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Monastery of the Most Holy Redeemer, Bolwarra Heights, Australia

Religious Practices

The nuns recite the full Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) in English, every day. The Offices are Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Parts of the Office are sung. The nuns have a resident Chaplain, so there is Mass every day, followed by a short time of Thanksgiving (silent prayer). The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary follows Terce.

After the little Office of None, they kneel on the floor with their arms extended while the bell tolls 33 times for the years of the life of Jesus and the nuns pray for the dying, in His memory. There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the nuns to Adore at evening meditation every day. Sometimes it is exposed for other meditation times as well. There is Benediction every Friday. After Compline the nuns have an anthem to Our Lady and the Prioress sprinkles each nun with Holy Water.

There are three periods of Silent Meditation (personal prayer) in the morning, afternoon and evening. A Sister may use the afternoon meditation time to observe the Stations of the Cross. There are various places -- "station cloisters" -- in the convent where she may do this alone. Everyday each sister visits the small side-chapel (shrine) of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to ask for her intercession.

Each Sister has a Rosary as part of her habit. It is attached to her belt for easy use.

The bell for the Angelus is rung for the sisters to observe, in the silence of their hearts or together.

At a Final Profession, the sisters preserve the tradition of placing a pall over a nun. It represents the sister's "death to the world" and her commitment to live for Christ.

The names of the sisters are "recycled", that is - they usually choose a name that has been the name of a sister in the past (part of their hiddeness). The first name of the sisters is Mary. They also have an ending to their name (e.g.: of the Holy Spirit, of the Blessed Sacrament, of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). A nun is never referred to by her first name alone, she is always Sister Mary...name.

Grilles are present in both the choir and parlours. The Choir grille is only opened for Communion.

Only a limited amount of food is available on Fridays, due to fasting on that day. However, if a sister is ill or for some other reason is unable to fast, provision will be made for her.

There is no TV, radio, internet or newspapers. Though sometimes they do listen to recordings of suitable subjects or music during dinner. Two evenings a week are "Hermit Nights" where sisters are free after supper, to say Compline privately and return to their cells earlier than usual (to sleep, pray, read, etc). There is a self-contained Hermitage in the garden. A sister can take her Retreat and spend the night there (if she wishes) and be really alone with the Lord.

And for those worried about wildlife; there are no snakes inside the security fence!

The nuns' primary 'work' is prayer, but they also have various jobs to do within the monastery and it's grounds. This may be helping in the income-producing work of the Altar Bread Department. Other work is varied and includes housekeeping, cleaning, cooking, administration, laundry, ironing, gardening and the many other things that are involved in running a home and business.

Study and Spiritual Reading time is worked into the daily timetable for every Sister. It is an important aspect of monastic life; to learn and deepen understanding, for true balance.

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