Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Cloister

I finally got some time to talk about what happened last week with my discernment and on the silent retreat.

You already know about my conversation with Fr. T., but I haven't spoken about my conversation with Mother Frangelico and Father. We three actually sat down the evening I came back and I explained what had been going through my mind.

Since I wrote about that, I'll only talk about the main points; I thought God was calling me to enter a cloistered community, and that would mean that I'd never get to speak to anyone ever again, or hug anyone ever again, or even eat enjoyable foods. I thought that I'd have to give up everything fun I've ever done. And so I put myself to the test to see if I could even do it, because if not, then I'd need a LOT of grace! Because I chatter all the time, and I'm an affectionate person...I just love nearly everyone I meet! And I love to cook and I love to eat, and all that. To spend the rest of my life in silence was just an awful thought, but I figured maybe it was a form of "white martyrdom" and that if God was calling me to it, well, I had to be obedient.

That's why I was so sad last week. That, and I was trying mightily to be so somber and reverent and quiet.

Well, Mother Frangelico (who used to be a cloistered nun) and Father explained that my idea of cloister life was WAY off base! They said that the women and men called to live set apart like that aren't silent 24/7, except maybe the Trappists, and even they can speak when they really need to. And I wouldn't have to live on bread and water, and most of the cloistered communities don't even forbid hugs...although I wouldn't be able to go around hugging my Sisters constantly, nor would I want to!

I was so relieved! But still, I wasn't sure if I could live in a cloister. Father and Mother looked at each other and then told me that maybe it's not quite time for me to consider that route just yet. And they said that the people who are called to it aren't terrified...they're joyful and filled with peace. And if I'm terrified, it's a sign that God is not calling me to that life. Maybe he will someday, but not now.

Mother gave me a movie to watch this afternoon, and actually, we all watched it. "Into Great Silence". It was amazing, about Carthusian monks. But half-way through, I heard snoring, and I looked over and Brother Gus was sawing logs, and Father was asleep in the easy chair. I thoght it was FASCINATING! I couldn't tear my eyes away from all that was happening!

It was very prayerful and very moving, and I feel a lot better about the whole cloister thing now. Although maybe they're right and I'm not called to it, but it's not as scary-looking as I thought. I supposed that if someone is called to live that kind of life, God does provide the grace to do it.

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