Sister Susan Marie: I did not send the newsletter this week; but we thought the interior life a fit subject.
Jul 20 2014, 7:15 PM
Sister Susan Marie: I see you are thinking of consecrated life still
Ca: Yes, me too, since all we do hinges on it. Yes, I am still wanting consecrated life.
Sister Susan Marie: There is also the “cloister of the heart” which interior life implies
Sister Susan Marie: If you still have the longing it’s only the place that you need search out I suspect
Ca: Yes, I think I know what you mean about a cloistered heart. We can be alone with Him even in the whirl of many things.
Jul 20 2014, 7:19 PM
Sister Susan Marie: That can be difficult to find exactly I remember a priest telling me early on did I want to stay in my apt because I probably would pray more there than in a monastery He knew all the work a monastery entails
Ca: A very wise priest. In my case I worked much less in the monastery than I did in my apt.
Sister Susan Marie: For me tho that cloistered heart needed to be separated from my normal activities and the monastery was best for my interior life, ultimately
Sister Susan Marie: Union with the Will of God is what counts
Ca: Me too. I find I need lots of time for solitude and quiet prayer. But then I miss the community prayer aspect
Sister Susan Marie: The interior life needs humility which is recognizing truth
Ca: It is. So many people believe so strongly in an issue, sometimes to where they don’t see the other side as people, just as problems. So I say something. Not to call them wrong, but to ask “what about the people you’re talking about?” I still get short
I mean shot. I think that’s where humility comes in too.
Our modern American culture has lost its flexibility and its ability to allow other people to have differing points of view, even when we’re all Christians.
In embracing being shot down, I have great difficulty in the moment of discerning what is true surrender and what is just submission.
What writers have you read that talk about this? I have read Stinnisen’s excellent book, but not much else that directly address this.
Sister Susan Marie: Old ones like the Jesuit de Caussade or Dom Marmion
Ca: I’m going to jot that down, thank you!
Sister Susan Marie: I need to absorb it slowly just a bit at a time and during the day see if I even practised once what is suggested
Sister Susan Marie: The book Union with God by Marmion is very spiritually attractive
Sister Susan Marie: The letters of de Causade are very steeped, thickly, in spirituality
Ca: I’ve heard of Union With God in the last few weeks, but I can’t remember why. I remember being in grade school and saying I wanted union with God and being told it was only for very holy people.
Sister Susan Marie: Wow! You were young to have that planted in you. No, it makes holy people, one is not holy until one begins to yearn for that union
Ca: Well, I was only seven or so, and knew I wasn’t holy. I was VERY disappointed!
Sister Susan Marie: How precious!
Sister Susan Marie: But it is only by constant yearning and attempting that we get there-
Ca: Yes, imagine my surprise when we were at a mini retreat on New Evangelization and the priest said union is for everyone. I remember the disappointment, but was thrilled to know I can actually have this. M
Sister Susan Marie: You’re not at the beginning- you’ve had experiences of prayer, early religious life and only you know all the rest..only the next step can be your goal- one at a time
Sister Susan Marie: I tell myself that alot too
Sister Susan Marie: There is so much insecurity in monastic life these days- at least in some Monasteries
Sister Susan Marie: But He leads us all
Ca: I have figured out that He only shows the next step, not the one after that.
Jul 20 2014, 7:43 PM
Sister Susan Marie: I am a “Long- ranger” so i need to remind myself of that one step at a time spirituality!
Ca: It seems that the uncertainty in monastic life springs from the question of financially supporting yourself. It takes a lot of money to maintain a large compound with acreage, and the days when the monastery was a self-contained city are long gone.
Sister Susan Marie: Hello! Have you been here before? We are talking round about the interior life
Guest407 (guest): No this is my first time here. I was reading the chatroll. I am interested in knowing the interior life
Sister Susan Marie: There are ways of growing interiorly. Prayer of course keeps us centered but most people get distracted
Sister Susan Marie: So we need gentle reminders during the day and silence definitely is a big plus
Guest407 (guest): Yes, I focus on prayer most of the day. How is the monastic life?
