Monday, August 21, 2017
They should not be trouble-makers nor given to excessive anxiety nor should they be too demanding and obstinate, nor yet interfering and inclined to suspicion so as never to be at rest. (From para. 4 of Ch. 64 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
My job is not to be busy about controlling people or events, but to rest in the Lord. This is where I may discover my spiritual resources, in my return to my source.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Chapter 64: The election of an abbot or abbess (paragraphs 1-2)
The grounds on which a candidate is elected abbot or abbess must be the quality of their monastic life and the wisdom of their teaching, even if they are the last in order in the community. (From para. 1 of Ch. 64 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict teaches me: Order is not merely rank. It is more importantly the quality of alignment in my inner and outer life, and in my life in community with others. This kind of alignment with the living Spirit that flows through me and sustains me, also liberates me.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Chapter 63: Community order (paragraphs 2-3)
When members of a monastic community meet each other, the junior asks a blessing of the senior. As a senior passes by, the junior rises and yields a place for the senior to sit down and will never sit without the senior's permission. In that way they will conform to scripture which says they should try to be the first to show respect for each other. (From para. 3 of Ch. 63 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
It seems to me wonderfully true, that life-giving order emerges out of everyone being first -- the first to show kindness to the other.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Chapter 63: Community order (paragraph 1)
So, apart from those whom the superior has promoted for a more cogent reason or demoted for specific faults, all the others retain the order of their conversion to monastic life so exactly that one who arrived at the monastery door at the second hour must accept a place junior to another who came an hour earlier, whatever their age or former rank may have been. (From para. 1 of Ch. 62 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict defines my moment of conversion -- my moment of becoming a new creation in Christ -- as my movement away from self-centeredness and towards finding my place in a community of love.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Chapter 62: The priests of the monastery
When ordained a monk must be careful to avoid a spirit of self-importance or pride and he must avoid taking on himself any duties to which the abbot has not assigned him. (From para. 1 of Ch. 62 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
I 'm stunned by the lack of a moral compass today, witnessing leadership that flaunts its own self-importance in dangerous ways. But I must confront my own sense of self-importance and pride. I remember John Main's description of the mantra as like a compass that guides us home in a storm. I realize the absolute necessity of fidelity to the mantra, and thus, of living my own life in a more selfless and attentive way.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Chapter 61: Monastic pilgrims from far away (paragraphs 2-3)
But if no such negative signs are apparent it may be right to go further and not wait for a request to be accepted in the community. It may even be right to persuade such a one to stay so that others may benefit and learn from such example. (From para. 2 of Ch. 61 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
For me, community means understanding that God has brought me together with others. Although these relationships may, at times, be frustrating or baffling to me, God is among us, in the potential for authentic relationships. And even if those relationships should fail, God is still always present in the potential for finding the redemptive value of experience.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Chapter 61: Monastic pilgrims from far away (paragraphs 1-2)
It may happen, of course, that one of them may find something to point out in criticism about the customs of the monastery, using sound arguments in a spirit of charitable deference. In that case the superior should consider the whole questions with care and prudence in case it was for this very purpose that the pilgrim was sent by the Lord. (From para. 1 of Ch. 61 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Pilgrims come in to my life, bringing conflict or affection, challenging my self-limitations. And I am a pilgrim in theirs. Each of us brings the potential for selfless attention to the other, which, in God's own time, may spark transforming relationships among us.