September 13, 2012
I'd like to take you with me on a little field trip over to The Cloistered Heart, where Nancy Shuman, a friend of The Feminine Gift, is leading her readers through a monastic day, from rising for the day, to meal times, to prayer, and recreation.

While I had some understanding of what life is like behind the convent walls prior to reading this series, I have come to see that while the cosmetics are different, with the right mindset, my life is not that different from that of the good sisters who live behind those walls. We both have obligations of work that needs doing, and we both desire to love and serve God.

It is tempting for me to look at cloistered life and say how easy it is for nuns to be holy because they have no distractions of the world, no intrusions on prayer, and they only have to do what is laid out for them to do. I think those sisters would tell us otherwise: that they, too, have to guard against temptations; that they struggle to be charitable toward Sister Sings-off-key; how hard it is to leave a task sometimes because the bells rang to call them away; and how much they would like to be able to sleep in once in a while.  Even the cloistered nun has to submit her will to another authority, apply discipline to perform her duty of the moment, grow in virtue. In other words, it is not that much easier than life ‘on the outside’.

What I take with me from The Cloistered Heart’s journey through a monastic day, is a desire to apply more discipline to the structure of my day, and to make greater effort to make an offering of everything I do during the day, whether it be mealtime, work, recreation, or study.  

The key to both is prayer.  We are seeing in the daily Gospel readings lately that Jesus frequently went somewhere on His own to pray.  It can be hard for us in our busy and noisy lives to spend the kind of time in prayer that happens behind the cloister walls. Not all of us have a call to silence and solitude; some of us thrive in a more communal, even boisterous life.  All of us, regardless the circumstances of our individual lives, are called by God into deeper communion with Him. We hear and answer His call through prayer. Even active orders of religious men and women build the foundation of their activity on times of quiet prayer.

Still from the film, Into Great Silence

 My prayer for you all – single, married, parent, childless, working, religious – is for increased desire and capacity for daily prayer.  Listen to the monastery bells calling you, and visit The Cloistered Heart with me.


  1. What a surprise to come here today and find this! Thank you so much. Deo Gratias!

  2. Nancy! You are very welcome. The series is beautifully done - inspiring and inviting. I know it will bless many others as it has blessed me.

  3. Truly Nancy...your writing is a breath of fresh air. Thank you!



What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!


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