Friday, January 31, 2014

No Exterior Hindrance

What a find.  In only three minutes, we can see "The Cloistered Heart" in living, moving color.. and right where we live it.

If you only look at one thing to find out what is meant by a "cloistered heart," I suggest that this video be that one thing. 

We do not (usually) sing outwardly as we go through the world.

But what is happening in our hearts?

"No exterior thing hinders my union with God."  (St. Faustina)

"How happy you will be if in the midst of the world you keep Jesus Christ in your heart!"  (St. Francis de Sales) 

"Always remember… to retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others.  This mental solitude cannot be violated by the many people who surround you since they are not standing around your heart but only around your body.  Your heart remains alone in the presence of God.” (St. Francis de Sales)  

"May nothing distract me from You, neither noise nor diversions. O my Master, I would so love to live with You in silence. But what I love above all is to do Your will, and since You want me still to remain in the world, I submit with all my heart for love of You." (Elizabeth of the Trinity) 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Cell

"Work for souls is accomplished, for the most part, in silence.  Its efficiency does not depend upon occupation, position or popularity.  From a humble cell, hidden away in some cloistered nunnery, there radiates spiritual power which influences thousands of souls scattered over the entire world." (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., Philadelphia, 1952, p. 56)

St. Catherine of Siena, who did not live in a monastery, “formed a cell in her own heart and there she remained continually united with God even when busiest, contemplating Him and speaking familiarly with Him.  Thus she attained to a stable, uninterrupted union with her Lord.” (Spiritual Diary, Daughters of St. Paul, 1990).

"Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private…” (Matthew 6:6) 

"Brother Body is our cell, and our soul is the hermit living indoors in the cell, in order to pray to God and meditate on him.” (St. Francis of Assisi) 

"I offer You the cell of my heart; may it be Your little Bethany. Come rest there…”  (Elizabeth of the Trinity)

"Our Lord frequently told me that I should keep a secluded place for Him in my heart, where He would teach me to love Him."  (St. Margaret Mary)

"I set up a little cell in my heart, where I always kept company with Jesus."  (St. Faustina)

"Within yourself you have made a room... a secluded place.  You have built it by prayer…. You live in the marketplace and carry the poustinia within you.  That is your vocation… The Lord is calling us to stand still before him while walking with men.” (Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Poustinia, Ave Maria Press, 1975)

"May the God who is all love be your unchanging dwelling place, your cell, and your cloister in the midst of the world.” (Elizabeth of the Trinity)

"Christ is held by the mind knowing Him and the heart loving Him...  what is this room except the inner secret of your own person?  Keep this inner room clean, so that when it is pure, unstained by sin, your spiritual home may stand as a priestly temple with the Holy Spirit dwelling in it.  One who seeks and entreats Christ is never abandoned, but visited by Him frequently, for He stays always with us."  (St. Ambrose)

Painting of nun:  Luigi Busi, In Contemplazione

Painting of woman in bedroom:  Moritz von Schwind, Early Morning

Painting of city street:  Arntzenius Spuistraat 

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Devout Life in the World

'Almost all those who have written hitherto about devotion have been concerned with instructing persons wholly withdrawn from the world, or have at least taught a kind of devotion that leads to such complete retirement.

'My purpose is to instruct those who live in town, within families, or at court, and by their state of life are obliged to live an ordinary life as to outward appearances.'

'A strong, resolute soul can live in the world without being affected by any of its moods, find springs of piety amid its salty waves, and fly through the flames of earthly lusts without burning the wings of its holy desires for a devout life.  True, this is a difficult task, and therefore I wish that many souls would strive to accomplish it with greater ardor than has hitherto been shown.'

St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Image Books, 1989

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nor Was My Frame Unknown

'Truly You have formed
my inmost being;
You knit me
in my mother's womb.
I give You thanks
that I am fearfully,
wonderfully made;
wonderful are Your works.
My soul also
You knew full well;
nor was my frame
unknown to You
when I was made
in secret.'

Psalm 139:13-15

Painting:  Alessandro Botticelli 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Personal Relationship with Christ?

When we are talking about monastic life, the importance of Our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be overstated.  With this in mind, I've been planning a post (using quotes from various saints) on the fact that we can know and love Jesus personally. 

