I have been corresponding with a Carthusian–a monk of Parkminster–about some work. A letter from him came the other day, with a couple of pamphlets, including Umbratilem in Latin and English. The Carthusians seem to have no hesitation in declaring that infused contemplation is the normal end of the contemplative vocation. That is a point which, it seems to me, should be made clear. The contemplative life is not just a complex system of "exercises" which the monks go through in order to pile up merits. God has brought us to the monastery to reveal Himself to us, although it may only be in a very intangible and obscure way. "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and manifest myself to him. . . . My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him."
Perhaps not everyone in the monastery will arrive at a real recognition of this intimate presence of God: but I hardly think it possible that God would allow men to devote themselves entirely to seeking Him without letting them in some way or other find Him. I think He wants many of us to find Him and realize Who it is that we have found. "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and the prophets did write: Jesus, the son of Joseph, of Nazareth."
Father Nathaniel, a very young priest who is infirmarian because he has been ill, preached in Chapter. It was a good sermon, all about the "night of the senses." In fact, it was the most intelligent sermon I have heard on that kind of topic since I came here. The monks usually preach well enough on trials and sufferings and abandonment. All that is quite well understood. But
trials in connection with contemplative prayer are not so well understood.
The little dogwood tree that was just planted in the garden is now in full bloom. This evening, after meditation, a hummingbird got caught in the cloister and was terrified of the monks walking in procession to the refectory for supper. Two candles are burning by the relic of Saint Robert's finger bone. In the refectory they are reading the life of some mystic whose name I cannot catch. Meanwhile I am reading Saint Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews: "Let us go forth therefore to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach, for we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one which is to come. By Him, Jesus, let us therefore offer sacrifice of praise always to God. . . ." "Laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking to Jesus the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. . . ."
We had a moral theology exam and then my chest was X-rayed. The mystic in the refectory turns out to be the Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa. I had never heard of her. She is eighteenth century. She started the Redemptorist nuns–contemplatives.