The monastic state adds to religious life something more absolute – separation from the world by retreat, which is called enclosure. The notion of enclosure carries something unusual, even anachronistic: it is somewhat difficult to imagine a monk living his life in the same geographic perimeter, in the heart of the same community, even dying after always leading the same way of life.
What does enclosure represent for the monk?
A geographic area, a community of human beings, and a very specific way of life, by which God has come to meet him, talked to his heart and invited him to lead with Him, there, a life of friendship without division, diversion or unfocusing. With enclosure, all the life and efforts of the monk focus on the search of this exchange with God, friend and spouse of his soul. A spiritual combat ground, enclosure protects the adventurer of God against the devil, who is fiercely opposed to life’s being totally offered to and turned towards God; against the mundane world that tries to capture the monk by its attractions or at least slow down his progress towards God; against himself, with the inconstant will which loses courage so easily when faced with spiritual effort, in this search of conditions of bare necessity.
In opening ourselves to the unique vertical dimension of life, enclosure sets right before our eyes the sole bounty that can fill our soul: God. We have already had a glimpse and a feel of His mystery when He touched our heart and called us to His service.