Friday, July 22, 2016

Chapter 47: Signalling the times for the work of God


The superior is personally responsible for making sure that the time for the work of God, both at night at during the daytime, is clearly made known to all. (From para. 1 of Ch. 47 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Today, St. Benedict exhorts me to a bravely counter-cultural stance. The "work of God", in the broadest sense of living in Christ-consciousness, is unwelcome and unfamiliar to the world at large. But, the Spirit moves to help me realize Christ in the world.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chapter 46: Faults committed elsewhere


Any member of the community who in the course of some work in the kitchen, in the stores, while fulfilling a service to others or in the bakery, the garden or the workshops or anywhere else does something wrong or happens to break or lose something or to be guilty of some other wrongdoing, must as soon as possible appear before the superior and the community with a voluntary admission of the failure and willing reparation for it. (From para. 1 of Ch. 46 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

For me, this passage poses an examination of conscience: am I aware that every task, every moment, every relationship is an opportunity to work with love and gratitude?  Does my work mediate Christ's love, no matter how small the work seems?  Am I alert to the difference it makes to my consciousness, and to those around me?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Chapter 45: Mistakes in the Oratory

Anyone who makes a mistake in a psalm, responsory, antiphon or reading must have the humility to make immediate reparation there before all the community in the oratory. A failure to do that so clearly shows lack of the humility to put right a fault which was due to carelessness that it must incur a more severe punishment. (From Ch. 45 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I think about how my distracted state of mind  -- a lack of presence -- interferes with meditation or other work I do.  But am I alert to how my distracted state of mind diminishes my community?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chapter 44: The reconciliation of those excommunicated


They should in complete silence simply lay their heads on the ground before the feet of all the community coming out of the oratory and stay there until the superior judges that they have done enough in reparation. (From para. 1 of Ch. 44 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

"Having done enough in reparation" -- I recognize this description as something of a paradox. It is important that I learn what enough is -- something less than perfection, but that involves my whole self. And so, it is important that I learn what reparation is -- a process of returning to wholeness, of being in the wholeness of God, a lifelong returning which I don't control, but in which I participate. "Having done enough in reparation" happens because I allow God, again and again, to repair me.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chapter 43: Late-comers for the work of God or in the refectory (paragraphs 4-5)


In the refectory all must come to table together so as to offer their grace together as one community. (From para. 4 of Ch. 43 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Here, grace means thanksgiving, and Benedict instructs me to offer my grace together as one with others. In this way,  I also understand grace to mean the way the way the Spirit is present and active in loving community.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Chapter 43: Late-comers for the work of God or in the refectory (paragraphs 1-3)

When the time comes for one of the Divine offices to begin, as soon as the signal is heard, everyone must set aside whatever they may have in hand and hurry as fast as possible to the oratory, but of course they should do so in a dignified way which avoids giving rise to any boisterous behaviour. The essential point is that nothing should be accounted more important that the work of God. (From para. 1 of Ch. 43 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I love how, in a long and practical sentence, St. Benedict describes exactly how to deal with what may feel to me like an interruption in my own work. Then, in a short sentence, he makes his point about the work of God. Meditation teaches me that the time is now to begin again.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chapter 42: The great silence after Compline


Silence should be sought at all times by monks and nuns and this is especially important for them at night time. (From para. 1 of Ch. 42 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Silence is an interior knowing that I rest in God at all times.