Tag Archives: Simple Living

St. Benedict’s in the Bronx: My “Urban Monastery”

There is lots of activity here around my new home in the southeast Bronx. A century ago, one would have found farmland and manors on this little peninsula of Throggs Neck, but those have long since been replaced with tightly packed bungalows and the odd apartment building. Half a century ago, no highway came close to here, but now it is framed by four, two of which lead to the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges to Long Island. On top of that, we are squarely situated right underneath the flight path to the airport, so if you are ever flying into LaGuardia, be sure to look out the window and wave as you descend, because chances are I will see your plane – I certainly will be hearing it!

A shot of my new home from the western side of I-95.
A shot of St. Benedict’s from the western side of I-95.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this corner of New York City, my new home stands on an island in the midst of interstates. St. Benedict’s Catholic Church was built by the Benedictine order several decades ago, and just as their monasteries overlook river valleys in quieter parts of the world, this one-time monastic home overlooks I-95. There are no longer monks living here (the Archdiocese of New York took it over for the Benedictines about 30 years ago), but I like to think of this piece of property as my own “urban monastery.” Just as monks used to work and pray here, so am I settling into a simple and peaceful routine of ora et labora.

A Typical Day

My day begins early: I like to wake up in time to do an hour of personal prayer before daily mass at 6:45 am, which is well attended by folks on their way to work. Although it is short, it is a brief moment of communion and prayer as we all prepare to take on our respective days. After being strengthened by the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we all disperse into the City, ready to take on the world.

After mass, I have breakfast in the rectory, during which I read the Wall Street Journal and catch up on the news. Following breakfast, I battle my way north on the Hutchison Parkway to St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. There is usually always some traffic congestion, so I have to give myself 45 minutes in order to make it on time for moral theology class.

After class, I study for an hour or two in Archbishop Corrigan Memorial Library before going to the refectory for lunch. Following lunch, I hit the road again to get back to the parish where I spend the afternoon working on projects, writing, and answering e-mails.

The three priests of the parish and I usually have dinner together around 6 pm. After dinner, I work a little longer before praying the rosary and vespers. Following vespers, I spend about and hour reading and studying before going to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 pm.

Being Happy with a Simple Life

While I am certainly taking advantage of being in the city to re-connect with friends, I am learning to love the normal days in my “urban monastery” as much as the days when I am out and about. My time in a religious order has helped me to appreciate a peaceful rhythm of life. Routine and stability are blessings since they free us from distractions and make our hearts more attentive to the promptings and inspirations of the Spirit.

This is one of the reasons why I have decided to keep things simple. As a writer, and as someone preparing to be a spiritual father and a leader of souls, I feel that I need to keep unnecessary noise out of my life. For that reason, I have decided not to play video games, and to only watch a little TV on the weekend. These things are not bad in themselves, I have found that I need to limit my information input. Less unnecessary noise frees me to focus on “the things above” and ponder what God wants me do, say, and write.

A Thought for the Week

We are not all called to be monks, but as Christians, we are called to be the light of the world. To truly shine forth, we need to set aside time to be quiet and let God shine on us. According to your personality and situation in life, try to set aside one or two quiet evenings. (Sunday night is always a good choice.) Instead of watching TV, pour yourself a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable, and read a book. If you are the more active type of person, find a quiet project that you can do: put together a puzzle or play an instrument. Whatever the case, the important thing is to create a moment when you can relax and be at peace. These are the moments when God speaks.

Five Steps to Peace: Step 5 – Stop Clinging

imageLast summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with confreres who live near San Jose, California. When I told a businessman friend that I would be spending several weeks in Silicon Valley, he got very excited and insisted that I visit Google: “Those tech companies are changing the world! Be proactive and meet people there!”

Having learned the importance  of networking during my New York days, I took his advice and started thinking of ways to get in touch with someone at Google. However, as I worked on solving the problem, a quiet thought from the Holy Spirit snuck into the midst of my calculations and plans: “You know what, why don’t you just let me handle this one?”

My instant reaction was a “clinging” one: “What! If I am going to make this happen, I need to be proactive. I can’t just assume that it will happen on its own.” But the thought kept coming back: “Just let go and trust in me.”

So that’s what I did. I let go and I left it in God’s hands.

