The Gates are Closed

July 3, 2014

"The bishop is on the way. Quick - just a few minutes!" thundered the abbess. All her maidens shivered and rushed about their tasks. It was their jubilee day-50 years of the establishment of their cloistered convent. What an occasion to thank God for all the innumerable blessings received and shared with the needy of the church.

Bishop Josephus was in his full splendor with regal robes, shining miter and the gold gilded crosier. An ideal shepherd for an ideal sheep.

During the Holy mass his grace enumerated the achievements of this convent, how this convent had a growing population with a fast growing vocation, and was able to send the excess nuns to different parts of India and one batch even to Africa to pray for the conversion of souls.

The abbess and her maidens were all in tears - tears of joy. Ceremony over, the bishop and his men had dinner and quietly left the convent. The routine life of the inmates continued - whatever be the occasion the routine should go on. The nuns went to bed and each one had a mental review of the grand day. The head was not able to sleep in peace as she thought of the continuation of this convent for another 50 years.

The modern world is such a corrupt and demoralized one that there are no girls willing to join them - even if they do join, these worldly minded sophisticated girls do not survive there. Most of the inmates are above 70 years of age, except the abbess who is younger by 2 years. 

There was a custom among the nuns in a cloister that they had to dig their own grave and be ready to be buried there when the Lord called them. Years rolled by and the community strength dwindled from 11 to 8 and from 8 to 3. Moreover, the nuns have become advanced in age. Seventies came to eighties and eighties to ninety. The oldest Sr Agatha passed away in her sleep, which was considered a blessing of God - no trouble to anyone and gently going to her Lord and Master. The last two sisters Maria and Martha - look at the coincidence of their names though not related to Lazar, waiting to be raised from death.

The appointed day came - the eldest of the two Sr Martha passed away. As per the custom, old sister Mary buried her by pulling the dead body gently and prayerfully. With her feeble hands Sister Maria was able to cover the body with mud. Exhausted with work and distraught with age the good Sr Maria was not able to move or drag her own person into her room.The sky became overcast. Dark night and darker clouds covered the universe that was her convent for 74 years - she joined the convent at 16. Thunder and lightning presaged the impending danger - incessant rain. Sr Maria was not able to move - laying her head on the grave of Sr Martha, she spread out her hands in an eternal embrace of love to her Master and slept there forever.. The next morning the usual bell did not toll and the outer gate was not opened - THE GATES WERE CLOSED FOR EVER.

Dr A Lourdusamy
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Comment on this article

  • Anthony Dsouza, Madanthyar/Bahrain

    Fri, Jul 04 2014

    A poignant write up that renders seemingly sad yet grand narrative of cloistered nuns!

  • Sudeep, Mangalore/Canada

    Fri, Jul 04 2014

    Wonderful article from my favorite teacher. Lourdswamy and JM Rebello were my favourite teachers in early 80's. Keep on writing sir.

  • Thomas Scaria, Mangalore, Colombo

    Fri, Jul 04 2014

    A beautiful, yet disturbing touching story, which speaks of the end of an era. However, while painfully accepting the facts, we must not forget the facts that new vocations, even from among celebrities do happen these days! Because these Cloistered nuns help the world moving, even without we knowing. Even in the face of wars, if we have peace, someone is paying for it. The Gate will be opened again. Praise the Lord!

  • Santhosh Shetty, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Fri, Jul 04 2014

    Great work Sir, I too am one among the fortunate one's to have a teacher like you. Though it was Mr Sunny Thaarappan who taught our class, we had the pleasure of Mr Lourdswamy taking a couple of classes.

  • Mr. Rodrix, MANGALORE

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    Phenomenal write up. Let's pray to the Master that the gates may be opened.

  • Raj, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    Dr. Lourdsamy was my English Lecturer in my 1st Sem BCA. He was one of the 'coolest' teacher in SAC. Our English text book was mainly focused on Communication skills and grammar, and it was rather boring text book. But he used to make every lesson interesting and funny, and he also used to get maximum attendance. Very delighted to see him write in Daijiworld.

  • R.Bhandarkar, M'lore

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    I read somewhere in this portal itself that now Nuns are being allowed to play cricket or something like that. Must be for the same reason.(Like Sir Geoffrey...Forget it-The Pun I mean...A Pun on the Nun does sound mean...)

  • geoffrey, hat hill

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    The digging of their own graves must be starting the day they join this convent (pun unintended).

  • george dsouza, mangalore, mumbai

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    Dr. Lourdusamy was my English teacher in my 1st and 2nd PUC at SAC in the year 1982-84. I can recall and recollect that unmistakable voice of his when I read this story. Sir free flowing and enchanting fiction! do it more often.

  • Lance D' Costa, Mangalore / Abu Dhabi

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    Although written in a story form, this writeup depicts the life inside a cloistered convent and how the dwindling number of novices who wish to join the convent is affecting the future of this congregation. Well written write more on these issues.

  • Sylvia, Kinnigoli

    Thu, Jul 03 2014

    Well written.Story might be small but the concept is too good. With just few lines you explained so many things, true writers talent. Hope to read some more stories like this

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