Sr Nikki, OSB-F
Cloister porter

Meet the Novices of the Feline Cloister

Hello.  I am Sr Nikki, OSB-F, the porter of the Feline Cloister, welcoming you to this part of the website.  My role as porter is to welcome visitors and guests as well as felines who are interested in joining the Feline Cloister.  Potential members arrive at the gate of the Cloister via the internet. I am the first one to share our delight that each one wants to explore becoming a Benedictine feline.

In  Chapter 58 – The Procedure for Receiving Monastics, Benedict gives instructions for teaching new members who are  called “novices.”  Back in Benedict’s time a potential member might have to knock at the door for four or five days! (RB 58.3) Benedict wanted to make sure that they were serious about seeking God and not just interested in food and a bed.

Today monasteries open their doors to potential members readily.  As in Benedict’s time, there is a period of instruction and testing before a person or feline takes the vows of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life, dedicating their life to God and the community.  Key to the instruction is, of course, learning all about the Rule itself.  If you are interested, you can join the novices as Br Ricky, our Novice Master, teaches about the Rule.  Just click here.

Busy preparing and giving lessons about Benedictine living, Br Ricky asked me to introduce each of our novices to you.  I asked each novice to share why they came to the Feline Cloister, what their human/s needed to learn, and a part of the Rule that has already mewed to them in an important way.  Perhaps what they share will really mew to you, too.

Novice Mickey

Hello.  The day that I met Br Ricky at the vet he mewed enthusiastically about Feline Cloister.  Intrigued and curious, I did some checking online, and here I am.

Learning about The Rule of St. Benedict has raised quite a few questions for me, like how I treat other felines with respect when they hiss at me (RB 72.4).  I think my human needs to learn this, too.  He grumbles a lot  about people who he thinks don’t respect him.

My Favorite Verses from the Rule, but they’re hard to do:

If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead.  (RB 4.32) … Do not grumble or speak ill of others   (RB 4.39, 40).

If this subject intrigues you, for a helpful article by Br. Ricky, Novice Master, “R-I-C-K with Ricky: Surviving the Chase,” jump here.

Novice Sebastian Thomas

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  That reality brought me to explore joining the Feline Cloister.

I have spent much of my life feeling overwhelmed with so many things to do and not enough time to do them.  I knew I needed to get my priorities straight, and to straighten out my relationship with God.  St. Benedict offers a way of life that is focused on peace within ourselves and with others.  Moderation is also an important practice in the Rule and this ranges from physical things to how much we take on.

All of these wonderful things that I am learning I will share with my human.  She is also continually stressed out.

My Favorite Verses from the Rule:

Place your hope in God alone (RB 4.41).

Let the porter be given one of the younger monastics if she or he needs help (RB 66.5).

Amma Jane wrote an article entitled “Living from the Spiritual Heart” that gave me some ways to turn from panic.  To see if these ideas could help you, too, jump here.

 

Novice Terri

I am so thrilled to be a novice.  I applied after reading a wonderful book about the Rule, Why the Rule of St. Benedict is Not Just for Humans by Sr Scholastica Muffin, OSB-F.

I want to dedicate my life to seeking God and to following Christ.  Sr Scholastica explains that the Rule gives us ways to do both.  Benedict gives us a blueprint for how to live the way Jesus shows us in the Gospels.  This is important for my human, too.  I am already mewing what I learn to her and she is very appreciative.

My Favorite Verses from the Rule:

What, dear sisters and brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?  See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life  (Prologue 19, 20).

What is God’s love and how do we experience it?   Amma Jane shares her thoughts in an article “The Inexpressible Delight of God’s Love.”  To read the article jump here.

Novice William

I’m not sure why I’m here.  It’s not really clear to me yet.  I have a feline friend, Bosco, who mews that I spend too much time thinking about myself.  Things started to change when one day while surfing on the net, I saw this on the screen:

Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?  (Ps 34:13 and Prologue 15)

Something clicked and I answered “Yes” to both.  I didn’t think more about it until later that week.   An eblast from a place called the Feline Cloister began with those very same words!  That got my attention.

Has this ever happened to you?  Out of the blue, messages appear that ask you to respond?

And so I am here, trying to figure things out by listening to the Rule, to Br Ricky, to my confreres and to my own heart.  I also listen to when I stamp down my paw and resist.

My favorite verse from the Rule: Tough to do…

Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice (Prologue 1).

If you focus on yourself a lot, check out an article by Br Randy, OSB-F, “Looking in the Mirror – The Evils of Pride and Vanity.  Jump here.

Novice Little Jenny

 

 

I’m a scholar.  One day I was in the town library and came upon a book that had fallen on the floor.  The title was The Love of Learning and the Desire for God  by Jean Leclercq, OSB.  The title intrigued me because I love both learning and God.

Reading the book, I discovered that from the beginning, Benedictine life has been shaped by both.  They are intertwined.  Leclercq wrote that “education is not separated from spiritual effort” [18].  Reading and meditating on Holy Scripture has the goal of “the pursuit of the spiritual life led in a community whose essential aim is the search for God.” [213]

I wanted a community like that and found the Feline Cloister.  I am learning how to pray Holy Scripture using a method called lectio divina (holy reading).

My favorite verse from the Rule:

Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer (RB 4.55, 56).

