For Me to Live is Christ

I am a Dominican nun. My home is a monastery atop a hill in suburban New Jersey. I would like to tell something about my way of life. But in order to see the heart of it, to feel its breath, and to grasp the spirit that animates it, you must know at the outset that this cloistered Dominican life—my life—is not so much a thing as it is a Person; is not something but rather Someone. For me to live is Christ.

Christ—His love and that of souls—is its beginning. Christ—His work, the constant accomplishment of the Father’s will—is its substance. Christ—His example and the Rule inspired by Him—is its model. Christ;—He Himself;—is its goal, both for me—the silent “Sister Preacheress” and for each soul for whom He has drawn me here.

The work of the Dominican Nun is one thing. This lifelong, love-filled job begun in the novitiate and continued from the moment of final vows until death, is one thing only—to be clothed, mind, heart and soul with Christ her Love; to do His Will and allow Him to do His Will in her and through her for the good of souls. Her principal tool is her Vow of Obedience; her love is that hand that wields it.

For me, to live is Christ—to show forth daily in charity and humility His own earthly round of prayer, labor, obedience unto death. This is not to be abject and weak; it is to be subject and strong, as He was subject to His own creatures.

To live is Christ. To live His selfless, sacrificial life to the hilt, the only way in which it can be lived; to give Him room to live in me as He wishes, without opposing or obstructing His plan; to make His plan—which is the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls—my own one plan, and to live out my life for that same end for which He in His turn was consumed, even to death on a cross.

This is to be strong and tranquil, to possess true joy—not passing pleasure, but full and lasting joy, because it is His and it is He.

Here is the key to an understanding of my Dominican way of life; to live is Christ. And if a moment is ever reached in which it ceases to be Christ and narrows down to self, then from that moment it ceases to be a life at all; it becomes a rather pointless existence.

For me, a daughter of Dominic, the “Lord-like one”, to live is Christ. And if I am faithful, then even this very small daughter can hope some day like her great and holy father, to finish the verse “…and to die is gain.”

 Sr. Maria of the Cross, O.P. (+2012)