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Going behind the walls

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

February 19, 2020

“I’m going to be in Watertown next week. I’m visiting the Precious Blood Monastery,” I told my mother-in-law, who also lives in Watertown.

“You get to go behind the walls,” she asked, with surprise in her voice.

I’ll admit, I was more than a little excited to make the trip, despite the two-hour drive. As anyone who’s ever met me can attest, I’m an extreme extrovert. I take a lot of joy from exploring the world, working with others, experiencing new people and places.

I was excited because I’d be introduced to new people and a new place. I was excited because I was extremely curious about life inside a contemplative community, a life that seems so contrary to who I am as a person and the life I lead. I was excited because it was an opportunity to do something I’ve never done before – go to a monastery.

It was an amazing experience. These are amazing women.

One of the first things I noticed during my visit was that the phone seemed to ring every few minutes. As I spoke with the sisters, I learned that many of the phone calls were people asking for prayers. These individuals share their struggles, their sadness, their hopes and their needs with the sisters. To me, that would likely be a difficult part of their ministry. I thought it might be disheartening or depressing to spend so much time dealing with people who are hurting.

To the sisters, though, being trusted with the needs of others is a blessing.

They said they felt privileged to pray for those people. They said they take joy that so many people know prayer is important and impactful.

I sometimes struggle with prayer. I have a bad habit of overloading my schedule (though I’ve made a conscious effort to reduce my commitments recently), and I sometimes struggle to find a consistent time and place to pray. Yet these are women who build their days – build their lives, in fact – around prayer and growing closer to the Lord.

While I sometimes fight my complacency and my laziness to force myself to attend Mass on Sunday, the sisters expressed how profoundly grateful they are to the priests who make it possible for them to celebrate Mass daily.

But what struck me most about the Sisters of the Precious Blood was their joy. Each sister’s face lit up as she spoke about her vocation, about praying for others, about spreading the devotion to the Precious Blood.

They seemed so close to one another and so close to the Lord.

It amazed me that in my opportunity “to go behind the walls,” I witnessed love and ministry that can’t be contained by walls.

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