Hello. My name is Ricky. I’m one of the cloister cats. I’m here to share some of my thoughts and the wisdom of learned Benedictine felines with you so we can do all those good things Benedict asks us to do. I’m just 4 years old (or is it 5??) so I’m really new to the Rule.
I came to the cloister as a kitten when there were seven other sisters and brothers. Amma caught me in a Have-A-Heart trap and took me to the vet to “get fixed.” That was scarey. I’d never been near people before – I’m what they call a “feral cat.” Not knowing what this term meant, one day I decided to check ‘feral” in a dictionary. I was horrified by what I read! Phrases like “relating to or suggestive of a wild beast” and “not domesticated or cultivated” broke my heart. I’m not wild and I have a cultivated side of me otherwise I wouldn’t read the Rule. I love the other cats. True, I don’t let Amma or the Prior get too close to me, and I’m always on edge that a human might do something unexpected that I’m not prepared to handle. Is this so different from them? Humans can be afraid in life too; of other people and of things that could happen in the future, for example. A human doesn’t know what someone else is going to do or say. It may be unkind or hurtful. Have you ever experienced this? I don’t want to be unkind or hurtful to one of my sisters or brothers in the cloister and that’s why I take to heart Benedict’s first tool in Chapter 4 – The Tools for Good Works: “First of all, love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul
and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself”. RB 4.1-2 I really try to do all three to my very best. It’s so important to watch what we say or how we speak of other cats…or people, too. I try not to say too much and have always really like what Benedict says in Chapter 6 – Restraint of Speech. He encourages us to refrain from speech because, quoting Proverbs, “In a flood of words you will not avoid sin” (RB 6.4 and Prov 10:19). Isn’t that true?? Sometimes mewing nothing is the most loving action.
With all this I have shared with you, wouldn’t you agree that calling me “feral” isn’t fair? Are these the mews of a “wild and uncultivated” cat? Well, Benedict encourages us to “bear injuries patiently” (RB 4.30b) and quietly embrace suffering, not weakening or seeking escape (RB 7.35-36). So I take a deep breath, turn to Christ and let him help me do my best to ignore this labeling, confident that God will reward me if I stay the course faithfully (RB 7.39). We can’t do anything about what others say about us but we can take a broader view and let it go. We can mew a prayer for the person or animal, too. That will change our hearts which is really the only thing that we can change.
I hope you found this helpful. I’ll keep trying my best to do a good job.
A quick word about the cloister. We lost dear Smokey last month. She was 15. She and her sister Marcy, who joined the Paradise Cloister in November 2012, were rescued by Amma in the parking lot of her church way back in 1999. There are just three of us now – me, Target and Charlotte. Things are really quiet.
Your loving feline Benedictine friend,