The next day, while at lunch with my community, one of my confreres mentioned casually, “Hey, a new friend of mine at Google just invited me for a tour. Want to join me?”

Letting Go of Amateur Personal Plans

In my own life, I have noticed whenever I start getting tense and worried, without fail, it is because I am clinging onto something.

Exams are a perfect example. Here in Rome, the university exam system is different from  that in the States. Instead of packing all of the exams into a one or two-week period, they are spread out over the course of a month, thus allowing the students several days to prepare for each one. This system has its advantages and disadvantages: although it allows us more time to study, it lengthens the agony!

Studying during

Since my arrival here, I have absolutely dreaded the exam months of February and June, the worst being the June of 2011 when I was finishing my master’s degree in philosophy. I don’t think that I had ever been so stressed as I pored over books and waited in agony for the final hour-long oral exam.

Thankfully, since then, I have learned the importance of letting go. I gradually realized that the stress that accumulated during exams was entirely self-imposed and unnecessary: it resulted from an inordinate attachment to my grades. I had created in my mind a complicated personal plan that included good grades as a sine qua non. In my mind, this personal plan, upon which all of my future depended, would come crashing down if I were to finish exams with mediocre grades.

Although exams are still far from being my favorite time of the year, it has become clear to me that I can do them with greater peace. I have learned to not cling onto the idea of getting good grades and to let go of my personal plans. Letting go has made me leave everything to God, trusting that even if I do get bad grades, he has a plan that is much better than my own.

Letting the Expert Take Over

Grasping our own plans and projects is like trying to build a house on our own with neither experience nor expertise. If we were to go through life insisting that we know best and neglecting to let God arrange things, we would be like a foolish do-it-yourselfer who insists on designing his own home, even though an architect like Frank Lloyd Wright has offered to assist him free of charge.

God has something that we lack: infinite knowledge. From all of eternity, he has known each of us thoroughly; he has known everything that can happen to us and everything that will happen.

My very self you knew; My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret…Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. – Psalm 139:15-16

Living in a Grasping World

imageWe live in a world that encourages us to grasp and cling. Our celebrity-infatuated, materialistic society says that we are only worthy of notice if we meet its standards:  unless we are CEO-successful or model-good-looking, we don’t make the cut. We weary ourselves by clinging and grasping to these unrealistic expectations.

Life is so much more beautiful and peaceful when we free ourselves from the ruthless and superficial standards of the world and allow ourselves to be enveloped by the unconditional love of God our Father. There is nothing more frustrating than clinging to things that are beyond our control; there is nothing more liberating than leaving everything to God.

Letting Go as Christ Did

20140418-113223.jpgIt is providential that this post coincides with Holy Week. In his passion and death, Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate example of letting go. As Paul tells:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-7

Our Lord did not allow  himself  to be swayed in the least by worldly messianic expectations: from the temptations in the desert to his arrival in Jerusalem, he rejected all opportunities to grasp for power and prestige. He allowed himself to be humbled and humiliated to the extreme, as Isaiah prophesied:

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. – Isaiah 53:3

Yet Christ’s humiliation and complete detachment from self were the very conditions for His glorification:

Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. – Isaiah 52:13

Christ, by not limiting himself to human standards, opened himself to God’s Plan, which20140418-112248.jpg infinitely exceeded all expectations in the Resurrection. In the same way, if we let go of our human plans and projects, and allow God free rein, what he does with our lives will far surpass our wildest dreams.

Five Steps to Peace: Step 4 – Live Fully in the Present

c34df16eec044c5399f9d7e1aa3e7d95We all know that feeling: Sunday afternoon, the weekend is dwindling away, and only a few hours stand between you and work. The Friday-night relaxation that turned into Saturday-afternoon laziness has already faded into Sunday-evening ennui,  soon to become Monday-morning anxiety as you leave the happiness of weekend leisure to re-enter the unpleasantness of the work-week.

We all get that feeling every time something good is about to come to an end, be it the weekend, vacation, or the holiday season. It may be mollified when more enjoyable things are soon to come, but there will always be those moments when you realize that the good times won’t roll forever.

“Do not Worry about Tomorrow”

Even though we will always have to wake up to unpleasant realities (at least while on earth), the good news is that it doesn’t have to be so miserable when we do. The key is to stop worrying about the future and learn to live the present to the full.

