Years ago I found a holy card with a saint and her cat! I was intrigued that an animal had been a close companion and was shown with Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century German saint.
I have taken temporary care of a friend’s cat, Louis. For the cat’s well-being I live at his house about ten days and go to my work at the art studio during those days. Louis lets me know in very vocal ways if I have been gone too long for his satisfaction!
I find him to be unusually social for a cat and he often joins me on the couch where he sits close enough for human contact and for the frequent “petting” I give him. At other times he watches the back yard from an enclosed porch where he is vigilant to nature outdoors.
When I am praying and he is in view, I learn from Louis as Hildegard must have learned from her beloved cat. Louis has taught me to sit still for periods of time and be aware of what is going on around me. He also longs to go outside on a leash and lay in the warm sunshine. “Cat-nap” is a truth Louis enjoys and he frequently snoozes during the day.
He has good hygiene and cares how he looks with his clean soft coat of hair. He eats daintily with small bites and washes his face afterwards. Louis has an internal clock and wants his breakfast and supper at regular intervals. I know the Benedictines who live the rule of St. Benedict (6th century) have regular amounts of prayer, work and time enjoying community members. Louis may be a Benedictine cat and reminds me of the balance my life needs. Come to think of it, Hildegard was an early Benedictine nun and probably learned balance in her life from her cat!
by Sr. Karlyn Cauley, SDS