Such rare exceptions include, for example, monks and nuns who lead an enclosed lifestyle. For them, the enclosure is not a compulsory measure due to a state of emergency, but a voluntary choice and a permanent way of life. What can we learn in a new situation? We asked this question to the sisters of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, located in Karaganda.
Let’s benefit from the quarantine together with the abbess of the Carmelite monastery, Sister Teresa.
Once a musician asked me: “Do you know what is the best music for a musician? It is … silence”. And I agree with that. For me, silence is also a kind of music that brings me relaxation, gives me strength, helps me to concentrate, teaches me to admire simple things, for example, the rising and setting of the sun, the clouds, the starry sky, the whisper or the force of the wind, some kind of insect…
All this helps to open the presence of God, His love, teaches us to hear oneself and one another. Silence creates a space where you remain yourself and discover the truth about yourself and the other person… Sometimes this truth may not be very pleasant. Maybe that’s why we drown out the silence.
2. WORKING WITH INTERNAL FEARS
It is irrelavent of whether I live outside the enclosure or in it, wherever I am, I always stay with all my life experience. But in solitude, all deeply hidden fears come to the surface, and a spiritual battle begins. A person faces various fears, but, probably, the main fear is the fear of death. Not only the big one that awaits us all sometime, but this everyday little death, the fear of daily dying. We are all afraid of dying, afraid of what may await us after death. How do we deal with these fears? Learn to trust God and people. Everyday. Prayer, the Sacraments, the lives of the saints – all this is given to us to help us overcome various difficulties and fears.
3. DISCIPLINE AND INTERNAL FREEDOM
By consciously limiting ourselves in something, by disciplining our body, we strengthen the strength of our soul, gaining inner freedom. If I am not mistaken, this is called ‘asceticism’.
This process is described by St. John of the Cross in his work ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel Mount Carmel’. The very name ‘Ascent’ implies a certain path, a process, sometimes long and painful. Surely, the one who has gone to the mountains knows that the higher the goal is, the less things you need to take with you, the freer you should become. Or, for example, explorers of the deep sea. In what form do they dive?
4. TIME TO READ THE BIBLE
It is important to take time to read the Word of God. Even if at first you will not understand the Bible – nothing, read it. And soon you will learn this living language of Holy Scripture. After all, when you learn a foreign language, you also do not immediately understand everything. And our desire, constancy and work will help to achieve what we want.
5. ATTENTION TO CLOSE PEOPLE
As paradoxical as it may sound, life in enclosure teaches openness and attentiveness to the presence of another, teaches to love. If rearrangements are possible in the apostolic orders and congregations, then in enclosed communities we always live with the same sisters, with all their virtues and shortcomings, with this and not another character, with a different life history. Humanly, this would be impossible. But when you discover the presence of God and His love in your life and, moreover, experience it on yourself, then you will learn to love another with the love that Jesus speaks about in the Sermon on the Mount.
Sometimes, looking at us, I imagine a field of flowers, of various colors, and then I see the beauty of community life, and admiration for the work of a Designer who never makes mistakes is born in me. This gives strength to continue learning to love, despite all the difficulties of the given lessons.
Dear ones, I would like to add, in this new unusual situation, the main thing is not to lose hope and trust in God’s providence. After all, when we believe that God is love, we know that love will never hurt. This means we can stay calm. May the words of Psalm 23 bring you comfort and hope: Even if we are now passing through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear evil, because God is with us.