I found a wonderful article that Amma Jane wrote, “Living the Desire of Your Heart.”  To check this out, click here.

Novice Miss Sassafras

.One day when the vet was way behind seeing patients, I read an article about the Feline Cloister in the publication, “The American Feline – Mews for Cats.”  Curious, I emailed the Cloister for more information.  I instantly resonated with their mission to help humans live a more joyful and peaceful life.

I am a very devout kitty, one who knows the importance of living in the moment and being the kitty that God made me to be.  I take my role as companion and conscience for my humans (Mommy Kimberly and Daddy Joel) very seriously. In the same way, I will be a faithful novice, helping and learning from the others in the Feline Cloister.

Where do my humans need help?  Mommy Kimberly needs be more faithful in setting aside Sabbath time.  I know she would feel refreshed to just let me sit on her lap in the big chair.  We can gaze outside at the patio garden together.

Daddy Joel huffs about the “stupid mistakes” students make in writing their papers and the “stupid things” that colleagues say and do in committee meetings.  Benedict says that we are not to grumble about people or even hiss about other felines.  Makes sense for I can see that all that grumbling causes a spike in his blood pressure.  It is good for Daddy Joel to let me sit on his lap sometimes.  I know it calms him when he sits on the floor to give me a brushing.

My favorite verses from the Rule:

Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else (RB 4.20-21).

If you find yourself grumbling, check out Br Ricky’s article, “Replacing Labeling with Love” here.

Novice Clarissa Anne

Hello.  I found the Feline Cloister through my cousin, Novice Sebastian Thomas.  I shared with him that I was looking for a place where I could be with like-minded felines who were also looking for God.  The idea of becoming a novice resonated with me, and here I am!

To be honest, it is sometimes hard for me to stay focused.  I like to play with my catnip toys and take naps. I need others to hold me accountable to something bigger than me.  So, I decided to become a feline cenobite.

St Benedict instructs cenobites to  “belong to a monastery (the Feline Cloister), where they serve under a rule and an abbot (or abbess or prioress).  RB 1.2   There are a few other types of monastics, too, but Benedict lauds the cenobites, who he calls “the strong kind.”  RB 1.13   I sure want to be a strong kind!

I am very concerned about my human, too, another reason that I am here.  She is preoccupied with too many things that make her agitated.  She feels she has to do everything and finds it hard to ask us for help.  She grumbles a lot in the kitchen, too.  In the Rule Benedict arranges things so that grumbling is not necessary.  I like that!

 

My Favorite Verses from the Rule:

An hour before mealtime, the kitchen workers of the week should each receive a drink and some bread over and above the regular portion, so that at mealtime, they may serve the members without grumbling or hardship.  RB 35. 12-13

Amma Jane wrote an article entitled “Playing Games and The Rule of St Benedict.” As a lover of cat toys I liked the focus she placed on building community and how we are to be with one another.  To read the article, jump here.

 

Novice Mr. Biggs

I would like to join the Feline Cloister because I want to be in Kittyhood with like-minded brothers and sisters who believe there is only one God for all of us.  I am here to do my part and am always asking Br Ricky, our novice master, if I could do something for the Cloister.  You’ll see me on one of the website pages where I am introducing the able writers of the Feline CLoister.

I like to clean my beautiful fur so it is fluffy and shiny, much admired by my human.  I am a peace-loving feline who doesn’t like to fight with other cats.  I believe in Peace for all creatures on earth.  One thing I don’t like is when my human pets my tummy.  She doesn’t realize that I am ticklish and it isn’t dignified to laugh.

What I think my human needs to learn is to slow down, listen, and act upon the whispers she hears from God and trust those whispers are coming from Spirit.  I think ALL of us need to do that.

My favorite verse from the Rule: 

If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim (Ps 34:14-15 & Prologue 17).

If you would like to learn ways to be a peace-keeper, check out an article by Br Randy, OSB-F, “A Benedictine Model of Relationship: The Monastery Cellarer.”  jump here

Novice Michael James, Esq-F

My path to the Feline Cloister has been a long and varied one.  I grew up a stray on the streets of Newark, New Jersey.  Known for attacking felines, squirrels and even humans I had a bad reputation.

One day sauntering down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard looking for trouble, I encountered a man in a long black robe.  This stopped me in my tracks.  “What is this?” I thought.  I didn’t move.  The man knelt and scratched me behind the ear.

 

No human had ever done before. I was transfixed.  “You had better come with me, Michael James,” he said gently.  “How in the world did he know my name?” I mewed in astonishment.

Obediently I followed him up some steps and into a building filled to the brim with a cacophony of  laughter and the rush of feet.  I came to learn that it was St. Benedict’s Prep, a Catholic college preparatory school for girls and boys.  The school was founded and is  run by the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey.

My life changed.  I enrolled in St. Benedict’s Prep – Feline where I got a super education.  After college I studied law.  I dedicated my practice to helping young felines stay out of trouble and have productive lives.  But through my life there has been a niggling pull on my heart, drawing me back to the kind men in black robes.

When I discovered the Feline Cloister and spoke with Br. Ricky, Novice Master, I knew the next part of my life would be as a feline monastic.

My favorite verse from the Rule:

What, dear sisters and brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us.  See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.  Prologue 19, 20

Please be sure to check out the two websites shown above.  St. Benedict’s Prep is bringing hope and direction to so many girls and boys.