463341065_52ab94963bWorry, depression, and anxiety do not come from God. Rather, they come from a disordered way of seeing things, that of thinking that we are the only ones in control.  If we were the only ones in control, then yes, we would have a good reason to be worried. But thankfully, that is not the case – God is the One who is really in charge.

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?…Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. – Matthew 6:26-27,34

“Do not worry about tomorrow.” These are words straight from the mouth of our Lord: do we truly believe them? How much time and energy do we waste either worrying about the future or re-hashing the past?  God has so many blessings that He wants to give us, but to receive them, we have to be where He is: in the present.

Waking up to Beauty

After an unusually cold and wet winter, it is finally spring in Rome. The sun is out, birds are chirping, lizards are sunbathing, and new life is all around. Not long ago, I was walking along the edge of the woods on our seminary grounds, engrossed in my own thoughts and problems, when I heard some commotion and high-pitched bleating coming from somewhere in the trees. Being someone who loves animals and nature, I thought about indulging my curiosity and investigating, but I decided against it telling myself that I had too much to do.

Our new seminary mascots!
Our new seminary mascots!

Later that day, a confrere who had walked by that same spot shortly afterwards told me that I had missed seeing a she-goat from the local flock who had just given birth to a kid. My friend had done what I was too distracted to do: he took the time to marvel at the beauty of God’s creatures and the miracle of new life.

This is what it means to live the present fully: instead of living in our heads with our thoughts and problems, we should live in the here and now, relishing the beauty that it has to offer. When we live in our heads, we isolate ourselves from the beauty that is all around us; but when we take the time to “smell the roses” and bask in the sunshine, we open ourselves to the shower of blessings that God is always pouring upon us.

Opening Ourselves to Infinite Blessings

There is no limit the blessings that God wants to give us, but we often hinder His generosity by being too distracted to receive it. His unlimited supply of gifts could be compared to having a generous and wealthy uncle who insists that you ask him for help whenever you need it. In fact, he does more than insist: he sets up an account for you and tells you continuously that it gives him great joy to share with you – all you have to do is make the withdrawal. How many of us would allow ourselves to be too distracted by our problems to avail ourselves of that generosity?

meadowIn the same way, but so much more, God wants to give to us and does give to us; all we have to do is open our eyes of faith and accept what he has to offer. God will take care of our future problems if we simply let go and focus on the ones at hand. Each day is bursting with blessings, but we have to live in the present to receive them.

Acts of trust in God’s blessings are essential to living in the present because there are always an infinity of “what-ifs” waiting to swarm our imaginations if we allow them. Most of these “what-ifs” are nothing more than energy-sapping variables that are simply beyond our control. To live in peace, we must learn to leave those variables in God’s hands and focus on the few that are within our limited spheres of influence, all of which can only be handled one at a time in the present.

prayer-at-work-300x208The next time you catch yourself getting wound up about everything that may go wrong, turn that moment of anxiety into an opportunity to open yourself to God’s blessings. Take a deep breath, make an act of trust in God (which can be as simple as saying, “Jesus, I trust in you”) and then, peacefully and calmly, return to the task at hand. You will be amazed at how much more smoothly your future will go if you leave it in God’s hands and live fully in the present.

Silence in the City: Finding Peace in a Noisy World

times-square-photo-sunsetFor the past several years, I have always lived in or near major cities. I can genuinely say that I enjoy city-life; as one who likes to write, I enjoy observing people and the environments in which they live. I also enjoy the many opportunities that our modern metropolises have to offer, from art exhibits and musical performances to architectural masterpieces and museums. Cities are like magnets for skillful people: they attract and possess huge concentrations of amazing human talent and the marvels that come with it.

The Sound of Silence

Needless to say, just as much as they are full of human ingenuity and invention, cities are saturated with noise. As a naturally introverted individual, I find that to survive city-life, I need to get out on a regular basis. As much as cities attract me, I also feel drawn to quiet and desolate places where you hear nothing but silence.

When I was working in New York, I always looked forward to visiting my family in Utah. On one occasion, after traveling from a parish near Times Square to our home near Salt Lake City, I put on my hiking boots as soon as I could and climbed nearby Lewis Peak, relishing the solitude and silence that was all the more peaceful in contrast to the noisiness of Manhattan.