Ca: I find that taking many little breaks helps me stay recalled.
Jul 20 2014, 7:48 PM
Sister Susan Marie: The monastic life provides a structure, hopefully silence, and others around us also praying so there is strength in that.
Guest407 (guest): That is true
Jul 20 2014, 7:50 PM
Ca: I like the structure to the days of the monasteries I visited. I felt right at home with the schedule
Guest407 (guest): How is the structure?
Jul 20 2014, 7:51 PM
Sister Susan Marie: Generally monastics gather for vocal prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, 5 to 7 times a day, for instance
Ca: Sr Susan will be more exact, but to me it means the schedule of prayer & work
Sister Susan Marie: Yes and some recreation, hopefully!
Guest407 (guest): Okay, Im Christian, specifically pentecostal. I asked because prayer is a litle different, and there’s little structure. I am interested in the monastic life. It seems like every monastery is slightly different correct? 56 PM
Guest407 (guest): I wasnt aware of the lunch recreation, but it still seems great! Its beautiful to divulge in Gods prayers
Jul 20 2014, 7:56 PM
Sister Susan Marie: For example, we have a monthly “revival” group pray in our chapel so that more free form of prayer occurs too.
Ca: I was told by someone fairly reliable that there are no charismatic monasteries these days. But it sure would be fun!
Sister Susan Marie: I wondered if there were still any. I remember the Poor Clares in Ohio or was it Illinois used to be considered that.
Ca: Well, meals are a great time for conversation, but not so good for exercise
Sister Susan Marie: A balanced monastic life should have all these elements, exercise, etc but not all do. Aging is part of that I think
Guest407 (guest): I live in Brooklyn, but I dont know the hours of the chapel. Exercise is very important, balance is needed
Sister Susan Marie: Brooklyn? I’m in Brooklyn. Our chapel is open every morning from 7AM; then otherwise you would be welcome to make a day of recollection or retreat here
Guest407 (guest): Yes, I’ve been researching it, it seems very beautiful .
Sister Susan Marie: We have been blessed to be here that’s for sure
Sister Susan Marie: It’s as if the ground has absorbed all the prayers over the past 111 years of the Sisters and retreatants; peace emanates
Ca: holy ground.
Guest407 (guest): Thank God, thats wonderful. It definitely is holy ground
Sister Susan Marie: Yes that would describe it! There is a beautiful hymn about Holy Ground
Sister Susan Marie: So many people like to pray in creation for example – that certainly inspires
Guest407 (guest): I have trouble attending catholc churches in my area because many youth drink & socialize after attending church, & im not comfortable with it. Okay thank you sister susan
Ca: sometimes I like to be in nature, sometimes in chapel.
Jul 20 2014, 8:08 PM
Sister Susan Marie: I think once one is developed within the interior space takes over the place so to speak and the environment is not so influential later on. One then has union with God wherever one is. But it needs to be developed
Jul 20 2014, 8:08 PM
Guest407 (guest): Its definitely inspirational!
Ca: is it like the whole outside world just shuts off?
Sister Susan Marie: Yes the world shuts out in a sense or rather perhaps in drawn within
Ca: because sometimes I’ll sit to be in prayer, and I’m not aware of seeing or hearing anything
Sister Susan Marie: God is Unity and He brings us into that
Jul 20 2014, 8:10 PM
Sister Susan Marie: There is a unity of outside and inside so to speak
Jul 20 2014, 8:11 PM
Guest407 (guest): You see God in nature. I will try, I’ve been ill lately, so im familiarizing myself by watching catholic tv
Sister Susan Marie: That can be deep recollection
Sister Susan Marie: All things drawn into that still silent point within the soul, where the Lord resides
Ca: Where I see God in nature is variable. Have you ever watched the patterns of the clouds as they form and reform? God does that with our lives.
