Today is the liturgical Memorial of Saint Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict. As we honor this holy woman, it also turns us to another holy woman. Julia Crotta, also known as Sister Nazarena, was a Camaldolese Benedictine recluse. Her story is told by Thomas Matus in the book titled, “Nazarena: an American Anchoress.” Easter was approaching, and for Nazarena, it would be her anniversary, twenty-one years since her call to solitude. And of that call, Nazarena approaching her anniversary wrote: “Now God is making me hear it louder than ever.” At the end of Lent in 1961, she expressed her joy in solitude in a letter to her abbess. She wrote what follows.
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My soul finds its place and feels holy peace only in solitude. Whenever I leave it, I feel restless and spiritually unable to breathe. Strange, but true! Perhaps Jesus permits me to feel this way in order to make it absolutely clear that He is calling me and wants me to cling to Him alone in the strictest solitude.
I do so love my religious family – now that everything is settled, I want to pray more and better for you. I always feel ashamed when I offer my poor prayers! But I unite them with the merits of Jesus and thus I hope they will not be altogether useless. I am glad I have no knowledge of any person or event, outside of what is strictly necessary for me to know. Please do me this kindness, that all my mind and soul may be filled with God and souls, without any particular knowledge of them. I shall better avoid distractions if I know nothing about persons or events. In any case I feel I have to do this, whether I want to or not. When the Lord wants certain things, He gives you no rest until He has them!