I would like to join the Feline Cloister because I am drawn to prayer. I love to be with my momma when she prays on the Facebook livestream, especially when she leads the daily office. I would love to learn more about the Rule and especially about the mystics and their cats. I love meeting new people, too, and am excited about meeting new felines in the cloister.
There will be challenges, though. I purr constantly. This could cause an issue. On our Zoom call Br. Ricky, the Novice Master, told me that the Rule is keen on silence. Benedict wants an environment that is quiet so that we can hear God better. Well, maybe I can learn to purr more quietly. I will try.
I love being groomed and wondered if grooming novices is allowed. Personal comforts would be tough to give up even for a richer prayer life. Br. Ricky pointed out St. Benedict’s view on personal comforts found in the Rule:
“Do not pamper yourself.” RB 4.12
Benedict also instructs, “Do not injure anyone.” RB 4.30 I have been known to nip my momma when I have had too much petting. Hearing this, Br. Ricky quickly mewed that, according to the Rule,
“…no one has the authority to strike any of the sisters or brothers unless she or he has been given this power by the superior.” RB 70.2
Giving a nip or paw swip to human or feline is NOT the kind of power that Amma Jane will grant to members or to novices, Br. Ricky stated firmly, but kindly.
Another thing I have been wondering about. As a novice maybe I won’t have to go to the vet? That would be great. Maybe I will be able to go outside like lots of other cats. I am encouraged because in the Rule Benedict instructs that the monastics may need to do harvesting (RB 48.7) That’s outside, right?
My momma says that I am a big cat with a big personality. I am a very curious feline who likes to do anything that my sister Emmy Louise is doing even though she is a 4 year-old black lab. I can easily steal a piece of dry food from Emmy’s bowl, something Br. Ricky was concerned about when I shared this with him. Although canines are not allowed in the Feline Cloister, I sure don’t want to give up being with Emmy Louise. I don’t want to give up other fun things like chasing toys, keeping a close eye on humans that come to the house, and snuggling under the covers in winter.
When I shared all that with Br. Ricky, he looked at me intently and said, “When we want to live closer to God there very well may be some things we need to give up. But I wouldn’t be concerned right now. One step at a time. Be open to the new things you’ll learn.” He mewed this from the Rule:
“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.” Prologue 41
I am hoping that as a novice I can help my human learn new things, too. Right now, what I think my human needs to learn is this: That she is enough. That she is truly called to be the rector of her parish and that God is at work through her. And, also, that she needs to give me more treats. I kept that last thought to myself.
My favorite verse from the Rule:
“Listen readily to holy reading and devote yourself often to prayer.” RB 4. 55, 56
I can’t wait to learn more about holy reading. It is also called lectio divina in Latin. Lectio is a slow and thoughtful reading of a spiritual text like the Psalms. When something catches our attention we stop and ponder and talk to God about the word or verses.