Novice Shadow – Torrance, California

I would like to join the Feline Cloister because I have the cloistered life down pat but would like to learn more about living in community with humans from others who are experts.  I am not used to humans at all; I lived in a shelter for 8 years, my only companions being felines.

I was adopted by a wonderful and kind person, Christine, who is a web designer.  Christine and Amma Jane partnered to produce the lovely and informative website that you are on right now. 

It’s been a challenge for me to begin to get used to being with a human, even someone as kind and patient as Christine.  Br. Ricky, our Novice Master, nodded in understanding when I shared this with him on our Zoom call.  Br. Ricky then mewed a verse from The Rule of St. Benedict  that has helped other novices not get discouraged.

“What is not possible by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”  Prologue 41

What kind of a feline am I?  I like to be left alone, out of the limelight, and don’t like to hang out with humans.  I don’t like it when my human tries to brush me or pet me while I’m napping.  I am also shy and quiet and don’t mew unless I have something to say.  Br. Ricky said that this is an excellent characteristic for a Benedictine feline.  Taking out his Rule of St. Benedict in Mew, he shared this from Chapter 6 – Restraint of Speech:

“…there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence…Indeed, so important is silence that permission to speak should seldom be granted even to mature disciples, no matter how good or holy or constructive their talk, because it is written: In a flood of words you will not avoid sin” (Prov 10:19).  RB 6.2b,3-5.

My ears flattened as I thought, “What?  We can’t mew unless we’re given permission?”  Br. Ricky noticed my reaction and quickly explained, “We aren’t this strict in the Cloister today.  But the truth is this – when we aren’t mewing or hissing, we can really be attentive, listen and learn from each other.”  I’m a curious cat and these verses from the Rule made me interested in exploring the Rule even more.

My human needs to learn patience and hospitality in terms of anticipating my needs and allowing me to learn to trust in my own time.  Actually, she’s pretty good at this now but we all can strive to be better.  And I can strive to grow in being comfortable and congenial around humans.  Maybe I can become less like a shadow and more like a beacon of light!

My favorite verse from the Rule

“Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation.  It is bound to be narrow at the outset.  But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”  Prologue 48, 49