Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Chapter 55: Clothing and footwear for the community (paragraphs 1-2)


The community must not be too sensitive about the colour and quality of this clothing; they should be content with what is available in the locality at a reasonable cost. However the superior should see to it that the garments are not short and ill-fitting but appropriate to the size and build of those who wear them. (From para. 1 of Chap. 55 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

What should be my concern with putting on garments? Certainly not a superficial individuality nor a possessiveness and accumulation. Rather, let me be simple, functional, grateful and kind in the choices I must make.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Chapter 54: The reception of letters and gifts in the monastery


Then it will be for the superior, after agreeing to the reception of the gift, to decide who in the community should receive the gift and, if it is not the one to whom it was sent, that should not give rise to recriminations lest the devil be given an opportunity. (From Ch. 54 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

A generosity of spirit, an attention to the true needs of others, and a detachment from controlling or being controlled by things: All of this is a liberating message to me in a culture of commercial chaos.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chapter 53: The reception of guests (paragraphs 5-6)


The kitchen to serve the superior together with the guests should be quite separate, so that guests, who are never lacking in a monastery, may not unsettle the community by arriving, as they do, at all times of the day. (From para. 5 of Ch. 53 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I may not have two kitchens, but I have the grace of a discipline, the practice of meditation twice a day. Circumstances may require me to be flexible, and sometimes I may fail, but I have the stability of knowing what my practice is, so that I may always be grounded in it, always return to it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chapter 53: The reception of guests (paragraphs 1-4)


The greatest care should be taken to give a warm reception to the poor and to pilgrims, because it is in them above all others that Christ is welcomed. (From para. 4 of Ch. 53 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

What seems special to me about the poor and the pilgrims is a lack of pretense, a way of being that is transparent because of unencumbrance. In this way, the heart shines out.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chapter 52: The oratory of the monastery


The oratory must be simply a place of prayer, as the name itself implies, and it must not be used for any other activities at all nor as a place for storage of any kind. (From Ch. 52 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

The mantra is a way of poverty; it leads to purity of heart.  It's a way of letting go of the emotional baggage that can cram my own inner room.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chapter 51: Those on local errands or work


Any who are sent on an errand which will allow them to return to the monastery on the same day must not eat outside, in spite of pressing invitations whatever their source, unless the superior has approved this. (From Ch. 51 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

In the midst of many pressures which would take me off course, I thank God for the stability of the discipline of meditation.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chapter 50: Those whose work takes them away from the monastery


Those whose work takes them some distance from the monastery so that they cannot manage to get to the oratory at the right times for prayer must kneel with profound reverence for the Lord and perform the work of God at their place of work. (From para. 1 of Ch. 50 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I'm sensing an inward movement -- the work of God (meditation) and my places of work -- closing in on each other, becoming more continuous.