From the Blog of Ronald Rolheiser
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
He is a community-builder, lecturer and writer. His books are popular throughout the English-speaking world and his weekly column is carried by more than seventy newspapers worldwide.
Lessons from The Monastic Cell.
Monks have secrets worth knowing. Here’s some advice from the Desert Fathers: Go to your cell and your cell will teach you everything you need to know.
On the surface these counsels are directed at monks and cell refers to the private room of a monk, with its small single cot, its single chair, its writing desk, its small basin or sink, and its kneeler.
What can this possibly say to someone who is not a monk or contemplative nun?
Cell, as referred to here, is a metaphor, an image, a place inside of life, rather than someone’s private bedroom. Cell refers to duty, vocation, and commitment.
Go to your cell and your cell will teach you everything you need to know: Stay inside of your vocation, inside of your commitments, inside your legitimate conscriptive duties, inside of your church, inside of your family, and they will teach you where life is found and what love means.
There’s a rich spirituality in these principles: Stay inside your commitments, be faithful, your place of work is a seminary, your work is a sacrament, your family is a monastery, your home is a sanctuary, stay inside of them, don’t betray them, learn what they are teaching you without constantly looking for life is elsewhere and without constantly believing that God is elsewhere.
What we have committed ourselves to constitutes a monastic cell. When we are faithful to that, namely, to the duties that come to us from our personal relationships and our place of work, we learn life’s lessons by osmosis.
We are all monks, and it matters not whether we are in a monastery or are in the world as spouses, parents, friends, ministers in the church, teachers, doctors, nurses, laborers, artisans, social workers, bankers, economic advisors, salespersons, politicians, lawyers, mental health workers, contractors, or retirees.
Each of us has our cell and that cell can teach us what we need to know.