"The monk is the man for whom God is a Person," writes Louis Bouyer; "a Person whom he can meet, whom he longs to meet...."  (The Meaning of the Monastic Life, PJ Kenedy, 1950)

I love it when the Holy Spirit inspires more than one individual, at the same time, to do the very same thing.  He was at work in the same way, at the same time, in the heart of Renee Lin.  

As she put it so well in one of her comments, it was just a matter of calling the right witnesses. Which she has done, indeed.

Can Catholics have a personal relationship with Christ?  

I invite you to click over to Renee's blog Forget the Roads, to see what the witnesses have to say.

Painting:  San Luigi Gonzaga, Love for the Word

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Centre of Our Hearts

"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone?  He burns with the desire to come into your heart."  (St. Therese of Lisieux)

"The Tabernacle is a reminder of Christ's life in us and of our surrender to Him.  We, too, are the Living Tabernacle of Jesus, a reminder, also, that our life is not governed by appearances and impressions, but by faith in the invisible Reality.  He is there as the ever-flowing Source of Grace, as our Invisible Director and Helper.  Being the living Centre of our life, He must become the Centre of our hearts and minds, the Centre to Which we are directed and from which we judge all our problems, as well as the world's."  (The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pelligrini, Australia, 1941, p. 19)

What is the hub of a monastic building?  The chapel.  The Tabernacle.  The Blessed Sacrament.

Why?  Because Jesus is the absolute Center of monastic life.

It is simple.  And knowing this simple truth, we begin to understand monasticism.  

Pondering it in prayer, we begin to understand monasticism of the heart.

'You know, my loving Jesus, I do want my soul to be spotlessly pure and undefiled, so that it will be for You a most beautiful Home, a Home from which no one will ever dislodge You - Your own living tabernacle, where You will ever dwell, and where I shall live consciously and lovingly with You, and always have a word with You before I speak, act, or make a decision.  I want You to be so happy, so much at home in my soul, that You will take complete possession of it and live Your life in me.'(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, 1936, p.143)

'To be with God it is not necessary to be always in church.  We may make a chapel of our heart, whereto to escape from time to time to talk with Him quietly, humbly and lovingly.... Begin then; perhaps He is waiting for a single generous resolution.'  (Brother Lawrence)

Painting of woman:  Tarbell, The Bleu Veil, in US public domain due to age

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Amid Storms and Rainbows

I gave given myself to God as much as I could; in effect, I've signed over to Him all that concerns me.

How beautiful is His welcome, His acceptance, His love!  But what happens (I can't help but ask it) when trials come along?

I choose in advance, by a sheer act of my will, to place my trust in Jesus.  I might be swallowing a lump as I do so, but today I make my choice.

I choose to make my own this prayer of St. Faustina...

"I know that I am under Your special gaze, O Lord.  I do not examine with fear Your plans regarding me; my task is to accept everything from Your hand.  I do not fear anything, although the storm is raging, and frightful bolts strike all around me, and I then feel quite alone.  Yet my heart senses You, and my trust grows, and I see all Your omnipotence which upholds me.  With You, Jesus, I go through life, amid storms and rainbows, with a cry of joy, singing the song of Your mercy.  I will not stop singing my song of love until the choir of angels picks it up."

Painting:  Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Gotische Kirche auf einem Felsen am Meer, 1815, detail

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Framework of Gifts

"All things in this world
are created 
out of God's love, 
and they become 
a framework of gifts, 
offered to us 
so that we can know God 
more easily 
and make a return 
of love 
more readily." 

St. Ignatius Loyola

Painting:  Jules Cyrille Cave, The Flower Girl, 1897


The Welcome Continues......

His welcome continues.

I have given my heart to my Lord, Jesus Christ.  I've made the decision to step into His will, to seek Him, to live for Him as fully as I can. But I am not the only one in action here.

His welcome continues... 

"Ah, you are beautiful, My beloved.  Ah, you are beautiful!  Your eyes are doves...."  (Song of Songs 1:15)

"As a lily among thorns, is My beloved among women.  (Song of Songs

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name; you are Mine."  (Isaiah 43:1)

Paintings are all in US public domain 
due to age and copyright expiration

I am Welcomed!

I step over the threshold into God's will and the welcome is immediate.  Perhaps all of heaven bursts forth in celebration.  Whether or not I feel any different, the truth is that I am met with great love.  

