We live in “unprecedented times.” This oft-repeated phrase has not only made the headlines of the daily newspaper and graced the lips of many a newscaster but has also become an ever-present mantra of our everyday encounters. “Unprecedented times” describes the bewildering conglomeration of political chaos, religious tensions, and a pandemic-ridden society.
Yet, it is precisely times like these that have set a precedent for vocations to contemplative life: The Roman Empire crumbled while St. Benedict composed his monastic rule. The Great Western Schism plagued the papacy while St. Catherine of Siena did penance for the healing of the Church. Nuns of the Lisieux Carmel were dying of the Asiatic flu while St. Thérèse prayed for the health and healing of Europe.
In just a few months, I will follow this precedent by leaving behind the life I know to enter as a postulant with the contemplative Dominican nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. To me, this seems like the best response I can give to our current social climate, and to life more broadly.