MUMBAI, India — Discalced Carmelite nuns in western India celebrated on Thursday the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, marking the 33rd anniversary of the founding of their monastery called Prem Jyot (“Light of Love”), and used the occasion to pray for the conversion of ISIS and the healing of a “broken world.”
Located in the Gujarat region of India, the monastery was opened on September 15, 1983 by Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, then the apostolic nuncio to the country, who would go on to become the papal envoy to the United States. Also on hand was Bishop Salvador Ignatius D’Souza of Baroda, and Mother Elisabeth, prioress of a Carmelite monastery in Mumbai.
Sister Marie Gemma, Prioress of Prem Jyot told Crux, that in the monastery, the sisters “live our contemplative life, and even non-Christians are welcome and find God.’’
The cloistered Carmelites of Prem Jyot observed a 24-hour continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, commencing at 5 a.m. on the 15th and ending at 5 a.m. the next day, with other people joining them during the daytime.
“We are in prayerful solidarity with our very own Discalced Carmelites in Argentina, where their monastery was raided by the police in late August,” Sister Gemma said.
“May God give them peace and joy in the midst of their trials,” she said.
For the Carmelites, it was also a day of fasting, in which they prayed for the conversion of ISIS. The sisters said they wanted to pray for a broken world and the intentions of the pope, and to make reparations and to ask pardon and forgiveness for the sins of humankind.
The convent was founded at the suggestion of D’Souza, the first bishop of the Diocese of Baroda, who asked the nuns to create a monastery to “serve the Church and its people through a life dedicated to prayer.”
At first there were only eight Carmelite sisters, and the structure was built by a Spanish Jesuit to capture sunlight (hence the name).
Even non-Christians pray in the chapel, “bathed in the light of the love of Christ.”
“In this way,” said Sister Gemma, “the monastery is a place of light, where everyone can meet the love of Christ.
The Carmelites have good ties with non-Christians of the place, who attend the monastery and ask the sisters to intercede for them through prayer.
“They stop in our chapel, immersed in the beauty and silence of contemplation,” Sister Gemma said. “Local doctors, who are not Christians, also offer free medical care to all the sisters.”
On Sept. 12, the whole community gathered to celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, and repeated the name of Our Lady 1,000 times.
“This kind of worship originated with the French Carmelite sisters, and is repeated every year,” Sister Gemma said. “We Carmelites pray for the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for his intentions, and for the Church in India and Asia. The Sisters also pray individually and for the needs of the local people.”
The nun says the ritual of repeating the name of Mary up to 1000 times “brings immense joy and brings us closer to Mary, [because] Mary is Mother, Sister, and Queen.”
The same veneration was also implemented during the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila. According to the mother superior, the ritual at that time had an even more intense meaning, because in the writings of the saint there is a great devotion to the Mother of Christ.