Sister Susan Marie: He is gazing on you with Love, on your soul, which reflects Jesus
Jul 20 2014, 8:12 PM
Guest407 (guest): That is beautifully worded
Jul 20 2014, 8:12 PM
Sister Susan Marie: That’s beautiful, that comparison
Ca but then, He is also like a tree in the forest. If you stand right there, with your nose against the bark, you can’t really see anything, but life of all kinds is all around
Sister Susan Marie: Such contemplative moments you describe!
Guest407 (guest): Amazing
Sister Susan Marie: Children can be natural contemplatives too
Ca: well, I was definitely drawn, but no one seemed to recognize it
Sister Susan Marie: I don’t think parents know how to look for a budding contemplative, usually!
Sister Susan Marie: I remember tho our Sr Joanna here who would point out all the child-theologians in her religion class!
Ca: no, they don’t. I’ve often toyed with the idea of The Interior Castle for 6 year olds, but how to go about it??
Sister Susan Marie: I used to have the 2nd graders go into their “heart-rooms” for meditation. They loved the “pencil meditation”
Jul 20 2014, 8:18 PM
Ca: Sr Joanna must have a million stories. Children so often see what we have forgotten
Am: I like the term “heart-room”
Jul 20 2014, 8:19 PM
Guest407 (guest): Its lovely
Sister Susan Marie: Speaking of trees, I would take them into the forest to a tree which would eventually become a pencil. Then they would pick up their own pencils and feel them and then Jesus would imaginatively write on their hands. This is before we got heavy into computers
Ca: I love it-very Ignatian
Sister Susan Marie: Kids loved meditationg like that- used their imaginations but also brought them to quiet places
Guest407 (guest): Its saddening technology replaced such an experience
Am: we need quiet times in our world
Ca: yes, we do, and we have to go back to square one teaching it
Sister Susan Marie: Do you each have a quiet place to go to to bring yourself more closely into the interior?
Ca: yes. I go to the bedroom, or down to the beach to walk
Amy: yes, I am fortunate to walk next door to the church.
Guest407 (guest): I pray in my bedroom
Ca: if I have trouble settling down, I’ll find an image of Jesus that speaks to me, then imagine myself into the picture
Am: Me too, or His Mother
Jul 20 2014, 8:27 PM
Ca: Mary will always take us to her Son
Guest407 (guest): Me too, I also listen to soft music or watch catholic tv to focus
Sister Susan Marie: An icon is another image that helpsme or being before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
Ca: I was taught icons are living images
Jul 20 2014, 8:29 PM
Sister Susan Marie: They often seem alive- dimensionally changing- it is hard to describe
Ca: yes, not literally alive…I should be more clear
Am: do you have a favorite icon/
Jul 20 2014, 8:30 PM
Sister Susan Marie: One’s heart needs to move then towards God and in intercession for others
Sister Susan Marie: No not a favorite one in particular
Guest407 (guest): I agree
Ca: There are so many beautiful one I find online-love the ones of Mary & Jesus especially. I have an actual icon I received as gift of St Michael
Sister Susan Marie: Especially now, with all the troubles and wars
Sister Susan Marie: Ultimately we need to unite our will with God’s
Ca: yes, and I feel the best way for me is to pray that I be united to His will, and only then can I pray properly for others
Sister Susan Marie: that’s close union and of course suffering will be a part of it at times
Ca: I’m glad you said that, because sometimes there is the sense that if we are suffering it is because we are not praying right or working hard enough
Sister Susan Marie: Jesus suffered on earth and when we join with Him or live His Life it has to be a part of it; also His Resurrection PM
Guest407 (guest): I believe there arent any right or wrong prayers. As long as you dedicate time to zgo
Jul 20 2014, 8:38 PM
Sister Susan Marie: true
Jul 20 2014, 8:38 PM
Guest407 (guest): God and meditate on His word, He will be there
Sister Susan Marie: praying with scripture is essential
Jul 20 2014, 8:39 PM
Ca: Yes, that’s excellent advice
Guest407 (guest): It definitely is essential
Sister Susan Marie: we meditate with scripture daily in monastic life
Guest407 (guest): Thats beautiful