Hello! My name is Cleopatra Whitney. I am 7 years young; in human years that’s 44 years old. I would like to join the Feline Cloister because my human finds me to be very spiritual, and I want to stay that way.
On our recent Zoom call, Br. Ricky, our Novice Master, nodded appreciatively and gave a little purr when he I shared my reason to become a novice. He encouraged me to take to heart all that Benedict says, especially in Chapter 4 – The Tools for Good Works. This chapter gives personal qualities and actions needed for a spiritual Benedictine feline. These tools can help me become a feline who reflects the love and grace of God in every part of my life.
Br. Ricky noticed that my eyes are soulful and bright. My human says that they shine like flashlights. He told me to keep these eyes open to find God in others and in every part of my daily life. Benedict reminds us that the presence of God is everywhere (RB 20.1). Br. Ricky opened The Rule of St. Benedict and read this.
“Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps. 95:8). Prologue 9-10
God’s voice can be hard for me to hear because I like to eat and to sleep a lot. One of the high points of the day is to nap or just relax on a chair in the sun. Will I need to give up either of these as a novice? I asked. Br. Ricky assured me that we will cull the Rule to see if I need to make changes. Noticing my concerned look, he told me not to worry. Benedict is most compassionate with our weaknesses and takes this into account in the Rule. Br. Ricky mewed…
“…we intend to establish a school for God’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.” Prologue 45-47
I sure hope the strictness is not too strict.
I love to grace my humans with loud purrs. Br. Ricky offered a special way I could look at this gift to my humans. He said when I purr I can remember that I am offering the love of Christ, one of the tools in Chapter 4 (4.21). How wonderful is that!
Cleopatra relaxing in the sun,
hoping there will be no loud noises
Gathering up my courage I admitted two things. First, I do not like loud noises. You’ve come to the right place, Br. Ricky assured me. Benedict wants the monastic enclosure to be peaceful and quiet. While I won’t be in the Feline Cloister in New Jersey I can negotiate with my human to restrict loud noises. If such noises do occur he suggested that I mew this to my human.
“No one is to pursue what he or she judges better for themselves [like doing something that makes loud noises], but instead what they judge better for someone else [like me!]“ RB 72.7
Since I was in a confessing mode, I also shared that when I grow weary of being petted, the boxer in me comes out. Br. Ricky‘s eyes got real wide. He quickly recovered his composure, pawed something in a little notebook, and gently mewed an important directive from Chapter 70 – The Presumptions of Striking Another Monastic at Will.
“In the monastery every occasion for presumption is to be avoided, and so we decree that no one has the authority to excommunicate [discipline] or strike any member of the community unless given this power by the prioress or abbot…After all, it is written: Never do to another what you do not want done to yourself” (Tob 4:16). RB 70.1-2, 7
I love my human. Becoming a novice in the Feline Cloister I can share Benedictine practices to help her learn how to live life, and stop watching it go by. I know I help already with this. Br. Ricky looked pleased and mewed that Benedict asks us to approach life with all urgency.
“Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom. 13:11)…Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35). Prologue 8 & 13
I’m ready to be roused from sleep and run forward to shine my eyes on all the wisdom of St. Benedict!
My favorite verse from the Rule of St. Benedict:
“Place your hope in God alone.” RB 4.41