"Suddenly, when I had consented to the sacrifice with all my heart and all my will, God’s presence pervaded me… I felt that His Majesty was enveloping me…. I saw that God was well pleased with me and, reciprocally, my spirit drowned itself in Him... And the Lord said to me, ‘You are the delight of My Heart; from today on, every one of your acts, even the very smallest, will be a delight to My eyes...'  My earthly body was the same, but my soul was different; God was now living in it with the totality of His delight.  This is not a feeling, but a conscious reality that nothing can obscure.”  (St. Faustina, Diary)

God will not be outdone in generosity.  If I've taken even one step toward Him (no matter how timid the step, no matter how faltering), I can be sure that He is reaching out to receive me.  I am enfolded, encompassed, and totally embraced by Love. 

"I know well the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for your welfare, not for woe!  Plans to give you a future full of hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Deciding Step

As has surely become obvious over these last few days, I sometimes imagine myself before a cloister door.  

I have pictured this for years, actually, for the mental image of it helps me see the life to which I am called.  In the analogy of the cloistered heart, the will of God is my enclosure... a reality before which (when faced with its possible implications) I am tempted to draw back, waver, second-guess.

I have no reservations when God's will and mine are precisely the same.  But at some point(s), my will and God's are going to conflict.  I know this; in my heart I know this.  What happens then? 

“Live in My will,” God tells me.  “Live in My will when you understand it and when you do not.  Trust ME."  In the face of such an invitation, I have a choice to make.

I like to remember that a person entering physically cloistered life does not stick her head in today and leave her arms and legs dangling outside.  She is either in or she’s not.  And yet I can give myself mostly to God and leave parts of my life dangling outside that surrender.  

Making the decision to embrace the will of God is not a once-for-all-time-thing, of course.  I re-decide, circumstance by circumstance.  But there is something about at least making my choice of God's will specific.  One deciding step.  I have found that grace comes with making this decision.  I tell God I want to live according to His will… and then in circumstance after circumstance, I find that His grace abounds.

So yes, I imagine myself standing before an enclosure door.  I consider.  I vacillate.  I want a print-out of all that will be asked of me before I give my “yes.”  I’m trembling, halting, looking back, shuffling, straining.  Then, timidly, I stick one toe forward…

…and it’s as if He suddenly, tenderly, picks me up and carries the rest of me inside.  Even those dangling arms and legs.

"Take, Lord, all my liberty.  Receive my memory, my understanding, my entire will.  
Whatever I have and possess, you have given me; to You I restore it wholly,
and to Your will I utterly surrender it for my direction. 
Give me the love of You only, with Your grace,
and I am rich enough; nor do I ask anything besides."  (St.Ignatius Loyola)

"I am the Gate. Whoever enters through Me WILL BE SAFE.” (Jesus, quoted in John 10:9)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Farewell to the Follies

I knock at the door.  My hand trembles.  I am afraid no one will answer.

I am afraid someone will.

The walk toward the monastery was longer than I'd expected.  I would love to be welcomed with a cup of tea and a gold-edged plate of chocolates.  I feel entitled to a bit of pampering, a little reward for making it this far.  But here, it will not be that way.  

An extern Sister opens the door and ushers me into the foyer.  It is a small room, its floorboards gleaming with a warm patina.  I feel embraced by the hush of it.  Just ahead of me is another door, a tall, unadorned one made of brown wood.  I know that this is the door to the enclosure.

Sister points toward it and asks me, "are you ready?" 

"It may turn out that this change in your way of life will cause you many problems.  You have bid a great, general farewell to the world's follies and vanities, and this may bring on a feeling of sadness and discouragement.  If this should be the case, have a little patience, I beg of you, for it will come to nothing.  Things will seem a little strange because they are new, but when such feelings pass you will receive countless blessings."  (St. Francis de Sales)

"Ah, my Lord!  Your help is necessary here; without it, one can do nothing.  In Your mercy do not consent this soul to suffer deception and give up what it has begun."  (St. Teresa of Avila)

Sister smiles at me.  Her face shows no urgency.   She is simply asking.  "Are you ready?"

I do not know. 


You are invited to leave comments in The Parlor

Painting:  Alfred Stevens, Hesitation, detail

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Determined Turnabout

Yesterday's mental ramble was, of course, an imaginative exercise.  Having never entered religious life, I haven't experienced a potential nun's journey toward a cloistered world.

