I found this in today’s selection from A Year with Thomas Merton, a book of daily readings taken from his journals:
“Father Gabriel Sweeney, the little white-haired Passionist who is in the novitiate, who asked to leave before Easter, and was dissuaded by Reverend Father, stands with a piteous expression in the novitiate library reading Relax and Live. Sooner or later they come to that.”
“Sooner or later they come to that.” I think that’s a wonderful line; learning to live in a Trappist monastery can’t be an easy thing, especially for someone who comes to it later in life. I can imagine it leading to a moment of despair when you’re just trying to get through to the next hour or the next day, just trying to accept the process and come out the other end.
I’m sure most of us have those moments; you don’t have to be a Trappist novice to have some idea of what Father must have been going through. I think it helps at such times to remember the first words of Benedict’s Rule – “listen carefully my child!” In the end, I think, this is what Fr. Gabriel came to when he opened his book: Relax and Live, the realization that sometimes all you can do is just sit with Jesus and let Him guide you to the next thing, trying to be attentive to His words at that moment, listening and never losing heart.