Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31 – Convent Life

What keeps a new postulant “at home” in the convent?

Certainly, it must differ from one to another, and all agree that what they came for was not what kept them, in the long run.

What is it, though, that keeps the new arrival from packing bags and saying “this is not for me” at the end of the first month . . . the first two weeks . . . when the reality of a lifetime of isolation and regime begins to saturate the soul?

Personal friendships in traditional houses of monasticism are not encouraged. The postulant is come to learn friendship with God, and in the house, all are encouraged to be mutually warm-hearted but non-exclusive. (That in itself, rightly understood, could be a monastic draw.)

When the nearness of God has been sought and promoted for several decades, if not centuries, when the Name and the glory of God have been worshiped numerous times each day during that time, His Presence may have seeped into the life of the House. Certainly, that is the hope of the inhabitants.

Not without bona fide rejoicing, and no bona fide rejoicing without obedience, but when the elements are in place, the nearness of God might make it very difficult to leave, especially when attraction of His Presence was that which brought the newcomer in the first place.

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