The Monastic Life
The words above from Psalm 141 express well the essence of the Monastic life, for it is prayer - the worship of the Triune God, both corporately and individually - which forms the framework of that life.
Every activity of the Religious is to become an offering to God, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans: "...present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship," and in Colossians 3:17: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
It is a great privilege for a Religious to live out the Christian commitment in a Christocentric setting, and also a grave responsibility. It is a responsibility in that a Religious Community is a group of people brought together by God to live under Rule and vowed to a total commitment to Christ. It is a privilege because the life is lived in an environment that is designed to aid and support the individual Religious in being faithful to the vows.
From the early days, the Religious (Monastic) Life has been distinguished by three characteristics:
The All Saints Sisters of the Poor were founded at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London, England, in 1851. Their early life, centered always in corporate and private prayer and nourished by our Lord's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, was one of service to the poor.
In 1872, at the request of the Reverend Joseph Richey, Rector of Mount Calvary Parish, three Sisters came to Baltimore, Maryland, in order to carry on the same sort of ministry. The Sisters were involved especialy in work with children.
In the early 1900's, the Sisters assisted a committee of ladies in the operation of a Country Home for Children. The property, in the area known then as Orange Grove, and known now as Catonsville, was later given to the Sisters. They moved there with some of the children in 1917.
For many years the work with children continued to be the principal thrust of the apostolate of the All Saints Sisters. In more recent times, government agencies have increasingly taken over works of the type previously done by the Sisters.
As needs have changed, so have ministries; but the center of the Sisters' life: prayer and Sacrament, has continued unchanged.
The Sisters endeavor to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as to the direction their life and work will take in future years.
The spirituality of the Community is based on a Rule written by the Rev'd Upton Richards. He and the Rev'd Mother Harriet Brownlow Byron founded the Society in 1851 to do parish work at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London. The Rule is derived from that of St. Augustine, and is based on those of various French communities that the Mother Foundress had visited.
The traditional vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience - form a three-fold cord by which a Religious is bound to God in the context of Community. It is a binding of Love through which we are set free.
Through the vow of Poverty, we give up the opportunity for worldly success, position, and personal possessions in order to put our trust in God alone, to share in the freedom of Christ by sharing in the poverty of Christ. This freedom is expressed in the Community's motto: "As having nothing, yet possessing all things," which is taken from II Corinthians 6:10.
Chastity is proper for all Christians. For the Religious there is also a commitment to the celibate (unmarried) state. This vow opens us to respond to the love of God in a single-hearted way -- always loving Him first and all others in Him. It allows us to love others in a non-possessive way; to love all whose paths cross ours; to love those whom we have never met but whose needs and concerns become our own in intercessory prayer.
The vow of Obedience to God through our Rule and through our Superiors frees us to live as directed by the Holy Spirit, through the surrender of our wills, without concern for personal success. It frees us from the compulsion to get ahead, and allows us to live more fully in each present moment.
Our Life in Community
The members of our Community have committed themselves to a life lived for their Lord, and in unity with one another. Within this unity, and made possible by it, there is great diversity of both personality and talents. In our offering of ourselves, our skills and personalities are enhanced, and we work for the common good of the Church and the world. The life of the Sisters is centered upon the Daily Eucharist, and the recitation of the Daily Office (six-fold) as the Work of God. We also spend at least one and a half hours in private prayer daily, along with study and other reading. This Life of Prayer enables the Sisters to engage in ministries such as Retreat Work and Spiritual Direction.
The Mixed Life
As All Saints Sisters we live what is known as the Mixed Life: a life in which prayer and work are both important. Our life together is built on a structure of corporate and private prayer - centered in Eucharistic worship and nourished daily by the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. This enables us to pour forth Christ's love to others in the ministry of hospitality, in missions of various types, in offering Quiet Days and Retreats at one of the Community's Houses or elsewhere, in spiritual direction, and in all of our contacts.
The ministry of hospitality is a traditional part of the monastic life. We are involved in this ministry at each of our houses. Kindly go to Ministries to learn more about our many ministries.