We build a safe world around ourselves, but it’s not until we let go of the eyes of others that we can be born in God in the silence and solitude of the ‘desert’. In this way, we come to see the Reality beyond reality. Every moment, we receive our life out of God’s hand. The experience of His love is the starting point that never loses its hold on us. Wounded by this love, we keep returning to this beginning. This beginning is not in the past, but happens now. This experience keeps touching us on a deeper level and is always new.
Opening up to God
Desert fathers and mothers
Kingdom of Heaven
Path of denuding
Struggle with God
Beyond the boundary
Purity of heart
We are not in the center of the circle. The monk has to endure the silence of the desert, in order to fall silent for himself. In this silence, he is broken open for the acknowledgment of his own nothingness in God. This is called ‘purity of heart’. The life of the desert monk is directed towards shedding all the voices that bind him to his self-willful existence. He wants to open his eyes and ears for the realization that his entire existence is hidden in God. With Paul, he can then say: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).
In order to live with God in simplicity, in 2015 the Cistercian monks once again settled on Schiermonnikoog.
Being a monk is the concrete way to spend a lifetime following Christ. In Christ, there is nothing that separates us from God. In 1098, a group of monks left the abbey of Molesme to seek God in solitude and poverty. They settled in a clearing in the forest of Citeaux. In order to prevent the peace among them foundering in the future, they set down in the Charter of Love (Carta Caritatis) how the great Love would spiritually weld the monks together in an unbreakable way.
Rhythm of life
Rhythm of prayer
Spirit of Love
In 2016, a few Carmelites joined in this search for religious life in the twenty-first century, in collaboration with the Cistercian monks.
The two traditions fit in with one another seamlessly as different perspectives on the one life in Christ or God. Of old, they share the one school of Love as their source of inspiration. Both traditions recognize the desert as the place of God’s presence without anything to hold on to. In the Rule of Carmel and its tradition, the contemplative attitude to life is central. In whatever way one gives shape to the Carmel, its form is always at the service of the relationship with God.
At the Spring
Drinking in God’s word
Observance Ad Montem
Silence before God
School of Love
“Love’s flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” (Song of Solomon 8: 6-7)
Love is passion. In it, God’s own being comes to light. For this reason, it is sacred and we should follow its divine call in everything. In the flashing fire of the beginning that isn’t difficult, but when it calms down and we have to take up our own life again, it often becomes buried under many other voices that also make themselves heard. And yet, we will never succeed in silencing love. It need only become quiet in us, and we will once again come in contact with it. This is indeed what makes silence so essential in love. Only those who truly fall silent for themselves can open up to the divine voice of love in their own being. In this way, love is a school. By following its Voice to the end, we get to know love from within.
The path of desire
Losing ourselves in
The new affective interest of their times is related to the expressiveness and amorous imagery of the Song of Solomon. Ancient commentaries by Origen, translated into Latin, serve as inspiration. Both the eighty-six Sermons on the Song of Songs by Bernard and the Commentary on the Song of Songs by William of Saint-Thierry become highlights of the mystical literature of the West. 1 Quotation of Guerric Aerden.
Being clothed with God
House of Love
The more we get to know ourselves, the more we realize that we remain a great mystery to ourselves. We are unable to fathom ourselves and remain in search of who we truly are (in God) as long as we live. For this reason, we need dialogue partners, people who have preceded us on this path. One’s choice is deeply personal and often based on intuition. In listening to them, we gradually discover what can nourish our inspiration. They turn out to help us in our quest to decipher the mystery of our life. On this path of discovery, authors from the mystical tradition have increasingly become indispensable teachers for us. They liberate us from our diffidence in surrendering to the depth of the relationship with God.
These authors evoke recognition and give words to our own experiences. We need not identify with them, but in reading they lead us, unnoticed, to the deeper level of our being that always remains hidden below the horizon. Beyond the content of the text and beyond our own thoughts, they open us for our intangible relationship with God. Without fear, we can then surrender to this and entrust ourselves to the eyes of God who gazes us forth in our truth.