Emily’s interview with Br. Ricky when she first became a novice.
I was so excited when my human and I read the latest Mewsletter and learned that I could become a novice in the Feline Cloister. I am 15 years old, which I calculate to be 76 in human years. Now that I am older, I want to live every moment of my life fully present to the Goodness that enfolds me. I am finally following what St. Benedict says in the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict.
“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). Prologue 8
On a Zoom call Br. Ricky, the Novice Master, told me that I would become a cenobite when I am accepted as a full member of the Feline Cloister. Cenobites, he explained, “belong to a monastery, where they serve under a rule and a superior,” like Amma Jane (RB 2.1) Truth is, I am more a hermit than a cenobite and am not keen on making new friends.
But I would like to give the Feline Cloister a try because I already enjoy praying the Opus Dei daily with my human’s Zoom group. And I often pray Lauds and Vespers on Zoom with my own Benedictine oblate friends. Mewing the Opus Dei together is a big and important part of the lives of cloister members. I like that! Br Ricky explained that the Worldwide Novices mew the offices on Zoom.
I am a bit concerned about how being a novice will impact my life and shared this with Br. Ricky. Will I get enough of my favorite activities like eating, sleeping, and grooming myself? When the Rule was mewed to me, I was shocked to learn this:
“The sick may take baths whenever it is advisable, but the healthy, and especially the young, should receive permission less readily.” RB 36.8
We felines don’t like baths, but does this restriction also apply to grooming?
Another concern. Will I still need to have my nails clipped or go to the vet? Both are two of my most detested activities! I am encouraged because I learned that the Rule doesn’t say anything about going to the vet.
I am hoping I can still get pets and play with my mouse toy. Br. Ricky explained that toys must be shared (RB 33.2). Wow. I am glad I am not a resident novice, but meet with the other novices on Zoom.
My joining the Feline Cloister as a novice will help my human to keep her promises as a Benedictine oblate. She most certainly needs to learn to be attentive to the needs of others, particularly mine. I will admit I can get huffy when my human does not immediately respond to my cues for food. I guess St. Benedict doesn’t approve of huffiness.
“Do not grumble or speak ill of others.” RB 4.39, 40
I think that both my human and I can certainly learn the practice of the Presence of God and the art of simply being from every member of the Feline Cloister.
My favorite verse from the Rule:
“We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that in every place the eyes of God are watching the good and the wicked (Prov 15:3). But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the divine office.” RB 19.1-2