope, faith and joy to others. That’s the great call.”
To find out more about The Abbey click here
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