Contemplative Community of Our Lady of Sion
The site of Ein Karem is itself very significant: the hill where the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and where she sang the Magnificat; the hill where John the Baptist, the precursor, was born and where the Benedictus was sung. Until 1948, it was an Arab village with a Christian and Muslim population, and it has now become a kind of suburb to the Israeli Jerusalem. It is also the hill where stands the large “Hadassah Ein Karem” Hospital, which in addition to the sick – both Israeli and Palestinian as well as others – also takes in victims of violence. And the hill is very near “Yad Vashem”, where the memory of the Shoah is kept alive. This geographical insertion corresponds with our vocation of praise and at the same time of supplication – the two fundamental dimensions of the Psalms; our location reminds us that we are called to unite in one and the same love drawn from the Heart of Christ the Jewish people and the Nations, whatever the events might be.
Our vocation is to remember through our entire lives God’s faithful love of the Jewish people and God’s fidelity to the promises regarding the whole of humankind, Jews and the Nations.
How do we do this?
The three pillars of our contemplative life are
The Word of God – the Eucharist – Community Life
We study and meditate the Scriptures daily, reading them in the light of Christian and Jewish Tradition. In this place of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, who were carrying Jesus and John the Baptist in their wombs, we experience in situ the unity of the Scriptures – of the First and the New Testament. “St. John is on the edge, on the boundary of the two Testaments; his left hand rests on the Old Testament, and his right on the Gospel.” (Fr. Theodore to the novices)
The Jewish life that surrounds us with its rhythm of weekdays and of Shabbat, the feasts throughout the year, the Hebrew language spoken in daily life, all this makes us familiar with the Semitic mentality. In addition to this, over the years we have visited the places themselves where the history of salvation took place.
In the Liturgy of the Hours we celebrate and proclaim God’s mercy at work in history, from creation to the final fulfillment of the promises. By singing the Psalms – partly in Hebrew – we bring before God all that dwells in the human heart, in the heart of the peoples in whose midst we live.
In the Eucharistic celebration, we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we await his coming: “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26). The Eucharist is the privileged place to ask for universal reconciliation, in view of which we are consecrated.
We prolong the Eucharistic celebration by keeping watch before the exposed Blessed Sacrament; in general we do this throughout the morning.
The community tries to respond to the call to live in a sisterly community as a participation in the love that unites the Father and the Son, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). “May they be one as we are One.” (Jn 17:22). That is how the community lives from day to day the reconciliation which it calls upon Jerusalem and the world.
The rhythm of our days is structured around the times of personal and community prayer.
Work in silence allows us to interiorize the Word of God.
Through our work in the guest house laundry, we participate in the hospitality offered by our apostolic Brothers and Sisters.
Reading the news during meals opens our hearts and our prayer to the world. Thanks to internet, we can follow the important local and world issues.
The Blessed Virgin Mary believed in the fulfillment of the promises and exulted for joy in God her Savior. Through her paschal song, she leads us to hope against all hope and to give thanks for the plan of salvation of the One God.