This is the first monastery of its kind for the Community in North America. The sun was playing games on the day that I was there. See how my camera captured the one beautiful beam of sunlight that "descended" from the heavens?
The sisters came to Kansas City at the invitation of Archbishop Joseph Naumann who encountered their community in Rome. Archbishop Naumann believes that the effectiveness of their ministry flows from their poverty, which requires them to go out and beg for their daily bread and, in the process, share the Gospel with those they meet.
“By coming in poverty, many people welcome them,” the archbishop said. “Their strong and beautiful prayer life sustains them in living out this radical poverty.”
The sisters travel in threes to beg for their daily bread in the tradition of St. Dominic. They offer to pray with and for the people they meet and share the Gospel with them. Their motto is “Wounded, I will never cease to love.” Please look them up on your own.
Featured below are photos featuring the "noble" simplicity of their new liturgical space. My apologies, it will be short as I am not an expert, but just a silent observer and privileged pilgrim.
My first thought was that the symbolic language here is powerful because the elements of worship and life are united and harmonious. I sensed that intuitively, even before I began to explore the details.
The buildings are located on a modest plot of land in the middle of a neighborhood where some of the houses are in terrible disrepair and I am guessing that many residents are renters.
However, there are also signs of new life. For example, one house directly across from the monastery, was newly renovated and looked strikingly attractive. This is what can happen when a committed religious community moves in. They bring stability to an area and new hope.
Upon entering the monastery, you might hear quiet chanting and in the chapel, you will first be greeted by a large Annunciation icon which is attached to a wooden rafter overhead. Then, in a few more steps, you will be standing below a Nativity icon and, after that, the Baptism in the Jordan, the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion. Lastly, behind the altar, there is a large Holy Trinity icon. The stone medallion on the altar front is of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
There might have been more icons in the processional order, but you get the idea. You are approaching the Light of Christ. Under each, you can pause to venerate or adore. Although the iconography is not original, the artworks chosen are "the best of", quality reproductions by Russian iconographer, Andre Rublev, the famous Life of St Clare icon from the Basilica di Santa Chiara in Assisi, the Vladimir icon, at Mt Sinai Pontocrator and more.
On the side chapel walls, above the minimalist kneelers, are icons of Dominican and Franciscan Saints. The Community is shaped both by Dominican and by Franciscan spirituality.
Even though it's Lent, real flowers adorn the Our Lady of Vladimir icon and rest by the side of Tabernacle. Permit me to quote my English friends by saying there's something "very lovely about the whole arrangement, isn't there really?"
The last three photos are of the exterior, central front hallway and the sacristy which, if ordered even a foot smaller, might have qualified to be called a cupboard. Perhaps a handful of people could squeeze in together, but it most appeals as a solitary, prayerful space for preparation.
In sum, it was all wonderfully inspirational and pure. Visitors are welcome.
"The little monasteries are also, for all those who pass by, a break along the road, a place where one is welcome: a source of living water, so that all together, rich and poor, we can come to know the joy of the Gospel."
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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