October 31, 2013
From guest writer Nancy Shuman, of The Cloistered Heart

As I take a deeper look at our inner monastery, I think of St. Teresa's Interior Castle.  The outer "room" (first mansion) is where people try to stop offending God.  They may perform a few good works. They are free from serious sin and the King does dwell in their castle, writes Father Thomas Dubay, "but they have only a tenuous relationship with Him, and they scarcely see His light, so submerged are they in things of the world."

"What then, is the beginner to do?" asks Father.  "Most people cannot leave the world in a bodily sense, but every follower of Christ who is serious about genuine growth must leave the spirit of the world."  This is a "cloistered heart" statement if ever I've heard one.

Thankfully, Father Dubay provides direction on how to move forward..... how to, in effect, find the door in the wall:  "The main business of the beginner, therefore, is to make a determined turnabout from preoccupation with this worldly life to a life centered in the Trinity."  (quotes above from Thomas Dubay SM, Fire Within, Ignatius, 1989, pp. 81-82; click this line for a link to the book).

At this point I would like to share something written by a friend.  Having once been in the
postulancy and novitiate of a Religious Community, Rose brings a perspective I have never personally known.  

"When I left the convent...  I had this idea that prayer, holiness, and the spiritual life were for the religious vocation and hidden behind high, thick brick walls.  I longed to find a crack in that wall so I could have just a tiny taste of the spiritual life I once knew.   Then the Holy Spirit brought the Cloistered Heart to me.  The Cloistered Heart allowed me to squeeze through a tiny crack in that big brick wall. I long for the fullness of all of God's promises for those who love Him to the heights.  And if that sounds presumptive, then so be it, because I know that it is meant for us all.  Not just the Religious or the saints, but for all......"

Can I identify with Rose's words?  Am I ready to leave behind anything that walls me off from total surrender of self to God?  Am I truly serious about my relationship with Christ?

If so, then my journey into the inner cloister has begun.


  1. How beautiful. It is so hard hear God submerged in this world that never stops and is never quiet. One thing I need to practice is silence and stillness. I just finished reading Teresa Tomeo's new book "God's Bucket List" http://j.mp/TTgblAZ . I got it when I went to a Catholic book convention in August. Right from the start she talks about cultivating stillness like her old Italian grandfather did. That to hear God, and to find out what path we should take in life and what our plans for the future should be, we need to learn stillness. Just being quiet. I think that more than anything can help bring down the walls that keep us from God. Like in the Old Testament, it was the whisper that God was in, not the violent wind. Thanks so much for quoting Fr. Dubay. He is my favorite.

    1. Marcy, it can be tough to practice stillness "out here" in the world, can't it?! The Teresa Tomeo book sounds wonderful - I'll be looking that one up. And Father Dubay is my favorite too! Thank you! Nancy

  2. The Cloistered Heart, how beautiful and what a good goal to aim for. Lately I have been feeling so distracted and rushed by daily life, that it seems like I can't be quiet enough to speak and listen to Jesus. BUT I WANT TO

  3. ....oooops, got cut off. I want to lead a life with my heart centered on the Trinity! Amen!

  4. Life can pull me "every which way," which is why I take this as a goal as well! Thanks so much.



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