The monastery, the “house of conversation”
Saint Dominic, the great preacher, was, first of all, a contemplative. Before giving birth to the male branch of the Order, he wanted to found a monastery of nuns (1206). Dominic loved to talk less. When he opened his mouth, it brought forth words purified by prayer and listening.
Silence is the privileged place of intimacy. In his apostolic journeys, Dominic often used to keep a distance from his brothers in order to stay recollected in prayer. Yet, the sources also indicate that there was no one more sociable than him. He loved to converse with the Word and with the people whom he could give the fruit of his familiarity with God. Once, he stayed for a whole night in an inn, engaging himself in a very lively dialogue with the host who was in search of the truth.
St. Dominic was so passionate about God, the people and everyone, that anyone who came to know him, fell in love with him. Relationship with God, if it is authentic, always humanizes and takes one closer to the heart of others. “By this they will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13,35). Constant conversation with God makes the dialogue among the sisters more authentic and profound, and it cannot but open ourselves towards others. How could we stop ourselves from proclaiming to everyone our own encounter with Him?
A monastery is a ‘house of preaching”. It is the ‘house of conversation’. It is the place where the gospel becomes ‘readable” for all, because it is written in our lives. The nun lives “hidden” in the side of Christ from where she draws that love which fills her heart and is poured on all His children. And God makes use of the gifts of each nun to reach the hearts of people. Dominican life is to value and encourage every sister, so that she preaches using every gift that the Spirit has poured on her.
We converse with others not only during spiritual encounters and lectio divina, even making use of the colours, the music, our creativity, but also with simple friendship. In fact, it is through the most ordinary ways of human relationships that we are able to enter the hearts of people, welcome others into our lives, create bonds and friendships, share the fears, difficulties and joys of people, making ourselves reliable and thus able to bring God into the heart of everyone and everyone in to the Heart of God. But we also like to make use of the prevailing means of communication that identify itself with some “virtual places” such as the internet, facebook, and whatsapp. However, we do it as contemplatives who, every day learn from Jesus how to talk, relate, heal, and give hope, life and joy.