Excerpt on Solitude from Hearing God’s Voice
Talk given by M. Nadine
    
“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”     (Mt 6:6) 

 
One of the four pillars of contemplative prayer is the Pillar of Solitude.  There are many definitions of solitude.  No doubt you have your own concept of solitude.  The definition that I am going to use is the one I like best; that is, “Solitude is the furnace of transformation”(Henri J.M. Nouwen: The Way of the Heart).

There are primarily two things that happen in solitude.  Since it is a furnace, fire is there.  Of course, there is only one fire.  That is the fire of God’s Love, the fire of the Holy Spirit.  It is the fire that fell upon the 120 at Pentecost.  It is the fire that led the chosen ones through the desert by night.  It is a purifying fire that will purify and burn away all that is within us that is not God.  And, when the purification process has taken place and borne the fruit that God desires, then that same fire will still burn within us, but it will be sweet.  It will be pure love.  It will be union.

In Scripture we read about Jesus arising early in the morning.  Long before dawn He would leave the house and go off to a lonely place to pray.  Jesus taught us by His actions and when He prayed, He went into lonely places.  Sometimes the Scriptures will say, “He withdrew.”  We read about that in Matthew 14:13.  When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, it says, “He withdrew by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  Again, in Mark 1:45 we hear, “He stayed in desert places.  He preferred desert places.”
 
Why does He prefer desert places?  Perhaps we discover the answer to that question in another passage.  In John 4, the passage of the woman at the well, when His disciples came back and found Him there, Jesus tells them, “I am never alone.”  Is Jesus by His action and words giving us the reason for the lonely place, the solitary place?  He is telling us that there is Someone to encounter.  In the lonely places we too are never alone…we encounter God who is Love.
 
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."  (Mt 28:20)