Prayer is at the heart of the life of the contemplative sisters. Community prayer (time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and the Divine Office) and solitary prayer mark the rhythm of their day. The Eucharist is the source and the summit of their whole life (Lumen Gentium, 11). The sisters always strive to live the Eucharist with increasing intensity and fervor.
The sisters live their total consecration to God in silence and solitude, as well as through fraternal charity. For, as says Saint John, «the one who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see» (1Jn 4:20). For this reason they desire to fully live the demand of a community life of sharing, service and cooperation. Several encounters each week (a study group, a chapter, a fraternal gathering) allow the sisters to concretely live fraternal charity without however, diminishing their solitude.
The place of the search for truth in the Sisters’ life
Like their brothers, they understand the importance of an authentic search for truth. In today’s world, is it not indeed necessary to purify the intelligence of all a priori stemming from traditions (family, religious or political), and of all the imagination which often prevents a true contact with reality? The imagination, the a priori, the subjectivity are indeed major obstacles to contemplative life. In order to be offered to God, the intelligence must be purified; it must become objective once again
For the sisters, the awakening to a philosophical reflection starting from the experience of reality takes place in the Novitiate and continues in the priories according to the capabilities of each sister. This search for a true human wisdom renders the sisters more receptive to the life of grace. Far from preventing a genuine reading of the Word of God as in the case of a meditation too intellectual, this search for truth helps them receive the Word of God and live on it as the Blessed Virgin herself did (Lk 11:28), without transforming or reducing it to what they understood of it.
This search, which consists in making an effort to know the human person, and ultimately in discovering the existence of a First Being whom religious traditions call God, leads the sisters to a theological research: they study the teaching of the Magisterium and of Saint Thomas Aquinas whom they receive from the Church as the «common Doctor».
Being committed to follow Christ in poverty, chastity and obedience, the sisters strive to live a spirit of evangelical poverty. For this reason the sisters renounce the use of rich goods and costly facilities and they dedicate a part of their day to manual work (such as gardening, maintenance projects) or in earning their life, through the sale of the work of their hands (pottery, bookbinding, wood working, leather products, candles, rosaries, bee-keeping…). They also work to spread the philosophical and theological teachings of the Congregation of the Brothers of St John.
But since their principal role in the Church is that of prayer, they are unable to dedicate the time necessary to fully meet their material needs. Therefore they count upon the help of their friends…
As of October 2008, the Community numbered 362 sisters (118 perpetual professed, 134 simple professed, 99 novices and 11 oblate sisters) and about 20 in the “school of life” (a time of discernment before entering the novitiate). The sisters are of 31 different nationalities, and live in 32 priories located near the priories of the brothers:
Indre. – Monastère de Marie,
Mère de Miséricorde, 3A, rue Notre-Dame, 36180 Pellevoisin. Présence
de prière auprès du Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Miséricorde, en
coopération avec les Frères de Saint-Jean, chargés de l’accueil
des pèlerins et du rayonnement doctrinal. Tél. 02-54-39-00-46.
Fax : 02-54-39-09-91.
The Community of the Sisters of Saint John, established as a religious Institute of Diocesan Right by the Archbishop of Lyon on March 25, 1994, was founded by Father Marie-Dominique Philippe on December 8, 1982, seven years after the Brothers of Saint-John, in view of a contemplative life.
"A permanent desert in the heart of Mary is needed in order that the demands of contemplative life, thus of desert, which is written in the Brothers' Rule of Life, might be fully lived.
Indeed the desert for the brothers is not a withdrawing far away from everything, but a discovery of the mystery of the new desert: the desert of Jesus, with Mary at the foot of the Cross.
However, because of their apostolic demands, the Brothers cannot live this mystery in a continual way and as often as they would like. That is why it is necessary that there might be, within the Family of St John and close to the Apostolic Brothers, contemplative sisters who live in a full and exclusive way, this mystery of Mary at the foot of the Cross. Mary made known to John this mystery; she now lives it in glory and wants to give it to her children." (Father Marie-Dominique Philippe)
THE APOSTOLIC SISTERS OF SAINT JOHN
The Apostolic Sisters of Saint John strive to be both hidden in God with Christ, through Mary, and witnesses of God's love for mankind.
Their apostolate begins with the sign of their consecrated life, in prayer and in manual and intellectual work.
Whether associated with the apostolic life of the Brothers of Saint John or in their own activities, they strive to be attentive to all the Church's needs.
"To be consecrated to God, at the service of the Church, to lead a communal life in order to fully practice fraternal charity, to become ever more deeply rooted in the mystery of the Eucharist, the mystery of Mary, and the mystery of Peter in the person of the Holy Father and the bishops." (Constitutions, 25).