Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6 – The Right Fit

A great deal of tailoring is accomplished before the newcomer enters the monastery and exchanges her street clothes for the postulant’s habit.

Abbeys and convents have been known to send prospects away, not because they were not fit for monastic life, but because the order would not have been a good fit for them.

Literature on the subject makes it clear that it is not always the quiet, reflective young man or woman who will become the best contemplative, nor does the hearty, generous, social activist always become the best Franciscan. The first consideration of the counselors would seem to be: how does this applicant best relate to God?

As with the Abbey itself, there is vast divergence within the bounds of purpose. How should the Abbey present itself? Some monasteries bring in all the beauty of stone and glass and metal and wood that can be obtained. Some nuns walk under carved mahogany arches and up marbled stairs and over mosaic floors and into sanctuaries overlaid with silver and gold.

Some abbeys have design and details that would fill architectural journals, if only the feature writers could get in to see them! As we have observed, other Sisters have taken up residence in abandoned Army barracks and old farmhouses, with scarcely room to turn around and a gaping skull as table decoration.

Churches have split over these issues. Some want to build enormous and ornate facilities, and others feel apprehensive when the lobby gets new carpet. The monastery must not splinter, and the counselors must be very careful. Very careful . . . and completely unafraid. God alone can reveal how confidently and happily the former debutante will adjust to the rigors of silence and the practicalities of penitential living, or how perfectly the shy and retiring young man will yet blossom into a missionary friar.

In Cor Unum, we too are careful, and unafraid. We are incorporating worship and prayer, along with “conversatio” designed to keep us faithful and bright before God and others. Work has begun on the structure; we have made a few foundational changes, taken out some sub-standard tendencies and shored up our devotion.

As the work goes on, our prayer is that the Lord Himself will become our ornamentation, and if He will, we are content to be splendid in beauty.

"Blessed Sacrament"
photo by Kerry

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