The Orthodox Nuns of Saint Maria Skobtsova's Monastery always strive to acquire merciful hearts, hearts that are remade into the image of God's own heart. St Issac the Syrian taught, "What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled."
There is a lot of spiritual work being done by each of them on each of their souls. That's hard, at the best of times. Humility is hard won, especially for a community of nuns who are largely medical doctors and other health care providers.
Harder, now, as the nuns are providing end-of-life care for their much beloved diocesan bishop.
Their normal life in their monastery is all too busy, between their seven plus daily hours of communal prayers, their running several medical, and dental, clinics on the grounds of their monastery, training nursing assistants in their school, raising food in their Community Supported Agriculture program, and providing hospitality to all who come to them asking for meals or shelter.
But all the activity in the monastery is a backdrop for the real work of the nuns, the lifelong process of forging ordinary women into saints by transforming their hearts.