What is it that is so inspiring about the monastery or convent life? Those men and women who live sheltered lives in remote out of the way places. Their lives seem totally useless to a world full of abundant trappings, so it seems for many. If one does not have the eyes to see, it appears a total waste of a person’s life.
There are those who do not understand the life but are drawn to these souls for what seems to be unknown reasons. What, one might ponder, is worth giving up everything in this world for a life of solitude and hard work? What is worth the effort and the sacrifices these men and women make? Are they merely running away from life or hiding from a past they would sooner wish to forget?
I too, pondered over these souls when I was young. For nothing in this life seemed to have an allure like it. You never forget the shock of finding out that there are people on this earth that count everything of this earth as nothing and look joyous in their trials and labors while separating themselves from the draw of the world and from their very nature as human beings.
Most people, I gather, take little notice of these men and women. They go about their lives in the real world and never give the religious life a thought. They fill their days striving for love, affection, money, honor or skills that might make their lives useful and fulfilling. It is the road we all follow, is it not?
Apparently not! The religious, if asked, might very well expound on the meaningfulness and excellence of the religious life led in seclusion. They might go into detail as to having found the real meaning in life. In short, they would counter that they are living in the Real World: a world that was created by God, held in existence by God, and which glorifies God. They suffer no delusions. It is our honor and our duty to live our lives for our Creator, to pray to Him for all our needs and unceasingly give praise to Him throughout the day and night. Their lives are ordered to their Lord and Savior as the only truly important activity that the human soul can perform – a total gift of themselves. They are ordered to their final end: an eternity of Love Itself.
Now if we were to take the time to evaluate who leads the better life, we might begin to see the futility of our lives lived in the world. Our goals and dreams are met and lost, good and evil comes and goes; and when all is said and done, it turns out to be vanity. It was much ado about nothing. Dust to dust. “Remember O man that thou art dust and to dust thou wilt return.”
So when ever asked about the courageous religious lives of those in the monastery or the convent, I simply remark that those are the people who chose to live in the Real World.