Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Prologue to The Rule (paragraph 4)


What gentler encouragement could we have, my dear brothers and sisters, than that word from the Lord calling us to himself in such a way! We can see with what loving concern the Lord points out to us the path of life. (From para. 4 of Prologue to The Rule of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

The path of my life is a very simple and ordinary one. My tradition teaches me that each moment of my life can come alive through awareness, through the constancy of selflessness that springs from the practice of meditation. What gentler encouragement could I have, than discovering Christ within each ordinary moment?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Prologue to The Rule (paragraph 3)


However late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God. (From para. 3 of Prologue to The Rule of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Rousing, opening, changing, being in the now. I recall the Chinese wisdom,"The best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. The second best time is now." Only, now is not really second best. It is only and completely now, the only living moment which is calling me forth to transform and grow.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Prologue to The Rule (paragraphs 1-2)


This, then, is the beginning of my advice: make prayer the first step in anything worthwhile that you attempt. (From para. 2 of Prologue to The Rule of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

John Main tells me that, in leading the disciplined life, resolutions are not necessary. What I understand to be necessary is one thing: being in the moment, in the stream of loving awareness that flows between the Father and the Son. All good action flows from being. Such prayer is what I hear Benedict calling me to, as I begin, once again, to dispose myself to the teaching of the Rule.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Chapter 73: This Rule is only a beginning


The purpose for which we have written this rule is to make it clear that by observing it in our monasteries we can at least achieve the first steps in virtue and good monastic practice. (From para. 1 of Ch. 73 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

These are welcome words to me today, as consoling as John Main's assurance that, "in meditation, we are all beginners".  St. Benedict accepts me as I am, offers me both compassion and challenge, and guides me to trust in the help of Christ.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chapter 72: The good spirit which should inspire monastic life


It is easy to recognize the bitter spirit of wickedness which creates a barrier to God's grace and opens the way to the evil of hell. But equally there is a good spirit which frees us from evil ways and brings us closer to God and eternal life. (From Ch. 72 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Why, I wonder, does it it seem so much easier to see what is bitter in others and in myself, than to see the good? I'm aware of having a stubborn and very human disposition towards alienation. But, its hold over me is loosened by the practice of loving attention to the Other.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chapter 71: Mutual obedience in the monastery


Obedience is of such value that it should be shown not only to the superior but all members of the community should be obedient to each other in the sure knowledge that this way of obedience is the one that will take them straight to God. (From para. 1 of Ch. 71 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

It seems to me that mutual obedience is based on authentic self-knowledge, and thus, respect for "that of God" in everyone. This is a perception much deeper than the "good guy/bad guy" mentality that I see prevalent in our culture. True, deep perception of my own human nature  -- a fruit of meditation -- leads me towards compassion for others, and unity in the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chapter 70: The offence of striking another

Every occasion for presumptuous behaviour in a monastery must be avoided, so we insist that no one in the community may excommunicate or strike another unless given the power to do so by the superior. (From Ch. 70 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Presumptuous behavior, it seems to me, is the opposite of true authority. The first, motivated by the ego, drives me to assume power over others. The second, motivated by the Spirit, allows me to act lovingly in the best interest of others.