But oh, I have daydreamed it.  Not in the sense of dreaming with desire, and not exactly daydreaming with dread, but with a sense of wondering.  How would it feel, I've asked myself, to make a serious, determined decision to leave the world and enter a life where I live totally for Christ.  Not just partly, not mostly, but totally.  Fully embracing His will with no compromise, no watering down what He asks of me; "yes" with no ifs, no ands, no buts.  Entering the world of His will, and turning my back on all that tries to lure me away from Him.

"Most people cannot leave the world in a bodily sense, but every follower of Christ who is serious about genuine growth must leave the spirit of the world."  (Thomas Dubay SM, Fire Within, Ignatius Press, 1989, p. 81)

Am I serious about genuine growth?  I ask it of myself.  Immediately, I know my answer.  The desire to move beyond ho-hum Christianity is what inspires my life as a cloistered heart.

The desire to "move beyond" drives me onward, yet a large part of me wants to dig in my heels and stay right where I am.  I'm not so bad, I tell myself.  I pray and receive the Sacraments and try to be nice.

Thankfully, there is more to a Godly life than that.

"One cannot give Christ a limited place in one's life," writes Louis Bouyer of the Oratory (The Meaning of the Monastic Life, PJ Kenedy and Sons, NY, 1950,  p. x)   And that is the crux of it, for me.  I am not content to be a "just in case" Christian.  I don't want to simply follow the rules and try to avoid mortal sin just in case God is real (by His grace, I'm convinced that He is).   I'm not satisfied to throw some prayers in His direction now and then and call that a life of faith.

The truth is:  I'm engaged in much more than an imaginary exercise.

I AM serious about genuine growth.  I AM on a real, vital, narrow path to union with God. "The main business of the beginner, therefore, is to make a determined turnabout from preoccupation with this worldly world to a life centered in the Trinity."  (Dubay, p. 82)

The world beckons.  I live in it, and I can be joyful as I do so, for this is where God calls me to serve Him.  But preoccupation with the world?  It is from this that I must turn.

I don't turn, however, for the mere sake of turning.  I do not leave the "worldly world" and march forward in pursuit of nothing.  I go along that narrow path - "to a life centered in the Trinity."

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit wait for me.


Painting:  Pietro Fragiacomo, Tristezza 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Toward the Cloister Door

For years I have imagined the scene.  I see myself right in it, firmly planted, almost as if frozen in time.

Here I am, ready to place my foot on a path leading to the monastery.  It's a winding path, quite narrow, and I don't step onto it right away.  I stop.  I consider.  I pause.  The way is open before me, nothing blocks it.  Once I reach the heavy, ancient door, I won't even have to open it.  All I'll have to do is knock.  

I hesitate.  I stand.  I am alone, looking at the silent gray building just up the hill.  A chill wind stings my face.  

I took one last look at myself before catching the bus here:  one last glance, for I know there are no mirrors in cloisters.  My face looked good (may the saints forgive me), although a bit pinched.  I dabbed concealer over this morning's undereye circles.  My dress is midi-length, modest.  Over it is a long wool coat, its collar turned up.  Just the right touch of sophistication, a concession to my almost-former self.  

I had been told what to bring, a few garments I'll need as a postulant.  Now I stand, ready to set foot onto this narrow, unpaved pathway.   Inside, the Sisters await me.  Outside, here I stand.  

The stiletto shoes, my highest ever, may not have been a good idea.  I liked their steady click click across pavement, the very sound boosting my confidence.  But here (I realize), there will be no sound.  The ground is damp and soggy on the grassless path ahead. 

I step onto the pinstripe of mud.  Immediately, a pencil thin heel stabs into the ground.  I take another step, and shoe number two meets the same fate.  I am suddenly anchored in a place of perpetual indecision.  Forever on the path, ready to make the journey but unable to let go of all that holds me to the earth. 

"St. Teresa's starting point," writes Father Thomas Dubay about Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle,  "is the absolutely basic condition for a serious prayer life: an earnest, continuing effort to rid oneself of sins, imperfections and attachments."  (Fire Within, Ignatius, 1989, p. 81)

These shoes were, in my opinion, gorgeous. I paid way too much for them, but oh, they have served me well.  They've carried me into business meetings, boosting my height and self-confidence.  They have taken me dancing, showing off my balance and unexpected grace.  They have served ME well.

