Over the next several weeks, I hope to look into the 'whys' and 'hows' of cloistered life. Why is there such a thing as monasticism? What is it for, what does it mean, what draws a person to it? What can monasticism teach those of us who live in the midst of the world?
The monastic life starts not with an idea. It starts with a Person. It is only with Him at the center of our explorations that we can begin....
'Although God dwells in every soul which is in the state of grace, yet the intimacy between the soul and its Divine Guest may be very great or merely ordinary, or even less than that. It is possible for two human beings to dwell under the same roof and not to be intimate; they may live thus and yet be almost strangers to one another.
'But it is possible for this state of things to change; it is possible for them to become friends, even intimate friends....
'A change comes in the soul when it begins to recognize Who it is that dwells in her.
'A new life of affection begins, a new life of real intimate friendship. Intimate friends are characterized by mutual benevolence: each one makes the interest of the other the subject of his thoughts and of his plans. The interest of the other becomes his own interest, and he pursues it with as much zeal as if it were his own personal interest... In such manner should we live in the intimacy of our Divine Guest..
'Some may think that such a life of union with God is only for saints, that a life of intimacy in which the soul constantly turns to God as to a loving and beloved guest, is not for the ordinary faithful. This view is not correct.
'Intimacy with God is not for the saints only. It is for all of us.'
(from "Listening to the Indwelling Presence," compiled by a Religious, Pellegrini, Australia, 1940, pp. 61-64)
Painting: Pilgrims of Emmaus, James Tissot, detail
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