Here is an interview Abba Willie gave to What is Enlightenment Magazine in 2000:
WIE: Father McNamara, you are a Carmelite monk, a contemplative in one of the most respected monastic traditions in the world. What inspired you to renounce worldly life and set your feet to the path of asceticism and solitude?
FR. WILLIAM MCNAMARA: The original motive, affirmed and reconfirmed more passionately and intensely over the years, was and is a desire for the fullness of life. In order to be prepared for and receptive to that onslaught of life and love that the Creator provides for us in himself and through everything that is connected with him (because God is not a separate God, he is distinct and transcendental but not separate) one has to become pure, one has to become empty, one has to become responsive, one has to become alive and alert to all the possibilities of living. I wanted that fullness of life and I didn’t want to become halfhearted. I didn’t want to get caught in half-truths. I didn’t want to be stymied or seduced by mediocrity, by pseudo-events rather than events. I wanted the whole thing. I wanted utter reality. I wanted the ultimate. So I had to renounce whatever seemed to me to be less than real.
WIE: What did you see as being less than real?
WM: I found most communication an impediment to communion. We communicate so much—a veritable Vesuvius of verbiage—that we don’t hear the Word itself. The truth escapes us. I think that one of the worst pollutions in the world is verbal pollution.
So I didn’t want to be choked by verbal pollution, by a shallow, empty, febrile kind of talk. I wanted a life that was dominated by and permeated by silence. And then, out of that matrix of silence, I hoped that the deeper words would come, the primordial words. But the only words that would be worthwhile would be those which are connected with the original Word, the Word of God, the Word that became flesh.
Another thing would be the way reality escapes us, precisely because we are in such a hurry. We are in a stampede almost constantly. There’s no time to think, there’s no time to love, there’s no time to be. We’re driven to do, do, do at a rather shallow, superficial level, and that prevents us from being, which is most important. As Lao Tzu said, “The most important thing to do is to be.”
So that would be another aspect of the search for truth, the search for the Ultimate. Again, it’s communion rather than communication. If communication sets the stage for communion, that’s wonderful communication. If it doesn’t, it’s useless. The big thing that every human being is striving for is communion. And if that is not experienced on all levels—communion with God, communion with human beings, communion with animals, vegetables, minerals, the earth—then we experience the terrible affliction of loneliness and isolation. That’s what is dominating this modern society. Everyone’s lonely, everyone’s isolated. So we need time to be, we need enough silence to be, we need enough solitude to be, we need enough good communion with others to be.
To read more, visit the What Is Enlightenment? website here.