"My child, the soul that is detached from the world and all that occupies the world lives truly happy days in solitude. Its only concern is with God, as though it is alone on earth with Him.Mary speaks, The Advantages of Solitude, from The Imitation of Mary by Alexander De Rouville
In solitude the spirit is always recollected so that it may hear the Lord's voice, and nothing can interrupt the heart's own voice as it constantly speaks to God."
I have been thinking a great deal these days about St. John the Baptist and St. Maximilian Kolbe, and these words from The Imitation of Mary ring loud and clear!
Both men were faced with a lonely and inhumane imprisonment. St. John the Baptist was captured and thrown into a cell before he was finally beheaded at the request of a young, narcissistic girl. St. Maximilian Kolbe was taken to the Nazi's Auschwitz. It was there he requested to be put into solitary confinement, underground without food, clothing, water, or warmth. He did this to save another man. But his selflessness and acts of kindness didn't stop there.
Both men felt the utter joy of Christ while surrounded by hard, cold walls. St. John the Baptist sent out his disciples to ask Jesus if he was indeed the anointed one. Christ sent them back with instructions to tell John exactly what it was they were witnessing. They were John's eyes and ears. And when John heard their news, he was beyond joy and thanksgiving. His heart was bound to Christ in complete peace, despite his earthly surroundings and his forthcoming execution.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was also bound to Christ, and he found a way to share the joy with the other men and women forced into the horrific conditions of their confinements. While spending every hour in cold darkness, slowly withering away from severe hunger and thirst, he arranged daily prayers and hymns among the dying prisoners and practiced his duties as a priest to help the others face their death with hope and the eager anticipation of meeting their Lord. Even though they could not see one another and were surrounded by cold and wet stone walls, they developed a community of faith. The prison guards, who had the gruesome task of checking in to see if there were any bodies to collect, fell in love with the priest, and one even testified to help the process of his canonization.
What was it about these two men? I'm sure there are many, many more stories that are similar--prisoners who lived in unthinkable conditions yet lived in joy. (Fr. Walter Cisek is another. He writes about it in With God in Russia.)
In their solidarity, they turned their ears to the voice of God, and in Him they found the peace and love that completely filled their souls with the freedom of Heaven. If God can come to them in these moments, then we should know He comes to us in our comfortable surrounds.
There is so much more to this! But these are my thoughts for today.
Take a few moments of solitude with God. If you find that you can't settle your mind, then take all your thoughts to Him. Let him live with you in your thoughts. Peace will come. The door to each of our hearts opens only from inside. You will need to unlatch it so Christ can come in. He would be delighted to see you.
To Christ through Mary.