Ever since I was a youngster, I remember being fascinated by monasticism. I remember spending my lunch time in high school looking at books that had pictures of monasteries and monks. These strange and yet beautiful places where men lived such different lives fascinated me. Even though I did not become a monk, the desire for the solitude of monastic life has never left me. Over the years I discovered a possible reason behind my monastic fascination. In Catholic Spirituality we are reminded that every Christian is called to live a form of interior monasticism, or, as Ronald Rolheiser puts it, experiencing life as a contemplative. A well-known story is told of a young man’s encounter with an old monk and asking him: “I too want to be saved. How can I do it?” The monk responds: “There is only one way: ASCENT. To climb a series of steps. From the full stomach to hunger, from the slaked throat to thirst, from joy to suffering. God sits at the summit of hunger, thirst, and suffering; the devil sits at the summit of a comfortable life. Choose!” As a priest I sometimes wonder if my life has become too comfortable for true ascent. And then I remember that I can still choose, I can still grow, I can still experience monasticism of everyday life.
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma