11 September 2007

Solus Cum Solo

"Alone with the Alone.” It’s one of my favorite phrases used by John Henry Cardinal Newman, referring to his relationship with God as a face-to-face encounter that none should come between. As a young and lonely man at Oriel College, he was once greeted on a solitary stroll by Edward Copleston, who, with a gentlemanly bow, said, Numquam minus solus quam cum solus.* Solitude, many saints have learned, is where one best finds God, and solitude cannot be had without silence.

No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. --The Imitation of Christ, Ch. 20

For all my talkativeness here, in person I have always loved quiet and solitude. (I’m reminded of Russell Kirk, a prolific writer, who was described in person to be as dull as a turtle.) In fact, my reticence has frequently been misconstrued as lack of friendliness, when in fact I’ve simply never mastered the art of chitchat. (A diet in my youth of Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, notorious depressives, hasn’t helped, either.) One of the reasons I am so drawn to Carmelite spirituality is the inner silence it fosters, pregnant with God’s love.

Take silence, for example, what good it does to the soul, what failures in charity it prevents, and so many other troubles of all kinds. --St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Silence is a virtue to be continually sought--and so, dear readers, the next several weeks shall provide opportunities to exercise this virtue (more by force than by fancy) as the family takes to the skies toward La France, the eldest daughter of the Church, whose saintly offspring include Joan of Arc, Vincent de Paul, Louis de Montfort, Jean Vianney, Catherine Labouré, Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and too many others to name here. I’m not sure how long it will be before we are settled into our place and our internet is up and running, so, my dear friends, farewell for now. We'll see you again from across the pond. A tout à l’heure!

Bobby Darrin sends us off.

*Never less alone than when alone