Sunday, December 10, 2017

Chapter 56: The table for the superior and community guests


The superior's table should always be with the guests and pilgrims. (From Ch. 56 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

If I honor someone else, it could be because I hope to catch some reflected glory. Or, I can honor someone with humility, and with the deepest respect for their mystery. The more I plumb in prayer the mystery of my own existence, the more I can wonder at the mystery of another.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Chapter 55: Clothing and footwear for the community (paragraphs 3-5)


The superior ought to inspect the beds at regular intervals to see that private possessions are not being hoarded there. (From  para. 3 of Ch. 55 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Hoarding is a function of my ego, and my ego hoards more than things. Fidelity to the mantra allows the Spirit to inspect my soul, and this simplifies me.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

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.)

Contentment with what is reasonably available, and yet also appropriate to size and build. It seems to me that Benedict counsels against a preoccupation with clothing and the false identity that can come with it. But against the false identity he also counsels for clothing that recognizes the dignity of the True Self in every size of person.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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 my true needs and those of others, a detachment from using things to control others, and from being controlled by things myself: All of this is a liberating message to me in a season of commercial chaos.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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.

Monday, December 4, 2017

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 the poor and the pilgrims represent for me a lack of pretense, a way of being that is transparent. Freed of being encumbered, the heart shines out.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

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 like a broom that sweeps away the debris of my inner space. This broom clears the way of poverty, a path of dispossession, that leads to purity of heart. The mantra takes me deeper and deeper, pushing aside psychological baggage, bringing me closer to my source.