Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chapter 5: Monastic obedience (paragraphs 1-3)


The first step on the way to humility is to obey an order without delaying for a moment. That is a response which comes easily to those who hold nothing dearer than Christ himself. (From para. 1 of Ch. 5 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

If my "abbess" is the inner teacher, or God speaking to me through others, Benedict's injunction could sometimes lead me, not to obedience, but to impulsivity or confusion. This is especially true if my ego is in overdrive, and my discernment isn't clear. But "holding nothing dearer than Christ himself" is a fruit of meditation -- a grounding in the heart, and a responsiveness borne of love. 

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 9-13)


You should take delight in listening to sacred reading and in often turning generously to prayer.
(From para. 9 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

There's no doubt in my mind that a fruit of meditation is the gradual expansion of spirit into the flow of ever more continuous prayer. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 6-8)


Keep the reality of death always before your eyes, have a care about how you act every hour of your life and be sure that God is present everywhere and that he certainly sees and understands what you are about. (From para. 7 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

In order to see the reality of death and the presence of God, I must live in the present moment with selfless attention. If I can live this way in the present moment, I'm in relationship with my source and my destiny -- coming from love, for love, being able to love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 3-5)


Don't let your actions be governed by anger nor nurse your anger against a future opportunity of indulging it. (From para. 3 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I've experienced the raw, destructive power of anger -- my own, and that of others.  The strange image of "nursing anger" reveals for me the seductive qualities of the ego, trying to make me believe that a volatile, self-centered emotion could somehow be nurturing to me. Meditation helps me to recognize, and accept, an ego in need of transformation, and to grow in self-knowledge. Meditation also helps me to recognize who truly and tenderly dwells in my heart.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 1-2)

The first of all things to aim at is to love the Lord God with your whole heart and soul and strength and then to love your neighbour as much as you do yourself.
(From para. 1 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Benedict's straightforward, practical, Biblical injunctions remind me that everything I need for "Christian and monastic good practice" is right here and right now -- in this moment -- if only I look inward to God, and outward to those around me, in a continuous and unifying attention. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chapter 3: Calling the community together for consultation (paragraphs 2-3)


Such is the appropriate way to conform to that precept of scripture: If you act always after hearing the counsel of others, you will avoid the need to repent of your decision afterwards.
(From para. 3 of Ch. 3 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I'm grateful when the Spirit inspires me with energy and initiative; it's come to feel like a very trustworthy partnership! And yet, I also know that to act within a loving community requires counsel, discernment, and patience, for the very reason that the movement must be of the Spirit, and not of my ego.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chapter 3: Calling the community together for consultation (paragraph 1)


The community themselves should be careful to offer their advice with due deference and respect, avoiding an obstinate defence of their own convictions. (From para. 1 of Ch. 3 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I think assumptions and self-defense rule many conversations, even subtly between friends. Meditation teaches me to recognize gradually the control tactics of my ego. May I truly learn to express the deference and respect that spring from the compassionate heart.