For many in our community the discernment of our vocation began with a desire to be a missionary or some similar form of apostolate. However, as our discernment progressed instead of finding peace in this desire there was a sense of lack. It wasn't enough. Missionary life would 'restrict' us to just one location while in the meantime the whole world was yearning for the Good News. The active apostolates were just too limited in outreach. We wanted to bring Christ to everyone, every single soul.
The monastic life is like Moses on the mountain. Not the famous time when he received the Commandments, but during the battle against the Amalekites. As Joshua led the Israelites in combat on the battlefield, Moses remained on a hilltop above with his hands raised. When Moses raised his hands the battle went in favor of Israel, but when he let them drop the Amalekites prevailed.
If Moses had gone down with Joshua into the battle he would only have been able to fight one man at a time...maybe two if he were particularly daring! His influence would have been restricted to the enemy he directly engaged. But on the hilltop, though it looked as if he did nothing the battle was dependent on him. He never faced off with an Amalekite warrior; in fact, he did not even hold his hands up himself...they were held up by Aaron and Hur! And yet the outcome of the battle lay in his hands (literally!).
Similarly, Jesus's most efficacious act was not his teaching, not even his miracles. It wasn't the multiplying of the loaves or the raising of Lazarus. It was his seemingly 'inactive' crucifixion. He converted many through his teaching and miracles. He would have converted still more had he continued his ministry on earth. Yet it was through is total gift of self on the Cross that has converted untold billions.
So it is with us. Our most efficacious prayer for you is not necessarily when we are on our knees in choir. It isn't the words we pray or the acts of penance we do. The efficacy of our lives is rooted in our consecration as religious. By our consecration everything we are and everything we will be is set aside for God and made sacred. By this consecration, effected by our profession, our entire being becomes an act of worship. We become Moses on the hilltop, Jesus on the Cross.
There are many things with which our life is identified: the habit, enclosure, common life, poverty, chastity, obedience. Yet these are not the heart of our life, they are not its purpose or end. They are aids which enable and guard our life of consecration, of worship.
Many people identify religious as those vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience--and rightly so, as the Church has often defined religious in this way. Yet the fundamental virtue of our vocation, the reason why we are called 'religious', is the virtue of religion.
"The virtue of religion is the most excellent of the moral virtues; it is akin to the theological virtues because through prayer we reach out to God Himself. Since by religious consecration a holocaust is made to God and all other virtues become enriches with this virtue of religion." (Consecrated Life by Dominic Hoffman, OP)
Religion is to give God what is due to Him--namely worship--, and by our profession what is due to Him is all of us, the totality of our being. It is this gift, lived out day to day, that God responds to by flooding the world with grace. Our growth in charity is mysteriously fruitful in the life of the Church (Verbi Sponsa).
As we discerned where God was calling us, the frustration over the limits of the active apostolate slowly opened our hearts to God's call to the cloister. Whereas before we felt hemmed in by the idea of being restricted to a missionary territory, we feel abundantly free within the cloister walls. While the relatively 'small' number of souls we could help in an active apostolate made us feel limited; the silence, solitude, and separation from the world in the monastery lets us reach to the ends of the earth, to every soul.
By our consecration, our life--all of it, even when we are recreating or sleeping!--is mysteriously fruitful in the building up of the Kingdom of God. So when you ask for our prayers, one of the ways we 'pray' for you is just by living out our vocation as a sacrifice of praise for God!