Mimi – Clyde, Missouri

Hi there, from the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Adoration Monastery in Clyde, Missouri.  I would like to join the Feline Cloister as a Worldwide Novice because I ‘m special!  When I shared this with Novice Master Br. Ricky on our Zoom call his eyes widened.  But they really popped open when I shared that I am a three-year- old male.  He looked down and wrote something in his little notebook with his tiny green pencil.

“Um, I see,” the Novice Master mewed cautiously.  He seemed to be pondering something; then continued.  “Ah…I notice that you have a name that is usually given to female felines.”   “Not a problem,” I meowed with enthusiasm.  “At least not for me because it is my name.  I think that’s one reason I am special!”

Br. Ricky gave me a warm-hearted feline smile.  With enthusiasm he extended a paw and mewed, “Welcome to the Feline Cloister, Mimi.  We’re so happy to have such a special novice in our midst.”  I purred mightily.

 Br. Ricky explained that one of the instructions in the Chapter 4 – the Tools for Good Works cautions us against thinking too highly of ourselves.  He pawed open his well-worn copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict in Mew and read.

“You must not be proud.”  RB 4.34

This puzzled me.  I’m not proud.  I’m just telling it like it is!  “Isn’t it OK to be special, Br. Ricky?” I asked tentatively.   Br. Ricky gave me an understanding look.  “I shared this verse with your housemate Worldwide Novice Felicity.”

“The seventh step of humility is that we should be ready to speak of ourselves as of less importance and less worthy than others, not as a mere phrase on our lips, but as something we believe in the secret conviction of our hearts.”   RB 7.51  [trans by Patrick Barry, OSB] 

I listened carefully and did admit that Felicity has a better grasp on this than I do.  You can read about Felicity here, but don’t go there until you finish reading about me!

LeftNovice Mimi loves to visit the  Adoration Chapel at the monastery

Right – Worldwide Novice Felicity,
Novice Mimi’s monastic housemate

Br. Ricky asked what I felt were my main personality characteristics.  My human, a sister here at the monastery, says that I love to be the center of attention. I’ll mew a lot to convince her to do what I want.  Br. Ricky gave a feline chuckle at that, agreeing that most felines make it a point to get humans to do what the feline wants.  [A characteristic also found in the human community.]  He then gecame very serious and explained the vow of obedience to me.  We are to listen to what he, Amma, the Rule, and other humans and felines for what they are asking us to do.  We are to respond to what is asked.

“Obedience is a blessing to be shown by all, not only to the prioress and abbot but also to one another, since we know that it is by this way of obedience that we go to God.”  RB 71.1-2

“Novice Mimi, I encourage you, to make a special study of obedience in the Rule.”  I mewed a cautious assent to the suggestion.  I do want to be a worthy novice.  Noting my reticence Br. Ricky assured me that he, Amma and the other novices can gently guide me.


Mimi as a kitten, delighting to be outside and up in a tree, exploring.

What do I like to do?   I like to eat, explore, interact with other cats and people, and snuggle on my human’s lap when she is trying to type at the computer.  Sharing these with abundant joy prompted Br. Ricky to make a few notes in his little notebook with his tiny green pencil. 

Looking back up he gave me a feline smile and mewed, “Novice Mimi, it sounds like you approach your life with joy.  That’s wonderful and certainly a quality that you can bring to your study of the Rule.  And your love of exploring can help you explore the Rule.  That is very important.”

“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 19-20

By the end of these quotes, I was really purring and very excited to become a novice.  “So wonderful too, that you like to interact with other felines and humans,” he continued.  “Being in loving relationships with others is a key teaching in the Rule.”  Now I was sporting a broad feline smile.

I then confessed that I don’t like being confined indoors and get really annoyed when my human doesn’t let me outside when I want.  “Sounds like more challenges to the practice of obedience,” Br. Ricky offered.   Knowing that I needed to be honest, I cautiously finished the list of annoyances:  when my human doesn’t pay attention to me and when my food bowl is empty.

“Hmmmnm, I see, Novice Mimi.  I offer you this verse to ponder as you begin your journey as a novice.

“No monastics are to pursue what they judge better for themselves, but instead,
what they judge better for someone else.”  RB 72.7

I think Br. Ricky noticed the fur rising up on my back.  “Do take heart because this is a hard spiritual practice for us felines, and for humans, too.”  I nodded and thought, well, maybe there are good reasons why I cannot go outside when I want.  And there may be reasons why I’m not to be continually eating. Another thought popped into my mind – Does my human have other responsibilities besides giving me attention?  I’ll mew that over.

What do I think my human needs to learn?

That I’ve always been special!!

Br. Ricky looked down and made a quick note in his little notebook with his tiny green pencil.  He looked up and gave me an encouraging feline smile.  “You’ve got a good heart, Novice Mimi.  We’ll all help you with your growing edges.”

Whatever these “growing edges” are, bottom line, I’m really glad I made the decision to become a novice!

The pump Br. Benedict Furmore, OSB-F,
whose food dish is never empty.

My favorite verse from the Rule:

“What is more delightful than this voice of the Holy One calling to us?
See how God’s love shows us the way of life.”    Prologue 19-20

Novice Mimi eyeing his empty food dish.  Here he heeds the Rule –
to refrain from eating too much and to refrain from grumbling
(RB 4.36, 39)