While looking over the Trappist website I found this beautiful description of monastic life.
What, then, is the monastic life?
The monastic life is a communal way of life in which men and women seek to respond to the conversion, the turning to God, offered by Jesus in the Gospels. In the monastic life, that turning to God is accomplished by means of renunciation. The various forms of renunciation are rooted in the teachings of Jesus and are not taken up for their own sake, or to be better than anyone else or to demonstrate one’s endurance. They are not embraced to prove that one is flawless or to draw down God’s grace like a magnet. Rather, the renunciation of one’s will, of marriage and family, of ownership, self-determination – ultimately, of oneself – are like an athlete’s training, to render body and soul a more responsive organism to God’s work. Just as athletic training doesn’t guarantee winning the game, this renunciation doesn’t guarantee sainthood. But such renunciations could focus one’s attention and reveal how much we depend on God. They can also free us from what would distract us from serving God and allow us to serve our community and the Church by prayer, sacrifice and living the communal life.More importantly, these renunciations are rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus. No matter how imperfectly we live them, they orient us to Christ and open us to his support and mercy and grace.
I liked this quote too:
"Life can be good in the monastery, but it’s not always fun. Remember, we are living a life of conversion – we even take a vow of continual conversion; but people in the process of conversion are not always the most pleasant people to be with. In fact, they can be just like you and me on our bad days. But I’ve always been able to find patience, support, direction and helpful challenge in the community if I looked for it. So, yes, life is pretty good here."
I laughed when I read the part in bold. That is SO ME right now. Caring for Miss Chilipepper is ripping the emotional skin off of me--I constantly feel like I'm showing the not very pretty parts of my soul to others. But she's pushing me into greater conversion of heart. Somewhere in this mess are my butterfly wings!