At Spiral Jetty
At Spiral Jetty

One of my favorite places in Utah is on the northern end of the Great Salt Lake, a remote place known as Promontory Point.  To get there, one has to drive miles and miles on a dirt road through treeless ranch land until you reach the saline-saturated shores of the Salt Lake. At Promontory Point, one finds Spiral Jetty, an earthwork created by artist Robert Smithson out of mud, rocks, water, and precipitated salt crystals.

Even though the location is not easy to reach, it still daily attracts at least a handful of curious people who want to see the earthwork. When I go there, I park the car near Spiral Jetty but then walk away from it along the shore until I find a lonely, out-of-sight spot where I sit and bask in the silence. There is something special about being alone in a place where there is no other sign of humanity: for me, it is a privileged time to listen to the Spirit, to forget the worries and distractions of the world, and to remember God’s personal love for me.

Whether we physically live in a city or not, we all live in a virtual city. Thanks to our gadgets, we are never far from the all that our urbanized world has to offer. With just a click of the mouse or a tap on the app, we can deluge ourselves with an infinite amount of words written about anything and everything. Having access to such a smorgasbord can be intellectually distracting, emotionally overwhelming, and spiritually paralyzing.

The Beauty of Silence

Promontory Point

As spiritual beings, we are made for more: our hearts and minds tend towards Someone who made us for Himself, who has the capacity of satiating our every desire and giving us complete peace. The problem is that because He transcends us He is not immediately accessible to our reason, which is slowed down by its reliance on sensible information.

So, when given the choice either to reach out to our transcendent God or, say, to watch a movie or check Facebook, we tend to reach for the latter because it is easier to see and more immediately gratifying. However, if we take the time to discipline our senses a little and distance ourselves from the distractions of this info-saturated world that we inhabit, the experiences of God that result are indescribably so much more meaningful and beautiful.

Twitter and iPhones are great things, but sometimes it is healthy to take a break, in the way that a scientist closes himself in his laboratory or an artist retreats to his studio: to be truly creative and find personal fulfillment, we must find ways to distance ourselves from the constant hoopla and ballyhoo of the world that surrounds us. To be peaceful and happy, we must find silence in the city.

I think that Lent is all about taking this break. It is a beautiful opportunity to take a step back and focus on what is really important.

How to Find Silence and Peace This Lent

I recently read a blog post in which the author suggests somethingPraying Woman that he calls “input deprivation week”. The idea is to go a whole week without consuming unneeded information so as to focus on productivity. He challenges the reader to go seven entire days with no Facebook, no blogs, no books, no TV, no movies, no Reddit, no Twitter, and no talk radio. According to him, a week of dedicated input-deprivation is an amazing catalyst for creativity, so he advises that anyone doing it should always have a notebook handy to write down the numerous thoughts and inspirations that come.

I think that this suggestion is not only good for boosting personal productivity but also for improving one’s spiritual life. Every time we curb exterior stimuli, we create a calm and peaceful inner disposition that is conducive to listening to our Creator, to the only One who can give us total peace.

So here’s an idea for your Lent (which starts next WednesdayWoman-reading-a-book-on-sofa): deprive yourself of input! Do a personal input-deprivation week, or perhaps choose to limit your use of one or two forms of input until Easter. For example, you could give up TV and spend evenings reading instead, perhaps choosing books from among the classics of Western literature (check out Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime to get some ideas). Another idea: instead of turning on the radio every time you get into the car or popping in your earphones whenever you go out, try going around in silence. You will be amazed by how much God will take advantage of the quiet in your soul.

My Personal Commitment

imageLately, I have been feeling the Spirit moving me to simplify my life so that I can better listen to Him. This Lent, I have decided to translate this general movement of my soul into concrete action: I am going to go on input deprivation for the entire Lenten season. This may be a little ambitious, but I am going to give it a shot!

Since I am in the middle of studies, obviously I will have to keep reading the prescribed texts, but outside of that, I am going to commit myself to the following:

  • No extra-curricular books
  • No radio/no podcasts
  • No YouTube
  • No Facebook and no Instagram
  • No movies
  • No documentaries
  • No magazines or newspapers

So, what will I do with all of the extra time on my hands? I am going to leave that up to the Holy Spirit, but I am sure He has some adventures in store, as He always does. I will keep you posted!


