Opportunities like this prayer week give us time for solitude. Christian solitude is simply spending time alone with God. It has great value. In a world that does not value physical solitude and isolation from others, Christian solitude is essential to our Marianist life. There are, however, some valuable dynamics that occur as we make the conscious decision to spend time alone with God. Remarkably, solitude allows us to develop greater unity, deeper compassion, and renewed perspective.
Thomas Merton who is perhaps the most famous monk and spiritual writer of the twentieth century has offered us some insight into Christian solitude. As a young Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani, he increasingly felt the need for solitude. After much difficulty and testing, he eventually lived as a hermit near his monastery. Merton's experience of solitude demonstrates this paradoxical truth: The journey into greater and greater solitude increasingly unites the heart and soul to all peoples, especially those who are poor and most in need.
During Merton's life he made a shift from solitude for monks to solitude for laity,
"Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. ... For he cannot go on happily for long, unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of this own true soul."
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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
"We are dealing with a jealous God, who will not share our souls with anyone else, since he had no associate when creating us or when redeeming us: the extent of his rights is the foundation of his jealousy"
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade