The Interior Life

You can’t write a novel about religious life for long without addressing both contemplation and action. As a former Dominican monk, I remember this as a great spiritual tension.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

A devotion to silent prayer, seeking a conversation with God, with the desire to develop an intimacy with the divine is called the interior life. It is a stance that is contemplative, quiet, and solitary. This is different from a life of an active ministry within the world. To devote attention to the interior life moves a person into the world of Christian mystics. Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila have written about how to live such a life. They are worth reading. Understand that the language of mystics is often wrapped in poetic imagery and symbolism. It took me a while to appreciate what they were about, but I profited from the effort to understand them. Truth to tell: it took multiple readings at different stages of my life!

Clare has chosen a life devoted to hours of contemplation and communal prayer every day. She does not live a life of languor or idleness. Her day is full of prayer and study. This kind of life, this kind of dedication is built on self-discipline grounded in love. Without both, she could not sustain herself very long.

If you’re interested, make a two-day retreat at a convent or monastery that has a retreat house or center. You can take part in their communal worship and spend the rest of the time in your own prayer and reflection.

Many of us are far more familiar with the idea of an interior life than we realize. Consider the increased interest in the reflective, peaceful nature of meditation and yoga. There is something about us that is sensitive to the je ne sais quoi of human nature that seeks a truth that lies deep within ourselves.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s