Monday, April 22, 2013


The thing that draws me most about monasticism is its absolute totality.  The person entering such a life gives ALL.   

As I've written before, a potential postulant does not  stick her head inside the enclosure and leave her arms and legs dangling outside.  It just won't work.

Yet how often do I give God "only so much," holding little corners of my life in reserve for myself? 

I might happily obey some of His commandments while ignoring a few that are, well..  inconvenient.  I can easily trust Him to take care of this thing and that thing... but I'm more comfortable managing this other one myself.  After all, I'm not sure what He will do if I put THAT into His hands.

Absolute totality is a process.  It's a process even for those in the physical monastery, for while they've pulled their bodies inside, surely parts of their hearts linger for awhile outside the walls.

Continuing with our review of what it means to live with hearts cloistered for Christ, I'd like to spend a few days revisiting quotes from those who know monastic life from the inside.  These are men and women who know this totality, for they've truly lived it.    

Can I identify with what these people have written?  

Can these goals of monastic life apply, in any way, to me?  

"The Christian life is nothing else but Christ; the monastic life is nothing else but Christ.  The requirements for the Christian and for the monk are in substance the same; the difference lies only in the particular kind of stress that is given to them.  The Church exists so that souls should lead the life of Christ; the monastery exists for the same purpose.  Whether it is union with Him in the world or in the cloister, it is union that is the soul's purpose." (Dom Hubert Van Zeller, the Yoke of Divine Love, Templegate, 1957, p. 182)

"All who have put on Christ have heard the call to seek God.  The monk is one for whom this call has become so urgent that there can be no question of postponing his response to it; he must accept forthwith... in every Christian vocation lies the germ of a monastic vocation. (Louis Bouyer of the Oratory, The Meaning of the Monastic Life, PJ Kenedy and Sons, NY 1950, from preface)

"The monk is the man for whom God is a Person:  a Person whom he can meet, whom he longs to meet...."  (Bouyer, pp. 61-62) 

"One cannot give Christ a limited place in one's life."  (Bouyer,  p. x)

"Monastic life is nothing else, no more and no less, than a Christian life whose Christianity has penetrated every part of it.  (Bouyer, p. 13)

"The monk is precisely the Christian who has recognized in Christ 'the way, the truth, the life' and who intends to act logically over this discovery, a discovery of such a nature that it should not leave any of those who have made it tepid or indifferent."  (Bouyer p. 68)   

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Painting:  Kovács, Stairs at Subiaco, 1844