“At the gate of the monastery let there be placed a wise old man, who knows how to receive and to give a message… And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails him, let him answer “Thanks be to God” or “A blessing!”

Then let him attend to them promptly, with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God and with the warmth of charity.  Should the porter need help, let him have one of the younger sisters…”

Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 66.

The monasteries of the Solesmes Congregation welcome candidates as extern sisters for the Benedictine life who are drawn by the beauty of the liturgy and authentic monastic values.  These candidates should have a desire to follow Christ  within the setting of our family  life and  act as intermediaries  between their cloistered sisters and their families, friends of the monasteries and the local Church.

Their work consists in being “eager to respond  with a fervent charity,” “in all the meekness of the fear of the Lord” (Rule of St Benedict, chapter 66) to all those outside  who enter into relation with the monastery. They welcome guests, visitors and anyone else who may come to the monastery door.  They look after the outside church, do shopping, drive their sisters to medical or business appointments, and represent the abbey at events in the life of the local Church. Because of their responsibility for hospitality, the timetable for Extern Sisters must necessarily be flexible.  But each one’s daily programme includes times for private prayer and reading.

All contemplatives  are turned towards the world in their prayer, but the Extern is privileged to do so in a concrete manner.  She has the privilege of performing Martha’s taks with Mary’s heart.  The Extern vocation encompasses  the calling of both Martha and Mary in a very concrete way.  She draws her strengtht to perform her tasks like Martha, by first  sitting at the feet of Jesus  in prayer and adoration before the tabernacle like Mary, so that she can go out to bring out Christ  to all with whom she comes into contact.  It is a unique vocation, suited to those who feel called to a deep life of prayer and service to others.  The Extern Sister is completely united  with her cloistered sisters in our common Benedictine vocation.

Formation: Their formation is like that of the other nuns, with instruction in Scripture, monastic spirituality and history, liturgy, doctrine, and chant, in the Novitiate.

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