Father Theodore’s thinking on contemplative sisters
1840 Introduction to the life of st Bernard”. Fr. Theodore
“The mysterious root of evangelical life is in Jerusalem …. When Christianity began, the nucleus of contemplative souls developed in Jerusalem; later this continued in the deserts, in the cloisters of the monastic orders.“
1852 Letter from Fr. Theodore to Alphonsine Würmser on November 28
We really must return to our first idea of a hidden sanctuary where the lamp of prayer will burn while the active sisters work outside. This idea is very clear in my mind; but in order to realize this, it will be necessary to proceed slowly and with much experience; an appropriate place is also necessary. All this will mature and will come about in its own time.”
1853 Fr. Theodore’s conversations with the first novices September 21
“Not all of you are destined to enter into the battle of the active life; there will be Daughters of Sion who will remain in the sanctuary to offer their prayers, their penances and their mortifications for the salvation of Israel, while the others are active outside. Armies to fight the Amalekites are not the only thing necessary; Moses praying on the mountain is also needed; and while some are in the valley in order to overturn the enemies, others will raise their arms to heaven and pray. The combatants would not have been victorious by themselves; in the same way, the prayer of Moses without combatants would also not have triumphed. Combat and prayer at the same time are necessary”
1861 Letter from Fr. Theodore to Sr. Emmanuel Guillemin on September 9
“In my last letter I said something to you about my ideas concerning the Ecce Homo. These ideas have been with me for more than twenty years, since they were born with the Congregation and they are contemporary with the very foundation of the community. When there was still only one house in Paris, I dreamed of a sanctuary that would in a certain sense be hidden, which is to say, behind the active work; I wanted there to be a group of contemplative souls consecrated especially to prayer, Carmelites of Sion who are separated from the external noise but who form one single family with the sisters in active life – the union of Martha and Mary – who pray and work in the same spirit. (…) Father Marie knows of this thinking; I’m only giving you a sketch.”
1863 Letter from Fr. Theodore to Sr. Alphonsine Würmser on May 15
For twenty years now, which is to say, since the beginning of Sion, God has put into my heart the idea of a contemplative life that is attached to the active life, like two branches of a single stem, supporting one another. This idea will be realized in Jerusalem.
1872 General Chapter, Intervention by Fr. Theodore
“Since the beginning of Sion, I have had the idea of setting up a house where the sisters who are completely dedicated to contemplative life would live a way of life that is adapted to that special mission; they would be a kind of Sionian Carmelites. I believed that this could be done in Jerusalem, and that is why I accepted the word monastery. This thought has not been realized, and I doubt that it will ever be realized in Jerusalem; I don’t know if a cloistered life is possible in that country; but the idea in itself pleases me, and I want to pass it on to you for the future.
Whichever house might one day be chosen to realize this thought, it must be the simplest house of all. Its name will be no different from that of the others; it will be called a house or a convent.
Rule as revised in 1872 and approved in 1874
“If Providence gives the Congregation the necessary personnel and resources for the foundation of a convent destined to contemplative souls, we shall be happy to realize this thought, whether in Jerusalem or in some other place. The Sisters of Sion who are called to this kind of life will observe the strictest cloister, the most absolute silence, and they will always say the big Roman Office.
This house would serve as a place of renewal for the Sisters of Sion who might need to re-immerse themselves in the living waters of piety.”