What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.

1 August 1835

I have been thinking a lot about vocation. Do I have one? And if so, what is it? Is it from me or from God? What if I tell people and they laugh?

This morning I thought about one of the earliest pieces that people normally read when they start with Kierkegaard – the journal entry for 1 August 1835. And, in particular, it is the end, “and die”. Is the vocation something I am willing to die for? Or, to put it another way, am I willing to live it for the rest of my life? No matter what the cost. If so, whether the church says it is a vocation, or other people, because less relevant. Yes, God speaks through others! But am I dedicated enough to stick it out to the very end even under opposition.

And then I thought about a quote from a book I have been reading (which I think I have shared before):

And it is in this sense that it has been rightly said that monasticism is a kind of substitute for mar­tyrdom.

I am not sure what a “substitute” means in this context. And I know that various forms of monasticism have sometimes been called “white martyrdom”. So putting it all together I am still as clueless as always!!!

ultimate wager

Life in Religion is the ultimate wager on the existence of God. The Church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. This is the reason why I hold the Religious life in the highest esteem. Through the commonality of goods, the life of obedience and above all the commitment to shape life around the Opus Dei (that is, prayer), the monastic life models for all Christians what it means to live fully and abundantly, with and for Christ.”

The Most Rev’d Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Foreword to: Anglican Religious Life 2016-17

I have been thinking about the above quote a lot.

new monasticism?

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands, do with me what You will. For whatever You may do, I thank You. I am ready for all, I accept all, let only Your will be done in me, as in all Your creatures: I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into Your hands I commend my soul I offer it to You with all the love of my heart. For I love, You, my God, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father. Amen.

Prayer of Charles de Foucauld

I found the above on an Anglican website about the religious life. I have been reading a number of these and finding them very helpful. I have created a page (Anglican Religious Life) that has links to various communities and “committees”.

Anyway, I will leave you with that for today. Have a Jesus filled day!!!

a rule of life

I have been wondering about revising my rule of life. I think it is too prescriptive rather than descriptive. So I have been reading a book about how to create a rule of life, Crafting a Rule of Life. I think I need to read the book with an open mind and not just look for validation. But the following from the introduction does very much say what I have been thinking:

A rule of life is descriptive in that it articulates our intentions and identifies the ways in which we want to live. And when we fall short of these intentions, the rule becomes prescriptive, showing us how we can return to the path that we have set for ourselves and recapture our original vision.

Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life

I would like to be more descriptive in my spiritual life. For me, it can all become very legalistic and “against the Spirit”. I do not make myself more (or less) acceptable to God by what I do. The rule of life needs to grow out of a desire for holiness – to be transformed in Jesus. My rule of life needs to express a relationship that is beyond the rule not somehow encapsulated by it.

Also I am not a monastic. I am not called to the religious life. My rule needs to reflect my context. And it needs to actually work in my context. No good prescribing the whole sevenfold office when I struggle to pray ones a day.

So I am going to work on this for a while. I might share more about the process and maybe even the end result. Pray for me!

anchorite insights …

While exploring my new favourite topic, Julian of Norwich, I found this:

Living within four walls: A guide for modern day anchorites

The article uses the anchorite tradition to give some insights for living during a pandemic. I think most of the suggestions are really helpful for anyone who is seeking more solitude and simplicity in their life. So I am going to share them:

  • Set a schedule
  • Keep the cow outside
  • Plenty of windows
  • Focus on your five senses
  • Fasting
  • Notice nature
  • Read
  • [Take a patron saint]
  • Hobbies of service

I think setting a schedule is a very good starting point to seeking more solitude. Include times of prayer and times of physical activity. I think an important part is setting time for reading. Not seeing reading as a luxury but as part of the daily routine. I also like the idea of having windows that look out at the world. I have a lovely window in my room and I look out at the garden when I work and when I pray.

Fasting is not a good idea for me – I have enough trouble eating without setting limits. But being aware of your physical health, doing things to look after yourself physically, is a good idea. I include time for my mental health.

I would love a cat but that is not an option in my current living arrangements. But I hope in the future.

So read the article and use the insights in establish more solitude in your life.

hermit maybe?

I have a very stressful week ahead. A lot happening that I am not ready to face. I have had a headache for three days that I am sure is the stress related to the anxiety that I am feeling.

So my first reaction is to dream about being a hermit – to live alone somewhere without contact or interaction with other people. Recluse would be a better term – or a solitary. The other option is to enter some monastery somewhere and disappear. The problem is that I do not have a vocation to the religious life – either as an individual or within a community. To be honest, I am unsure if I have any vocation or calling. I have tried to wear various masks during my life – masks that often others gave me or that I thought others wanted me to wear. So I think this would just be another version of a mask that has been given to me by someone else.

I know for certain that it would just be a form of escapism. I like to run away from my problems rather than face them. I procrastinate because I cannot face the world. So I would be running from the world rather than to religious life.

I have learned over the last three months and I am extremely grateful for the people who have helped me. I also carry the pain of people who have decided that they cannot bare with me any longer. And that pain is so real at the moment that it colours everything in my life.

In the end I am alone before God. I have to act – no one else can act for me or on my behalf. I have to face my actions and the consequences. Hopefully I will be able to look back on this time and see it as a time of growth. But right now I am anxious and stressed.

So hermitage – yes or no?

anglican monasticism

One of the topics I am interested in is the Anglican expression of the monastic tradition. Part of this is trying to keep up to date, and support in prayer, various religious communties throughout the world. So I follow Vocational Stories into Anglican Religious Life.

Today there is a post, Pictures of Alnmouth friary, that has some spectacular pictures. I will share only one:

I like the simplicity and the focus on the Pascal Candle. I love the icon in the corner! And the monastic stalls are a great way for a community to prayer.