Thursday, February 2, 2012
February 2 – In Solitude, But Never Alone
To make our monastic lives “work,” we must realize and reconcile the opposing monastic concepts of community and solitude, silence and celebration.
The nun’s cell is sacrosanct. Nuns don’t “hang out” in one another’s rooms, like college girls in a dorm. In her cell, she dwells alone with Jesus Christ. His crucifix is usually the only ornamentation. (Traditional Carmelite orders also gave each postulant a skull for her desktop . . . a far cry from a bud vase or a bowl of potpourri . . .) We shall talk about that idiosyncrasy tomorrow, and you won’t be surprised at the reasoning behind it.
In the more traditional orders, monastics spend many hours alone each day, in study, private prayer, and meditation. They spend as many as seven hours in vibrant worship and exaltation, singing full-throated and full-hearted praise, filling their sanctuaries to the rafters with hymns of joy and commemoration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Each of us in Cor Unum must find our own cell. It’s in the house, somewhere! A chair . . . a little desk . . . the bathtub, if necessary! One Sister actually used to upend a Samsonite suitcase in her closet, go in and close the door and “pray through” her difficulties until she knew the Lord’s direction and her faith was firm. It has been said that the Christian life would be easy to live . . . if it weren’t for PEOPLE!
The people aren’t going away, and we know that they are just the right implements for perfecting our love and faith, but we must escape to the mountains to be alone with God. There, we must learn to make our time with Him “count.” For today, find your cell; name it and claim it and anoint it with prayer. Stay awhile with the Lord; He will be waiting for you there in the morning. Oh, my dear Sister . . . my Brothers! . . . find your cell, and make it your heaven!
Catherine of Sienna, Writing