Isolation: An amazing grace

The situation that much of the world is going through is obviously disconcerting. The decision to use social distancing, isolation and other containment measures to slow down the spread of coronavirus disease can be deeply unsettling: how can we live in a confined space within our own homes? Not just for 24 hours but for weeks, a month, maybe longer? Our Discalced Carmelite friars in Paris offer suggestions to help us welcome God’s grace in this moment, united with the Carmelite family.

The real challenge of the cloister

Here, the spiritual tradition of Carmel comes to our rescue! Through the means of monastic enclosure, it could help us to experience this crisis not only as a problem but also as an opportunity, as an amazing grace that we can receive.

In the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila founded her first monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns living in a strict enclosure. Why? So as to create a free space protected from outside intrusions in order to lead a life centered on the presence of God.

This is what Carmel is all about: experiencing the intensity of God’s presence within a limited space. #Isolation #HolyWeek

Here we are: condemned during this period of confinement to live the life of Carmelite nuns in spite of ourselves… We may as well do it with a bit of intelligence!

Living in a limited space

Of course, this isn’t easy and you have to learn how to do it, especially when you haven’t chosen it, unlike the nuns. It takes time to get used to this limited space. Moreover, we don’t have equal opportunities in our stay-at-home, quarantined, or isolated, lockdown living situations.

However, St. Teresa can help us in her writings by showing us the importance of recollection: to choose to turn toward the interior of ourselves; to discover there the presence of God hidden in our hearts; to experience that where we are, we can live with God. God is even found in the middle of the pots and pans, as Our Holy Mother testifies!

The challenge is to accept the need to master our interiority. This will be done differently depending on whether we live alone or in a restless house, but for each one, a pathway is possible!

So let’s try to turn the constraints of confinement into an opportunity for growth in contemplation. We will grow through this ordeal.

Let’s try to turn the constraints of confinement into an opportunity for growth in contemplation. We will grow through this ordeal. #Isolation #HolyWeek

Expand your space within

Here are a number of ideas to help you through this period of confinement:

Before God for All

In 1934, the newly-clothed Carmelite, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein, 1891-1942) wrote to an old friend: “Whoever enters Carmel is not lost to his own, but is theirs fully for the first time; it is our vocation to stand before God for all” (Letter 174).

It is our vocation to stand before God for all. #EdithStein

In these harsh times when the baptized may be deprived of public access to the Eucharist, please believe that in Carmel, we friars, sisters, and laity who also are members of Carmel, are living out our contemplative mission of intercession for the world with particular intensity. Each day before the Lord, we present your intentions and ask the Lord for the strength to get through this time of trial together. In a special way, we entrust the sick, the lonely, and the caregivers to the Lord.

When Europe was beginning to be torn apart by the Wars of Religion, St. Teresa of Avila wrote: “The world is all in flames… this is not the time to be discussing with God matters that have little importance” (Way of Perfection 1.5).

This is not the time to be discussing with God matters that have little importance. #SaintTeresaofAvila

We’re bringing her plea up to date. May this time of confinement give us the grace to come closer to God and to love our neighbor better. We’re in communion with you!

This is not the time to be discussing with God matters that have little importance.

8 thoughts on “Isolation: An amazing grace

Add yours

  1. Your blog is an answered prayer to me! Thank you for your inspiring words. God bless you Sisters!

    1. God reward you, Chris. Let’s continue to share this message in gentle, genuine Carmelite ways in our own experiences each day. Thanks so much for your encouragement!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: