Jesus needs souls who listen to him in silence.
Saint Rafael Arnaiz
Virtual Discernment Retreat April 17 & 18, 2021
One of my favorite stories of the dessert fathers goes this way:
Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: “Why not become fire?”
Today we celebrate in our Order the feast of Saint Rafael Arnáiz (1911-1938). Rafael has an unusual story as a Trappist monk. He was never able to make religious vows, but he embodied to perfection the monastic spirit of our first fathers in the desert. These are a few of his words to his aunt María. They are also directed to you if like him you don’t want to settle for less in your love for God. Blessings on the Feast of Saint Rafael Arnáiz!
Don’t let the storms and squalls trouble you. You have Mary, don’t you? . . . Of course, it would be easier to lead a calm life, never offending God, a life without complications as you’d say . . . But do you have any now? . . . Is loving God that complicated? . . . Please, little sister. How could we lead calm lives, possessing what we possess? . . . It would be impossible . . . We can’t let our love for God sit still . . . More, always . . . always more. We must never abandon the fight, even if it’s difficult . . . The day will come when we can truly possess that still, calm love . . . But on that day, we’ll be in heaven. In the meantime, let’s not seek out calmness. Let’s never stop. Let’s keep moving forward, fighting against ourselves in order to banish that “self” who does us so much harm . . .
Let us love God more and more, always . . . Let us not settle for less. And if one day we catch fire . . . isn’t that what we are looking for?
(From Saint Rafael Arnáiz´s Collected Works, translated by Catherine Addington)