Letters to Jesus (Perspectives and Perceptions) -9
Regarding the communal versus individual approach to spirituality, Fenelon offers a key bit of advice: “Retire to pray whenever you can and live the rest of your day in love.”This expression appeals strongly to my own perception of a good approach to the spiritual life. Fenelon, in this pronouncement, seems to lay the heavier emphasis on an individual’s personal approach with private prayer, meditation, and contemplation; but along with the personal approach he does not seem to discount the importance of giving love in the shared contexts of each day.
I have written to You before that the morning is my favorite part of the day. The time I spend personally with You from 7:45 to 10:30 or 11:00 each morning is the most “looked-forward-to” part of my day. It’s also the easiest and most comfortable. But instead of denigrating it for that, I choose to think of it as a little foretaste of heaven. The rest of the day is spent, in great part, sharing life’s contexts with other people in various settings. This is often not so easy and can be uncomfortable. But it is in this part of the day that I am given the opportunity to put into action that which I reflect upon in the morning.
It is this combination of the individual and communal that seems to me the ideal of not only the monastic but also the secular, each in its own sphere. Even in the cloister with its silence and individual cells the whole community eats, worships, and works together. It is just this, I think, that offers the most appealing aspect of monasticism.