Friday, January 15, 2010

January 17 - Spiritual Muscle

Wise counselors often instruct applicants to the monastery in daily practices that will help them start toning their spiritual muscles for the day of their entrance.

Just as young men and women do not enter West Point or Annapolis with no more than good intentions toward physical fitness, monastic applicants must go into training while they await the day of their admittance.

Most will be given a copy of the rule of the house, of St. Benedict or St. Claire, for instance, to read and study, and they will be expected to keep one or two regular seasons of prayer at home before they enter, as well as regular, and probably daily, attendance at mass, if possible.

All of this, three times all of this, could not compare with the rigors that await them.

All of this, three times all of this, could not compare with the elation and the satisfaction that the vocational monk or nun experiences when even their small efforts begin to bear fruit in "recollection," the constant realization of the Presence of God.

In the traditional contemplative house, six or seven Offices are chanted daily. Meals, we have noted, are taken in silence and the atmosphere is charged with spiritual exhortation. There will be at least one period allowed for private meditation and one for private reading. Central to all of this will be the Eucharist meal.

Without the aid of rule or superior or enclosure, we might consider the wisdom of taking our own sacred survey of those things we would like to incorporate into our devotional lives. If time and circumstance allowed, within the framework of marriage, children, handicap, or career, what elements would we like to make sure were not overlooked? Thanksgiving? Memorization? Singing? Daily personal confession and memorial of Jesus' atonement?

We might make a long list, as long as we wish. Be extravagant! We might include items that would appear to be impossible to achieve or maintain. If they ring true and important in our hearts, let’s get them into our “wish list.” Over time, if "wishing" doesn’t make it happen, steady "conversatio" will.

After all, we are going to be here awhile.

"Sunrise, Sunset"
photo by Kerri

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