Discover Hidden Houses of Prayer

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit a men’s or women’s religious community, put it on your bucket list.

Visiting a convent, monastery, or cloister to pray with the nuns or monks is a great way to connect with the prayers of the whole Church—to see what “praying without ceasing” looks like, and to be uplifted by these true prayer experts of the Church. Finding one isn’t as hard as it seems. You’d be surprised what an online map search turns up. When you travel for work, for vacation, or to visit family, a quick search might turn up a convenient opportunity.

Case in point: I recently had the pleasure of visiting the cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, Michigan for Saturday evening vespers. From the outside, the convent barely attracts attention, and though I’d visited family in the area many times before, I’d never noticed the building.

The idea of entering a convent can seem intimidating—but don’t worry! Most communities welcome visitors. The nuns did a lovely job making sung evening prayer accessible to the random visitor. The few sisters on the outside of the cloister even greeted visitors and made sure we had the right books to participate in evening vespers. An especially beautiful part was listening to one of the nuns give a homily of about ten minutes. Since she was behind the cloister, we could not see her—and yet her gentle, reflective style of preaching was deeply moving.

Visiting with a praying community is like spiritual cross-training, helping each of us recognize the weaknesses in our prayer styles, disciplines, and practices, and building up those “prayer muscles” we might not use enough. Regardless of your state in life, getting to know a local convent or maybe visiting a monastery while travelling is a worthwhile endeavor for growing in the life of faith through prayer. Put it on your list. 

Copyright © 2013, Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Reiss Vermeulen, M.Div., M.N.A., blogs, ministers in parish life and lay/deacon formation, and serves as a U.S. Army Reserve officer. She and her husband, Luke, have been married since 2011 and live in Ypsilanti, MI with their two young sons.

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