Viewing a Wrentham documentary in the novitiate the other day, we heard Mother Maureen affirm that Cistercian life is one hundred percent community and one hundred percent solitude. This seemingly contradictory statement finds an echo in today’s gospel where we read of Jesus praying in solitude and the disciples were with him. Now, if we remain with a dictionary definition of solitude, namely, the state of being alone, then these statements make little sense. However, if solitude is understood as that “aloneness” established by excluding from our lives all that prevents our total union with God and one another, then, solitude is something that can be shared with a multitude of likeminded brothers and sisters. Indeed, our communal Cistercian life exists precisely to create and maintain this solitude and to invite others into it. Through the intercession of Saint Vincent de Paul may we be strengthened in our resolve to create this sacred solitude that is nothing less than a foretaste of heaven.