In the monastery we live in a kind of in-between place; a place where the urgency of God’s just demands on us is always coupled with the ample grace of His ever-present mercy. And if Christ Jesus calls us so urgently to repent, to a complete change of heart, it is because He longs to be Mercy for us, to have access to our broken hearts, and be compassionate to us. Christ Jesus our Lord is constantly turning toward us in love and mercy. And He asks us to do likewise- to keep turning to Him and to one another in love and mercy and reconciliation over and over again.
This is what we have vowed to do by our conversatio as monks- to continually allow our hearts to be broken open. Perhaps this is why Saint Benedict will remind the monk to keep death always before his eyes. As monks, we are meant to live on the edge, in a place of urgency that perhaps many will only experience in the wake of horrible tragedy or on their deathbeds, a place where all we have to depend on is God’s mercy. This is a place where there is nothing else left but Him.
Image from the series of prints known as the Miserere by Georges Rouault (1871-1958).