What is Life Like as a Sister?

The daily life of a sister varies depending upon her order. There are three types of orders: active, active-contemplative, and contemplative. The type of order plays a large part in determining sisters’ schedules. While all orders place a large emphasis on prayer as the source of all good works, some orders place more emphasis on this interior life of prayer.

Active Orders:
Active orders are orders that spend the majority of their day in an apostolate, or ministry. This type of order begins and ends their day with prayer, but often spend the middle of their day in their ministry. Prayer is not less important to these orders, but rather, their ministry is often seen as an extension of their morning and evening prayers.

Active-contemplative Orders:
Active-contemplative orders are orders that are active in ministries but place a large emphasis on prayer as their first ministry. Such orders will have community prayer interspersed throughout the time that they spend in ministry and will sometimes return to the convent for lunch and community prayer in the middle of the day before going back out to their apostolates. Some of these orders have days during which they pray and fast rather than doing active ministry. These orders emphasize that prayer is the source of all their good works from which their ministry flows.

Contemplative Orders:
Contemplative orders are orders devoted entirely to prayer and fasting. These orders will often have in house works such as making altar bread and other liturgical items and such in house works are an extension of their prayer and contemplation. The sisters in these orders may or may not be cloistered, meaning that they do not live the convent or monastery. Contemplative orders are a vital part of the Church as the prayers of these sisters helps not only to sustain the Church, but the whole world.

Example Horarium (daily schedule)
from a contemplative order, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia

5:00am Rising
5:30am Meditation
6:00am Lauds
6:15am Mass
7:00am Breakfast
7:30am Apostolate
5:00pm Vespers and Rosary
5:30pm Dinner
6:30pm Community Recreation
7:30pm Spiritual Reading
7:45pm Night Prayers, Compline, Salve Procession
8:00pm Silence
10:00pm Profound Silence