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“I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.”
“In the monastery everything is directed to the search for the Face of God; everything is reduced to the essential, because the only thing that matters is what leads to Him.”
That a young woman, so full of promise, would willingly enclose herself behind walls and fences and grilles is for the modern mind a strange phenomenon. It is a scandal for some and a folly for many.
The contemplative nun has been, in some way, seduced by the One who is beyond all else. God has set His heart upon her, loved her and chosen her, and in response she longs to belong to Him with her whole being. Does not God have a right to set apart some of His creatures solely for His praise and glory? Does not the God of all creation deserve this whole-hearted attention to Him alone? But to be free for God alone means there must be a separation from the world.
In the early days of monastic life, the search for God compelled one to follow Him into the desert. Later, this withdrawal from the world took the form of a “monastic desert” created by the enclosure of the monastery. The enclosure is God’s space and is consecrated to Him. It is a place filled with the Holy One, where He is present in a special way. It is a place where one encounters God.
This is why a young woman enters a monastery: to live with God in the desert of the cloister and to find Him in that place of solitude. This limitation of space and contacts with the outside leads to an opening of space within the heart of the nun. Rather than restricting her, the enclosure broadens her heart to embrace with compassion the suffering and needs of the entire world.
“Wholly absorbed by His beauty, she finds in the cloister her dwelling place of grace and an anticipation of the blessedness of the
vision of the Lord.”
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