As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (1 John 2:27,28, nasb)
We have spent a few years investigating the divine peculiarities of a modern, monastic lifestyle, and some of us have been practicing those holy oddments, patching together what parts of a monastic mantle we have been able to reclaim in our workaday world. Faithful in thanksgiving, devoted to prayer and ever deepening intercession, delighting in worship and the manifest Nearness of God, we are not cloistered nuns, outwardly, but we are enclosed in Christ. We are learning to abide in Him as He abides in us, the true abbatial life. We are bona fide monastics, taking to heart the ancient meaning of the word, that every born again man and woman stands monolithically before God, each with a holy vocation that cannot be perfectly filled by any other.
We have come to trust that our piecework might be, to the Lord, a beautiful labor of love, for our hearts have found great delight in this glorious Opus Dei. For some of us, the world is beginning to have to fit into our Divine Office, more than it once was, the other way around.
This year we are seeking to make our devotional lives as mighty and effectual as they have been majestic . . . the full monastic monty, I was about to write, but being a conscientious Abbess, I Googled The Full Monty and learned something I didn’t know. It was a movie about six men, unemployed steel workers, who decide to form a strip act to out-distance all others, and perhaps you can imagine how they plan to make that happen. Nothing, in fact, was to be left to the imagination.
Well, thought I, better choose a different expression – but wait! First of all, the Urban Dictionary defines “the full monty” as “the whole thing” or “going the whole way,” and that is completely apt for us. What’s more, it will require a nakedness of soul before God to see this project through. We are never crude, but here is a colorful adaptation we won’t soon forget! Don’t rent the movie, just be prepared to part with those fig leaves that haven’t covered as well as we thought. “Too busy, too weak, too old, too young, too wounded, too many failures.”
As to lives “mighty and effectual” inside these cyber walls, consider the scores of Scriptural admonitions toward preparedness and power: “Watch and pray!” “Be steadfast, immovable!” “Continue in prayer!” “Taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ!” (I love this one …) “Casting down … every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God!” “Put on the full armor of God … we wrestle against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness … !” “… understand this, if the owner of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch … !” “Be ready!” “Pray without ceasing!” “Rejoice always!”
… and these are but a few.
We are in this Abbey, and we are glad. Now let it become a barracks for those who are not at liberty to go on liberty! We are not on parade duty, splendid as that may be to spectators. This is a covert operation to bring out many souls into the protection of the Gospel of Christ now, in what time remains, actually behaving in accordance with the shortness of time. If we live into our eighties or nineties, it is hardly time enough to spend in this rescue attempt. Of the millions around us that are lost in darkness, dozens and hundreds are to us a special assignment. Of those that have come to faith in Christ but remain prisoners of war, trapped and crouching in spiritual huts with no more room to maneuver than their fears afford, many await the marshalling of our faith in compassion and intercession, that they may once again see the light of day.
This disciplined life, the choices that we make that have kept us enclosed and enabled us to be given to worship and prayer, is its own reward in great measure, but we are numbered among those who bear the burdens of others and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) It has never been enough to enjoy the stained glass windows and the marble statuary, and even our own Heart’s Desire leads us forth to battle. We are as militant as we are monastic.
If these words are, if this ideal is to you a battle cry, two steps forward. We will all have to count upon the Spirit of Counsel and Might to get us where we need to go, to clothe us from on high, to teach our hands to war, to set before us a table in the presence of our enemies. This we know, He won’t fail to equip us for the conflict, perhaps the last great conflict of the ages, and certainly the one for which we were born and brought forth in Christ Jesus. He stands even now at the head of an army of warriors, brave and true … and triumphant.
photo by Kim Trainer, Wikipedia, by permission
Hanoverian barrack block from the reign of George III, built 1796-99 to accommodate an infantry battalion of 600 officers and men during the war with Revolutionary France.