Finding Peace in Your Desert

IMG_0068Four years ago, my daily life was significantly different from what it is now. Living in Westchester County, New York, I had a uniquely challenging but rewarding ministry that required me to be out and about with lots of people working in the world of non-profit development. I loved working in and around New York City, and I loved the folks I worked with. Even though I was just a seminarian, I had plenty of room to roam and everything that I needed to do my job: a laptop, a cell phone, a debit card, and a 2001 Chevy Impala.

The Party’s Over

In the summer of 2011, my assignment was changed: it was time to cross the Atlantic to finish my studies for the priesthood.  I gave the laptop and cell phone to my replacement, turned over the keys to the Impala, packed my bags, and headed to JFK Airport with a one-way ticket to endless classes and research papers. The party was over.

Living in Rome is awesome, but for a full-time student like myself,Studying-book it’s not vacation. After three years of life in the Big Apple, working everywhere from the Upper East Side to Wall Street; after regularly socializing with the successful and phenomenally talented individuals with whom New York is full; after forming some wonderful friendships with beautiful people just as excited as me about spreading the Good News; I suddenly found myself enclosed in a tiny room with a pile of philosophy books on my desk, swatting at mosquitoes and wondering why Italians don’t put screens on their windows.

Living Simply

Last week, I posted a reflection on the beauty of monastic life. I did so because at times my own life feels rather monkish, especially in comparison to the more active one that I had before coming back to studies.

In the tradition of religious life, my days are lived according to the10523323_683907181696359_2501294587655256400_o ancient monastic motto ora et labora: “pray and work”. Each day starts bright and early at 5:05 am, followed by morning offering with the community in the chapel, personal meditation, and community mass. After breakfast, we have 30 minutes of housework before going to the university for classes. We return at 12:15 for lunch followed by riposo (a 30-minute nap), which in turn is followed by an afternoon of study or work. Dinner is at 7:50 pm, after which we watch news for about 15 minutes before going to night prayers. We are usually in bed by 9:40 pm.

That’s it: simple and stable. I’ll be honest, such a spartan lifestyle can be challenging, especially coming from an exciting job in Manhattan where I regularly interacted with people and spoke in public.

During my first two years in Rome, I was so fully engrossed in the research for my master’s degree in philosophy that I would go weeks without leaving the house. Some afternoons, while praying my rosary on the roof of our four-story dormitory, I would catch myself longingly watching the planes taking off in the distance from Da Vinci Airport, wondering when I would ever be  flying back to the Land of the Free.

Living Simply for Something Better

Christ in the Desert – Ivan Kramskoi

Over the course my three and a half years here in my personal desert of books and research papers, I have come to realize that I can either yearn for the life I had, or I can fully embrace the one that I have now and make the best of it. I am here because I have professed a vow of obedience, and such a vow is a burden only when I make it so. It all depends on how I look at it: it can be seen either as a shackle or as a condition for greater freedom.

Before Christ began his public ministry, he too lived a simple and quiet life in Nazareth. For 30 years, he worked and prayed, silently preparing for the event that would forever change the course of history. Immediately before going public, he withdrew even more from  the world, walking into the desert for 40 days of intense fasting and prayer.

This is how I see these last few years of my training for the priesthood: it’s a final intense preparation, withdrawn from the world, for the event that will change my life forever – priestly ordination.

We All Have Our Deserts

Since in a few short years I will be preaching homilies on a regulardesert_orange_sands_w1 basis, I like to mine from my personal experiences lessons that can be shared with my future flock. From the one just recounted, I would share the following: embrace your state in life, no matter how much of a desert it may seem to be. The difficulties of your present state, no matter how grinding, are nothing more than a temporary preparation for something bigger and better.

The challenges and difficulties of my life as a student and seminarian pale in comparison to the difficulties that others go through. Some people I know are dealing with difficult marriages that leave them no respite; others face the daily struggle of living in an environment that is hostile to their faith; some are fighting chronic illnesses; others are struggling to find the right spouse or a good job.

I am light-years from being a spiritual master and I still have years before my ordination, but, drawing on the wisdom of the Church, I think that I can safely say that the trick to being happy is simply accepting where you are at in life. This does not mean resigning yourself to a life of suffering, but it means focusing on changing the things you can while leaving the rest up to God.

