Benedict Williamson, O.Ss.S.
The Order of the Most Holy Savior is contemplative.
What does that mean? Well, it means that the monks and
nuns are called to be, in a very special way, the
lovers of Jesus, and so their life is one of
solitude, the most essential characteristic of the
contemplative. Lovers want solitude above all things,
they want to be alone with their love, and so the
contemplative wants to be alone with his Love, too.
Contemplation is the soul's beholding, with the eyes
of love, Jesus her lover. So there are no outward
works in the contemplative life, it is a life of
solitude and prayer.
Without solitude there is no contemplation.
Then there is the solemn worship of Jesus in the
Choir, and with the Brigittines, the Adoration of
Jesus on the Altar Throne.
To the one who looks on the mere outside of things has
no understanding of the reality of them, this
life seems useless, and they exclaim: "To what
purposes is this waste?" They cannot understand how,
when life is opening with all its promises before
them, souls can leave everything and "shut themselves
up" so completely from all that is their eyes seems
delightful and satisfying.
The cloister is only for lovers in
whose hearts has come the answering response to the
love of Jesus. He has drawn them by the restless power
of His Divine Love, and they come to give Him
everything; and they must give everything because they
love. Only the lover can give all.
The life of the cloister is austere, self-renouncing,
the more austere, the happier they who dwell there.
Love delights in sacrifice and immolation to the one
loved, so the more complete the renunciation, the
The soul caught up in the love of Jesus has no
thought, no desire, no wish for anything save such
things as will please Him she loves. Love is only
understood by love. To those who are not lovers, the
words and actions of lovers seem extravagant, foolish,
incomprehensible, but they are not so to the lovers.
It takes love to understand love. So to the cold and
calculating, the words and acts of the lovers of Jesus
are unintelligible. They have never felt love's heat,
and cannot understand its drawing power.
Love unites, lovers desire union so much, they would
pass into each other, if they could, but natural
love has limits beyond which it cannot pass.
Its union can only reach a certain point, beyond which
t cannot go. What is denied to human love is granted
to Supernatural Love, for the end of the contemplative
life is the passing of the soul into Jesus, so that
she becomes one with Him and is lifted up into the
participation of His Divine Nature Itself. The soul
and Jesus are one; they have passed into each other;
the end which love desires is attained, two have
When the soul has passed into Jesus she is a new
creation, she is acting with His power, she has all
His Nature to draw upon; there is no limit to what she
can do because there is no limit to what He can do.
The apostolate of the cloister transcends that of all
mere external activities. The heart of the
contemplative is the heart of an apostle; it thrills
with eager longing for every interest of the Heart
Jesus. The soul has no interests other than those of
her lover. She sees everything with His seeing,
desires all that He desires, and has His compassion
for the multitude and His eager longing for their
salvation. Every interest of the Heart of her Love is
hers. She is dead to all save Him alone, Who has
called her; she is held fast in the embrace of
Everlasting Love. What can she say except: "My Love, I
want all You want, I have no will save yours."
That is the life of contemplation, the life lived in
the love of Jesus. The more perfect the oneing of the
soul with Jesus, the more prevailing the
contemplative's power. The contemplative reaches out
over all the world, no barrier can resist the power of
his prayer, for his prayer is the prayer of Jesus, and
nothing can resist Him.
External activity can, at most, only influence a
comparative small circle, while the contemplative
embraces the world in his apostolate.
And all the while love grows. Jesus is coming and
every coming seems new, for He is ever coming, until
at last love grows so strong that the slender thread
of life is broken, and love comes to Love's perfect
consummation in Heaven.