I am attached to the shoes; of course I am.  They're a symbol of what I've achieved in the world.  They represent (suddenly) all I'll be giving up if I step onto this narrow, sloppy path.  I stand for just a moment, listening to a train rumbling in the distance.  I could go back now and there would be no shame in the turning.

I step out of first one shoe, then the other.  I lean down and pluck them from the ground.

I make my way, barefoot, toward the cloister door.    


You are invited to leave comments in The Parlor 

Painting:  Johnson Coombe Abbey

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Life Inside

"The monastery is the house of God... the monk is a witness to God... an athlete, a slave in the service of his divine Master, a soldier fighting for the heavenly King, a pilgrim journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem" (Daniel Rees, Consider Your Call, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, 1980, p. 100)

Taking another look at what it means to be a cloistered heart, I begin with the monastery.  I always imagine a building tucked away in the woods, perhaps on a hill, just glimpsed (by me) through a little stand of trees....

The life inside is one of prayer and living within the will of God.  People who enter there - and who remain - are dead serious.  They aren't playing games.  They are not settling for halfway commitments and compromised yeses.  They don't dabble in prayer now and then, when they need something or when they feel a touch of consolation, shooting up a Hail Mary between their favorite TV shows and a trip to the mall. They pray throughout the day and in the night.  They eat, sleep, dress, work, play, sing, read, serve, breathe for Christ.

But wait.  What, if anything, does this have to do with me?  My call is to live in the midst of the world.

If I'm serious about living for God, I think this has a lot to do with me.  I believe monastic totality has a great deal to teach all of us as we serve Our Lord in our families, homes, parishes, neighborhoods, workplaces - day after day.  

And so, again with the help of writers who have known monastic life from the inside, we begin to take another look....

"It is true that only a few of Christ's followers are called to be monks and nuns, but their way of life is no more and no less than an attempt to live out their Christianity in all its implications.  All Christians are called to holiness.... There are many ways of following this call, but, insofar as we all hear and try to respond to it, we shall find that we have a good deal of experience in common."  (Rees, p. xi)

"Every Christian must seek to follow Christ in obedience to the will of the Father, must pray, exercise faith and hope and love, make use of the sacraments, and live in the Spirit.  Neither in the end nor in these primary means is the monk essentially different from any other Christian.... " (Rees, p. 4)

"'When you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.'  These words of Our Lord mean that you must enter yourself and make a sanctuary there; the secret place is the human this level, where man knows how to be silent, there prayer is found.  Here he is mysteriously visited."  (Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Poustinia, Ave Maria Press, 1975, p. 74)

"I am a temple of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They come to me.  The Lord said that He and His Father would come and make their dwelling with me....  Why should my heart be removed from God
when I am talking with you?  When you are in love with someone, it seems that the face of the Beloved is before you when you drive, when you type, when you are taking out insurance, and so on.  Somehow or other we can encompass these two realities, the face of the Beloved and whatever we happen to be doing.  My friends, prayer is like that."  (Doherty p. 75)

My friends, prayer is like that.

I pray that we will each be "mysteriously visited" by our Lord, Jesus Christ. 


 You are invited to leave comments in The Parlor

Monday, January 6, 2014

Surprise Surprise!

What perfect timing.

Just before we begin to seriously embark on "another look," I learn that we've been honored with a lovely new year surprise!  The Cloistered Heart is nominated for a Sunshine Award!  Thank you, Melanie at Joy of Nine9, for a dash of fun and sun on this blustery winter's day.

Here are the "rules" for acceptance of this award:

1.  Use the award logo in the post.
2.  Link to whoever nominated you.
3.  Write 10 pieces of information about yourself.
4.  Nominate fellow bloggers who meet the indicated criteria.
5.  Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.

Number 1:  check.  Number 2: check.

Number 3.  Pieces of information about myself.  (I loved reading Melanie's!).   Hmmm.  Think I'll just throw a potpourri of things out there, in whatever order they flitter across my mind.... wheeee!

1.  God is important to me!  (you're not shocked).

2.  My family is important to me! (you're not shocked and you're getting bored)

3.  Books are important to me (now yawning, you're wondering if this blogger passed fourth grade).  Not only do I love to read, I love to live surrounded by books.  They are my wallpaper of choice.  Two walls of my living room and two walls of my family room are literally lined with them. 

