What is a "cloistered heart?"
It is an analogy in which our lives can be seen as "monasteries," places where God is loved and lived for and served.
Our call is to be in the world but not of the world. This is not a new or different idea; rather, it is an emphasizing, a kind of "underlining," of every Christian's call. The uniqueness of this emphasis is in its monastic imagery.
The word "cloister" speaks of total consecration. Those who enter a traditional physical cloister make a tangible break from the world. Compromise does not fit well in a cloister, nor does lukewarmness, nor does complacency. The cloistered life is absolute.
Christians living in the midst of the world are also called to live for God. But for us, the break is not so clean. The world is persistent in its tugs on the heart trying to live for God. We need support in our struggles to surrender our lives to God and to resist the world's allurements. This is where the imagery of the cloistered heart can be of help.
"If the cloister is in a man's heart, it is immaterial whether the building is actually there. The cloister in a man's heart means only this: God and the soul." (from Warriors of God by Walter Nigg, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1959, p. 13)
Our cloister is not made of bricks and stones, but of God's holy will in which we can choose to live. The will of God can form for us a "cloister grille," through which we may view and respond to all people and all circumstances around us.
There is much more to this basic analogy, and you are invited to have a look at it. Click individual titles - along the top of this screen - for more information about each subject. Thank you for joining in this adventure, for the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord!
"The heart is the dwelling place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, 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. The heart is the place of decision." (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2563)
"Thank God, there still remains one sanctuary, the sacredness of which no earthly power may violate… it is the sanctuary of the human heart."It needs no fixed place for its confines, no stated time for the opening of its gates, no particular hour of silence for its prayer. A thought, a word, a moment of reflection, and by faith and by love, the soul is within the blessed refuge, and the gates are closed on the confusion of life with all its noise and tumult. It is secure against the bitterness and the pain of persecution, or hardship or trial, or hurt of body, or wound of earthly pride, or failure of worldly ambition, for there she is inviolable, sacred, impregnable in the fortress of her own spirit. ‘Entering into solitude,’ we sometimes call the seeking of this sanctuary. But it is not entering into a lonely solitude. It is hearkening to the alluring accents and appeal of a Voice that will never, in time, be stilled, but will ever sound gently in the hearing of them that love: ‘Come apart with Me and rest awhile!” (from The Living Pyx of Jesus, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini and Co, Australia, 1941, p.101)
“Most beautiful of creatures, who desires so ardently to know the dwelling place of your Beloved in order to seek Him and be united with Him, you are yourself the refuge where He takes shelter, the dwelling place in which He hides Himself. Your Beloved, your Treasure, your one Hope is so close to you as to live within you." (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle)
“You are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
"We may well tremble to think what sanctuaries we are, when the Blessed Sacrament is within us." (Frederick William Faber)
*This is a repost from the archives of (November 23, 2014).