Monday, June 3, 2013
The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows-A Book Review
I had never heard of Delores Hart until Lisa Wheeler from Carmel Communications offered me the opportunity to read and review the book, The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows, by Mother Delores Hart, O.S.B. and Richard DeNeut, about how a beautiful actress gave up a life of fame and riches, that of a Hollywood and Broadway actress, to completely devote herself to Christ as a cloistered Benedictine nun.
The idea of a woman giving up earthy wealth and fame, letting go of her passion for the one thing in life that she loved and in which she excelled, acting, to completely devote herself to God, tucked away in a cloistered convent, was very intriguing to me, and so I eagerly agreed to read and review The Ear of the Heart.
The book is quite lengthy at over 400 pages and I felt that a lot of the details could have been omitted without losing any of the flavor of this inspiring story. The anecdotes of the many famous people who impacted her life was interesting, but I was most intrigued by the glimpes of how God Himself was making an impact on this young woman. The fact that Delores, while not raised Catholic, attended Catholic Schools and converted at a very young age, and made her own way to weekly Mass without her family, was quite remarkable. I was most captivated by the details of how God was calling Mother Delores' to monastic life at Regina Laudis Monastery, for which she would ultimately eschew the Hollywood lifestyle and the promise of marriage, to give herself entirely over to God in a drastic entry into cloistered life.
As the story moved to Mother Delores' entry into Regina Laudis Monastery, I became more completely engrossed. To get an inside view of monastic life-the work, the liturgy of the hours, the relationships between the sisters, and the power of obedience-was delightfully eye-opening. I was moved by the fact that she cried herself to sleep every night for the first three years, and although others with whom she entered the monastery had left, Mother Delores stayed and worked through the many and varied challenges of monastic life with the help of God.
Some quotes that particularly captivated me were:
"Mother Dorcas Roselund, in describing the pitfalls of monastic life, summed it up another way. A gastroenterologist before she entered Regina Laudis, she is now the community's baker. Life in the monastery is "the new martyrdom," she said. "They used to throw Christians to the lions. Now they make us live together."
"Here were women with courage to follow an invisible love in a coffin of seclusion from the world. They follow with no obvious support to the brink of the unknown, there to set fire to a perpetual lamp of love."
"Our daily schedule is never interrupted. Work has to be done. Animals have to be fed. We have to stay here and pray and believe that we can help by doing so. It requires discipline and clarity about what your mission is and where your body needs to be, where it can do the most good."
I found The Ear of the Heart, An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows to be an intense look into the life of a very human woman striving for holiness by giving up all that she loved and all that she could have achieved in the world, to use her many gifts for the glory of God, and in doing so, found a joy beyond human comprehension. It was an uplifting read!
The Ear of the Heart is available through Ignatius Press.