“The primary purpose of World Day of Cloistered Life, traditionally known as Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”), is to support—both spiritually and materially—the gift of the cloistered contemplative life,” said Rev. Thomas Nelson, O. Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. And as Pope Francis reminds us, “it is an opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and in silent work.”
Pope Pius XII first instituted this worldwide ecclesial event in 1953 to publicly recognize women and men who so generously give of themselves to this unique calling and who each day, from the various convents and monasteries spread throughout the world, offer prayer unceasingly. Pope St. John Paul II later expanded its celebration and encouraged Catholics to support this sublime vocation in any way possible.
Since his election, Pope Francis has highlighted the vital importance of cloistered contemplative life in the Church’s mission. In the recent Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere, the Holy Father wrote that those who devote the whole of their lives to the contemplation of God “are a living sign and witness of the fidelity with which God, amid the events of history, continues to sustain His people.”
World Day of Cloistered Life has a special significance as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy comes to a close. “The prayers and sacrifices of cloistered religious is the foundation of all the Church’s work of mercy,” said Father Nelson, “because their prophetic witness and prayerful presence secures the grace needed for God’s merciful love to reach even the most hardened and distant of hearts.”
The nationwide effort to publicize World Day of Cloistered Life (Pro Orantibus Day) is coordinated by the Institute on Religious Life. The IRL was founded in 1974 by Servant of God Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J., and is comprised of bishops, priests, religious and laity who support and promote the vowed religious life.
A FREE PDF packet of resources is available online, including a meditation for this occasion at CloisteredLife.com.
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The cloistered religious featured on the 2016 World Day of Cloistered Life logo is from the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The community’s website is OPNuns-FH.org.