4.  I love humor.  My own spontaneous silliness surprises even me at times.  I once told a friend that in this sadly off-track world, we need comic relief.  She said "Nancy, you ARE comic relief."  I took that as a lovely compliment.  I like Shoe comics and Erma Bombeck quotes and old videos from the Carol Burnett show ("Went with the Wind!")

5.  I am a very chattery (okay, okay: too chattery) INtrovert.  

6.  I am older than you think.  My goodness.... you think I'm THAT old?!!  O my.  Now add ten years.

7.  I'm crazy about my grandchildren (ages 7, 5 and 3...wanna see my 7,243 pictures?).  Love to play board games with them, do crafts, tell stories, blow bubbles, laugh...)

8.  When my husband and I were dating, we often stopped to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament at our University's student center chapel (his idea) before he walked me home.  This added to his love of fun and his keen intellect made me fall head over heels. And he went in the reverse direction the night he met me, when he tried to impress me by literally standing on his head.  I chose not to hold that against him.  He was only nineteen; he had an excuse. 

9.  I find action movies boring.  My mind wanders during battle scenes. 

10. I like cool weather, nature, mountains, the ocean, chicken with mushrooms, ticking clocks, Call the Midwife, poetry, and I hate beer. 

Nominated bloggers.  I generally don't link to non-cloistered sites on this particular blog, but will make an exception this time.

However, in keeping with the prayer focus of The Cloistered Heart, I am only naming blogs that almost always stick to posts about prayer and growing in holiness.  So, here are a few that fit into the category of "spirituality blogs."

I wonder if a group blog can accept this award?  Just in case it can, I nominate:

Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network

I also nominate the following prayerful blogs: 

 I Want to See God

Bell of the Wanderer

Reflections on the Sacred

Imprisoned in My Bones

Thoughts on Grace

A Life Dedicated to Prayer
The Mad-Eyed Monk

Carmel Light

Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  This has been a fun change of pace! 

Tomorrow (God willing) - a further look at another look......

You are invited to leave comments in The Parlor

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another Look

The Cloistered Heart is a way of seeing, a way of being, a way of living totally for God in the midst of the world.  

"The heart,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “is the dwelling place where I am, where I live... the heart is the place 'to which I withdraw.'  The heart is our hidden center,  beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. (Catechism  #2563)

With this in mind, let's have a quick review. 

The Monastery of a Cloistered Heart is the person’s own life.  A monastery is a place consecrated to God, a place of prayer, a place where God is loved and lived for and served.  Our lives can, and should, become every one of these.

The Enclosure of a Cloistered Heart is within the will of God.  As a cloistered nun or monk lives within a specific area known as the cloister, we can make a specific choice to live within the will of God.  We can actively embrace the boundaries of God’s will as these are revealed in Scripture and Church teaching.

The Grille of a Cloistered Heart is the will of God.  As some monasteries have grillwork through which those in the cloister interact with the world outside, we can have spiritual “grillwork.”  We can practice seeing and responding to every person and every situation through God's will as revealed to us in Scripture and the teachings of the Church.  

“Always remember," wrote St. Francis de Sales, "to retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others.  This mental solitude cannot be violated by the many people who surround you since they are not standing around your heart but only around your body.  Your heart remains alone in the presence of God.” 

The Cloistered Heart (we've said it before) is a multi-faceted analogy.  

Perhaps it's time to have another look.


Painting:  Piero di Cosimo, Maddalena 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Life Apart

                   'Cloister thy mind, thy senses and thy heart,
                   and keep within a silent sanctuary,
                   where thou with Me may live a life apart,
                   a life of love in sweetest intimacy. 

                   Speak with Me often through the busy day,
                   Thy joys and sorrows, all, to Me confide.
                   And hearken, child; My every wish obey
                   'til thus thou shalt with Me in Love abide.  

                   Why sigh then for the vision that is past.
                   or that from Thabor's Mount thou must depart?
                   For thou has e'er a vision that will last -
                   Come!  Seek Me in the chapel of thy heart!'

 (from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 258)

Painting:  Daniel Ridgway Knight, A Moment of Rest

You are invited to leave a comment in the 'Parlor'