Anyway, as much as possible, to keep my mind off my troubles, I’ve been working on reading and understanding The Golden Epistle, by William of St. Thierry. I have learned to appreciate the faith and wisdom with which William writes. I find, although this was written to a group of Carthusian novices living in a monastery circa the 12th century as a book on monastic life, William is giving a pretty good description of what the experience of conversion really means in the life of any Christian. Too, like any good monastic, William never forgets the practical necessities of every day life. For example, there’s this from the first chapter.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we're here on this earth for. We get wrapped up in the pressures of building a career, keeping a home together despite so many pressures aiming to fragment family life, that these become all consuming. How seldom do we stop and take a step back to look at ourselves and what’s going on in life; where we are and where we are going. We forget simply because we become too busy.
XXIII 87. “However, the serious and prudent soul is ready to undertake all work and is not distracted by it but rather finds it a means to greater recollection. It always keeps in sight not so much what it is doing as the purpose of its activity and so aims at the summit of all perfection. The more truly such an effort is made, the more fervently and the more faithfully is manual work done and all the energies of the body are brought into play.”
William calls us to prudence, to avoid distraction from the real purpose of our lives, not to build a successful career, but to “aim at the summit of all perfection.” He realizes it’s a task involving, even in a Carthusian monastery in the 12th century, effort, but he calls for fervent effort to keep our real purpose always before our eyes. The irony is, if we do this, if we put our effort in the right place, everything else becomes easier: “All the energies of the body are brought into play.” Take a few minutes today and get your bearings, you might be surprised at the results.