Friday, September 22, 2023

How Do I Become a Cloistered Heart?


How to be cloistered in heart?  

Short answer: by a total gift of self to God. 

Long answer: by looking at the steps a person takes to live in a physical cloister, and discovering if some of those aspects can be applied to living in the world.

The person entering a physical cloister does not stick her head in today and leave her arms and legs dangling outside to be cloistered at a later date. She is either in the cloister or she is not.  And yet we can give ourselves mostly to God and leave parts of our lives dangling outside that surrender. At least, that’s how it is for me.

Making the decision to embrace the will of God is not a once-and-for-all thing, of course. We re-decide, circumstance by circumstance.  But there is something about at least making a decision. One specific 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.

Sometimes I imagine myself standing before an enclosure door. I consider. I vacillate. I feel afraid. I want a print-out of all that will be asked of me before I give my “yes.”  I’m trembling, second-guessing, 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. 

"Jesus, I give You my whole heart and my whole will.  They once rebelled against You, but now I dedicate them completely to you…Receive me, and make me faithful until death.”  (St. Alphonsus Liguori). 

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

"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)   

Text not in quotes © 2013 Nancy Shuman.
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*This is an edited repost from the The Cloistered Heart: How To? page.