1638738In other words, live simply. Do not complicate your life by trying to force things that are beyond your control. Just let go, let God be God, and enjoy the amazing blessings that He has in store for you. He brings us through the desert only because on the others side there is a Promised Land that exceeds all of our wildest expectations.

Made for More

National-Geographic-Channel-Captures-Dodge-Appeal-of-Living-off-GridIn the Hoh rain forest on the Olympic peninsula of Washington State, there lives a man by the name of Mick Dodge. This Washington native, whose great-grandparents settled the terrain he now inhabits, took off his shoes twenty-five years ago, left the modern world, and walked into the wilderness. When asked how he manages to live the way he does, he gives a characteristically quirky response:

“My family has perfected the art of dodging civilizations for hundreds of years. All I have to do is follow my feet.”

Leaving Everything Behind

After watching a show about him on the National Geographic Channel, I found myself very intrigued by this forest dweller. I was fascinated by the lifestyle that he had embraced: he lives in a tree, doesn’t wear shoes, and brushes his teeth with a pine-cone. Talk about simplifying your life!

The episode I watched showed him looking for meat after going days without any protein. It was a lot of fun to watch how resourcefully he solved his problem, never losing his sense of humor nor his positive outlook despite failed fishing attempts and other setbacks. “Following his feet” (and tiding himself over with some squirmy grubs) he went to a roadside where he stashed some road kill and headed to the seashore. There, he used the dead meat as bait to catch some crabs, from which he made a hearty meal.

Learning about him, I was impressed as much by his austerity as I was by his personality.  One might think that someone with a lifestyle like his, cut off from civilization, would be somewhat of a curmudgeon – reclusive and suspicious. However, Mick is anything but that. His unbeatable optimism and idiosyncratic sense of humor make him seem like someone whom I would love to get to know.

Leaving Everything Behind for God

Mick’s hermetic lifestyle is nothing new. Although it may look like aescobar_1505800c novelty, it really is nothing more than a secular version of an ancient religious tradition. For centuries, Christians have been voluntarily renouncing the world to live in the wilderness. St. Anthony the Great (c. 251 – 356 AD – also known as the Father of Monasticism) was one of the first to leave everything and go into the desert to seek greater closeness to God. His life and intense ascetic practices became legendary, inspiring St. Athanasius to write The Life of Saint Anthony the Great, which in turn inspired a religious movement that eventually developed into great Christian monastic orders such as the Benedictines, Augustinians, and Trappists, all of which continue to this day.

Why is it that over the course of thousands of years, people have so radically changed their lives to live as hermits and monks? What is it that moves men and women to give up the comforts of human civilization? Even today, in a world that offers the possibility of instantaneous satisfaction of almost every human desire, people still leave it all behind: why?

“My heart is restless, Lord, until it rests in Thee.” – St. Augustine  

Imago DeiI think that it has something to do with human nature itself. We are such that we will never be fully satisfied by things: and this is something that makes us profoundly different from animals. My family back home has a pretty Welsh Corgi named Lucy. I have gotten to know her well and enjoy watching her antics. Lucy does not need much to be fully satisfied: with food, water, exercise, and a good belly rub, she is as happy as can be.

However, experience and history show us that it is not the same for humans: we are always striving for more, looking for something else. Material things are not enough to make us happy and satisfied: we seek and long for spiritual fulfillment. Every human heart has a deep longing, one that can only be satisfied by knowing that one is loved infinitely.

You are Made for God

Every person is capax Dei, “capable of God”: we were made for Him and have the capacity to know and love Him, even if we do not realize it.

This is why people leave the comforts of the modern world; and this is why more and more men and women are reacting against noisy and hyper-consumerist Western culture in search of a simpler and more meaningful life. That small voice that has driven men to seek the solitude of the wilderness for millennia still speaks deep down in the hearts of each one of us.

backgroundIt is voice that spoke to Moses from the burning bush; it is the whisper that overwhelmed Elijah; it is the call that challenged the Apostles. It speaks to each one of us, asking us to leave the world to one degree or another. In a myriad of ways, each one as unique as the person to whom it is directed, the voice continues to say:

I AM WHO AM…Come, follow me.