Rest: Monastic Life is Arduous

Beverly Lanzetta Meditations, Study

REST. MONASTIC LIFE CAN BE ARDUOUS. It is not by any means an easy life, for the majority of monastic communities support themselves through making products to sell or tilling the land or working in schools and missions. Despite the fact that many monks lead active lives, there is a palpable presence of rest in monasteries. I believe this comes from the monks’ hearts, which are resting in the divine. The monastic gives up the notion that a meaningful life has to follow the norms of civil society and have credibility on the world’s terms. This can be a challenge or a significant struggle for someone who has lived with the opposite belief—The Puritan Work Ethic, for example—that doesn’t allow for much rest.

We do not understand how un-restful we are until we experience divine rest. Much of the way we live does violence to the spirit, because it demands things that our true self has no intention of doing. We labor to fulfill obligations. But by being “useless” on the world’s terms, we can live honorably and uphold our larger, more important commitments. We can fulfill our commitments on monastic and contemplative terms, not according to the conditions and desires of the world.

If you desire to be monastic, you will find peace of heart when you realize that the Divine is already working in you, calling you to solitude. This is passive contemplation and divine rest, and the essence of the call to monkhood.


Excerpt, “My Soul a Feast of Prayers,” Forthcoming, © Beverly Lanzetta 2018

 

BEVERLY LANZETTA © 2018. All rights reserved.