November 21 was instituted as a day to pray for all cloistered women and men religious, thanking them for their prayers for us.
While most of us will never see the activity of cloistered nuns or monks in our lifetime, we will experience the effects of their prayers. Men and women religious across the globe are praying for you, though you will likely never meet them in your lifetime.
In thanksgiving for the gift of cloistered religious life, Pope Pius XII instituted Pro Orantibus Day on November 21, 1953. He did so for the spiritual and material support of these hidden monasteries.
Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the importance of this day in a 2006 address.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord, who in his Providence has desired male and female cloistered communities. May they have our spiritual and also our material support, so that they can carry out their mission to keep alive in the Church the ardent expectation of Christ’s Second Coming. For this, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, whom we contemplate on the Memorial of her Presentation in the Temple as Mother and model of the Church, who welcomes in herself both vocations: to virginity and to marriage, to contemplative life and to active life.
November 21 recalls the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, a tradition that Mary was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem and possibly lived there in prayer for much of her early life.
Pope Francis has also frequently recalled this day, mentioning it in his 2018 general audience.
Today, the Feast of the Presentation of the Most Blessed Mary in the Temple, we celebrate Pro Orantibus Day, dedicated to remembering cloistered religious communities: there are many of them! It is a timely occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people in monasteries and hermitages who dedicate themselves completely to God in prayer, silence and hiddenness. May these communities not lack the affection, closeness and support — material also — of the entire Church.
Take some time to give thanks to God for all cloistered communities, praying for them and providing for their material needs when necessary.