The Meaning and Value of the Enclosure of Nuns

According to Church Documents


From an Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns
by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life 1999


The ancient spiritual tradition of the Church, taken up by the Second Vatican Council, explicitly connects the contemplative life to the prayer of Jesus on the mountain, or solitary place not accessible to all but only to those whom he calls to be with him, apart from the others.


The enclosure, even in its physical form, is a special way of being with the Lord, of sharing in Christ's emptying of himself by means of a radical poverty, expressed in renunciation not only of things but also of "space", of contacts, of so many benefits of creation.


The monastery is intended to create a space of separation, solitude and silence, where God can be sought more freely in a life not only for him and with him but also in him alone.


This would be pointless if the individual let her mind fly out of the enclosure:


Therefore it is necessary that the person, free from all attachment, disquiet or distraction, interior and exterior, may gather her faculties and turn to God to welcome his presence in the joy of adoration and praise.


In the words of Pope John Paul II to nuns:


In the monastery everything is directed to the search for the face of God, everything is reduced to the essential, because the only thing that matters is what leads to him. Monastic recollection is attention to the presence of God: if it is dissipated by many things, the journey slows down and the final destination disappears from view.


If nuns go on the Internet, are they breaking enclosure?


Contemplative silence can in fact be undermined when noise, news and talk fill the enclosure. With prudent discernment and for everyone's benefit, the use of modern means of communication, such as fax machines, cellular telephones or the Internet, may be permitted in the monastery, for the exchange of information or for reasons of work.


Nuns on the Net


Colwich first had a computer in 1991 for the Accounts.Then in 1999 the Sisters working on Accounts were equipped with e-mail and Internet connection, and launched the website. Since 2002, all members of the community are offered access to computers, including e-mail and Internet. The first thing they did was to switch off the speakers! No one will spend much time surfing, but e-mail can be very useful for keeping in touch with family.