Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tiptoeing Toward the Cell

’There is arithmetic in all this; and one is at a disadvantage until one learns to figure it out. A religious life is very nice in its calculations. If you follow the deductions of the cloister, you find out what seems good and remunerative in worldly life, and what is good and remunerative in a cloistered life, by a perfectly clear process of division and subtraction. The delusive speciousness of elegance in what we can buy is challenged by the genuine values of what the virtues can give us, even out of the seeming barrenness of a convent cell.’ (A Story of Courage, p. 33)

I've had intermittent trouble with our Internet connection. Plans for sharing all I would like about 'the cell' therefore, must be put on hold. In the meantime, I am spending a bit of time with the above paragraph, and particularly with its last sentence. I will admit that writing about my first experience 'in the seeming barrenness of a convent cell' is proving challenging. Primarily because there, I found the exact opposite of barrenness. But some things are hard to speak of, really.

Within a day or so (if the Internet cooperates, and by the grace of God), I shall try....

'The metaphor of the cell brings to mind the idea of a retreat in which the soul can renew its strength after the fatigue of the active life, where it can leave aside visible things to think about those that are invisible, and where it finally finds peace, far from external distractions…'(J.M. Perrin OP., from Catherine of Siena, Newman Press, 1965)

This post is part of our series 'A Story of Courage.' To continue in chronological order, click this line.


  1. This ties in so nicely with Monica's post about detachment, Nancy. It causes me to reflect more on how past (and, no doubt, current) attachments have prevented me from realising the extent of God's generosity. One thing that I'm especially reflecting on is the feeling of security. At times, I have been so attached to this need that I was closed to experiencing God's loving goodness. The emptying out of the fears, expectations and material distractions seems to spring clean the soul and prepare it for a spiritual feast (or a surprise party, for people like me who needed to be persuaded of God's all-encompassing generosity!)

    1. Vicky, I really, really need a spring cleaning for my soul :)!! And I LOVE the thought of a surprise party... it makes me think of friends who gave me a surprise party once, long ago. Because I had no idea that they were all going to show up unannounced, my cluttered house was ill prepared and I did not enjoy the event as the loving gift it was. Hmmmmm....