Sr Esperanza (Espy) OSB-F
The Paradise Cloister –
Founding Members of the Feline Cloister
Hello! I am Sr Espy. Abbess Jane asked me to contribute a page for the website about members who are no longer with us.
We have been blessed with many members who have departed this life for the Feline Paradise Cloister. I have chosen a few special Benedictine felines to highlight.
For each I have included his or her favorite verse from The Rule of St. Benedict. Perhaps one of these verses will speak to you and your life. I do hope so. If not, I may need to seek you out for a paw swipe. I am noted for such un-Rule like actions. Benedict says,
“…no one has the authority to excommunicate or strike any of the members unless given this power by the superior.” RB 70.2
I tend to ignore this instruction.
Notable and Memorable Members Now in the Feline Paradise Cloister
Br Randy OSB-F
Br Randy was noted for his sharp wit, keen observation and consummate writing skill. He used all three in his penned tomes about Amma Jane which are available on this website. He loved cuddling up to Charlotte. By unanimous vote of the Cloister, Randy was appointed “Prime Mewer” to loudly expedite mealtime action from Cloister serving staff, Amma Jane and Prior John.
Randy’s favorite verse from The Rule:
“First and foremost, there must be no word or sign of the evil of grumbling, no manifestation of it for any reason at all.” RB 34.6
To find Randy’s pithy articles, please jump to “Mewsings on The Rule of St. Benedict” by a quick click here.
Sr Charlotte OSB-F
Sr Charlotte, known for her gentleness and patience, also had great tolerance for the foibles of other Cloister members. Laid back and accepting of the unpredictability of life (irregular mealtimes especially), Sr Charlotte also liked to have fun as you can see in the picture below.
Charlotte’s favorite verse from The Rule:
“The monastic must hate the faults and love the members.” RB 64.11
Sr Charlotte going for a ride, powered by Prior John.
Br Target, OSB-F
Br. Target, former dean of the Cloister, was known for virtuous living and good repute as required by St. Benedict. (RB 31.1,4) Completely at home in his own fur, Target was in charge but without flaunting his position or authority. Br Target loved Amma’s garden and was Br Ricky’s role model.
“The twelfth step of humility is that a [feline Benedictine] always manifests humility in his bearing no less than in his heart.” RB 7.62
Br Mickey OSB-F
Br. Mickey was a charming, good-natured Benedictine; accommodating, quick to learn, and loved Amma’s canned salmon. He was patient, too, enduring twice daily eyedrops for the last several years of his life. Most often seen in a cat bed.
Mickey’s favorite verse from The Rule:
“…after Sext (a prayer service) and their meal, they may rest on their [cat] beds in complete silence.” RB 48.5
Br Rudy OSB-F
Amma Jane and Prior John “rescued” Rudy from the cliffs of the Delaware River behind the house where John’s mother Ruth had lived. Br Rudy’s personality was a dark as his fur. Not all Benedictines are cheery, and Rudy was grumpy and liked to be left alone, especially at photograph time. He mellowed with age, however, probably under the positive influence of Br Target and The Rule.
Rudy’s favorite verse from the Rule:
“Indeed, so important is silence that permission to [mew] should seldome be granted even to mature disciples, no matter how good or holy or constructive their talk, because it is written: In a flood of [mews] you will not avoid sin.” (Prov 10:19).
Br Sam OSB-F
Sam lived in the Watchung Reservation with other stray cats. Amma and Prior John fed these cats once a week. One day Amma saw a black and white cat devour two (yes, 2!) cans of catfood while another cat looked on forlornly. When the now stuffed cat lumbered away Amma thought, “There goes Sam!” Shortly after Sam entered the Cloister, becoming “top cat” in spite of the Rule’s regulation that seniority be based on date of entry (RB 63.1).
Sam was a friendly, kind and loving feline. Most touching was when he laid down next to Joey the night she died. Sam loved many kinds of people food and would catch peanuts and raisins in his paws. Peanut butter was a favorite.
Sam’s favorite verse from the Rule:
“Let the superior strive to be loved rather than feared. RB 64.15
Sr Winnie OSB-F
Sweet Sr Winnie resided by herself in Amma Jane’s office, the Feline Cloister Annex. This was because Sr Espy would not follow St. Benedict’s instructions against striking another member. (RB 70.2) Sr Winnie was gentle, thoughtful and fun-loving. She was often seen playing with Amma or by herself with various toys. She was an office supply fan. Her favorites play items were small post-it pads, paper clips, and narrow folded-up pieces of cardboard. Her dream was to go to Staples to get more “toys.”
Winnie’s favorite verses from The Rule:
Do not repay on bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9).
Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27)
If [felines hiss at you, do not hiss back] but bless them instead. RB 4.29, 31, 32
Winnie always put her toys away neatly for Benedict wrote to “regard all the tools and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar” (RB 31.10)
Winnie having fun with a catnip toy.
Dear little Mollie had come into the Feline Cloister as a novice. Rescued from a Wendy’s that must have also been near Chinese takeout, Mollie loved onions, Chinese food and bell peppers. She was very much her own cat and was loved by her human, Christine, our web designer. Living to the ripe age of 22, Mollie was faithful, adaptable and always loved the guys.
Mollie’s favorite verse from The Rule:
“When novices are to be received, they come before the whole community in the oratory and [mew their] promise of stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience.” RB 58.17
Mollie is featured in Br Ricky’s novice instruction about The Rule of St. Benedict. To join the instruction and Novice Mollie, jump here.
A Closing Word from Sr Espy
Did you enjoy reading about our wonderful Benedictine ancestors? We have had extraordinary members in this Feline Cloister.
But even more important, did you find a verse from The Rule above that spoke to you? St. Benedict encourages us not venture out of the Cloister because it is not good for our souls, (RB 66. 6-7) so I would hate to leave here to track you down for the promised swipe!