Just the thought kind of scares me. At first it seems a little weird. What do they do all day? They pray. But is that really all they do? I didn't really understand it. But then I listened to this program on "The Good Catholic Life" (a local radio talk show) and reflected on the following line from Pope John Paul II (which I first wrote about here)
"Yes, God alone is our true and unfailing support, just as love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world."- Pope John Paul II (1994)
It was then that I realized that the women who spend there days in prayer are not doing it for themselves, they are doing it for the Lord and for us! They are not spending there time praying for themselves but they are praying for the Church (for us). They might not be physically feeding the poor and ministering to the imprisoned or even evangelizing to their neighbors but they are serving the poor, the imprisoned and their neighbors in a much greater way. They are bringing the sufferings and pains of the people and of the Church to the Lord. Although it may not be visible to outsiders they are directly serving the needs of the suffering.
It reminds me of how we often thank our soldiers serving in the military (as we should). We thank them for giving up their life (at least part of it) to serve our country (and us). They are separated from their friends and loved ones as they devote themselves to others. In a similar way a woman entering a cloistered convent is giving up her friends and loved ones to devote herself to prayer. This prayer is a service to us all and it involves a great deal of sacrifice on their part.
We should thank them for their service. We should thank their families for the sacrifice that they make as well. To me it seems like an unbelievable sacrifice and an unbelievable service.