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The Golden Thread

Sister Xavier went on reading from Holy Rule. “Although the continual labor of their vocation as teachers does not permit the Constitutions to impose great austerities on them, the religious should nevertheless esteem, love, and practice them according to their strength.”

Words of sense. Balance. Appropriate for the mixed life, as it was called: contemplative-active. Already, after twelve months of daily meditations and instruction in the Ignatian method, Claire knew the elation and fatigue of mental prayer. Yet she had always been drawn to prayer and longed to grow in it. She respected the four-century-old tradition of contemplation that the Agnetines so prized. Until she went to college and met nuns who were monastic, she had never heard the Divine Office chanted. There she would kneel in the outer chapel and listen to the nuns chanting the Hours in that high, steady, sweet drone. She discovered that all over the world, at certain hours of day and night, these same songs of praise and need were being chanted by nuns and monks. How glorious a thing! It seemed to her to partake of eternity. And now she herself was learning Gregorian chant, relearning Latin, making her own the great prayer of God’s people crying to Him from the desert of time. “As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for You, O God.” Despite heat and fatigue, once she was in chapel and lifting her voice with those ancient words, she felt part of something large, significant, something that with or without her would go on and make an incalculable difference in the eternal scheme of things. “I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; He set my feet upon a crag; He made firm my steps. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.”

From The Golden Thread, p.32