Black Pearl – Memphis, Tennessee

Hello, there.  My name is Black Pearl.  My human and all my friends call me Pearl, so you may, too.  I am 13 years and one month old and am Diamond’s sister.  She’s also a new Worldwide Novice.  You can read about her here.

I am so excited about becoming a part of the Feline Cloister as a new Worldwide Novice.  I’m joining because I think I need to, especially after what I shared about myself to Br. Ricky on our Zoom call.

While I do not like change, I am discovering that sometimes change can be good, like coming to live with my new human after some harrowing experiences.  I like adventure, and I’m hoping that joining the Feline Cloister will satisfy my longing for adventure and love.

On our Zoom call Br. Ricky gave a happy meow when he heard about my longings.  He mewed that the Rule is all about love. He quickly pawed open his copy of The Rule of St. Benedict and shared these wonderful verses about love in the Cloister.

“Among themselves they show the pure love of sisters and brothers; to God, reverent love; to their prioress or abbot, unfeigned and humble love.”  RB 72.8-10

That made me really purr.  I asked if Benedict gives us ways to show love.  Absolutely was Br. Ricky’s response.  He mewed this verse as an example:

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

I don’t think Br. Ricky noticed my fur rising a tiny bit when I heard that instruction.  What REALLY annoys me is when I don’t get my way.  And I like to be first!

Br. Ricky asked me to share my outstanding personality characteristics.  I confessed that I like to be dominant and can be a tad domineering.  I can mew in a very demanding voice and hiss loudly when displeased.  At that, Br. Ricky grabbed his little green pencil, looked down, and pawed some notes in a little notebook.  To redeem myself I mewed that I love to have head scratched and really enjoy pets from my human.  And am very inquisitive, too.  And bold.

Illus. Cat Tower.  Brothers Target and Randy, (top) now in the Feline Paradise Cloister and Br. Ricky 

I like to play with cat toys and to relax on the bottom floor of the big cat tree.  I’m hoping that as a Novice these activities won’t be forbidden.  In the Rule Benedict DOES say that after the meal monastics may lie on their beds and rest.  RB 48.5 

But after Sext and their meal, they may rest on their beds in complete silence; should any members wish to read privately, let them do so, but without disturbing the others.  RB 48.5

I mewed that I really like to eat, too.  I eat both my own food and my sister’s food.  Br. Ricky looked a bit concerned at this but gave an understanding nod.  I told him that after my former human died, I was thrown outside.  I didn’t know how to find food.

Br. Ricky shared that he was always hungry before coming to the Cloister.  It took him a while to overcome the fear that there wouldn’t be enough food to eat.  He assured me that my human will provide the food that I need and gently suggested that I meditate on these Rule verses.

“Refrain from too much eating.”  RB 4.36

“…above all overindulgence is avoided, lest anyone experience indigestion. For nothing is so inconsistent with the life of any Christian as overindulgence. Our God says: Take care that your hearts are not weighted down with overindulgence.” (Luke 21:34).  RB 39.7-8

I don’t consider what I do to be overindulgence.  I look out for my sister Diamond and feel that part of her share of food is mine.  But I will ponder these verses.  THAT will be an adventure!

Br. Ricky asked what I don’t like.  That was easy:  to be thwarted in eating my sister’s food, to hear loud noises, to be told “no,”  and to see visitors of any sort.  After making a few notes in his little notebook, Br. Ricky shared that visitors are always welcome in the Feline Cloister.  In fact, he mewed, hospitality is a key teaching in the Rule.

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, who said: I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt 25:35).  RB 53.1

Wow! I mewed to Br. Ricky.  That is really something else I need to ponder.  Maybe I could welcome visitors with a quick glance, then run and hide.  Br. Ricky gave a little feline chuckl

As a Novice I am going to be inquisitive about the Rule to help my human.  My human needs to learn to mind her own business and stay out of our sibling conflicts. My sister Diamond and I have lived together for almost thirteen years, and we’ve got a good thing going on. I protect my sister, and I claim my share of her food for that protection.

My human also needs to learn to be more adventurous and curious, like me! And sometimes she needs to learn to hiss and growl and stand up for herself, as long as I’m not the one she hisses at!

Pearl with Diamond enjoying a moment of sisterly togetherness

My favorite verse from the Rule of St. Benedict:

“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

Now we’ll see if I can live up to this way of acting!

Pearl’s sister Diamond ready to eat
while Pearl receives pets