Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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


No one in a monastic community may receive or send to others letters, gifts of piety or any little tokens without the permission of the superior, whether it is their parents who are concerned or anyone else at all or another member of the community. (From Ch. 54 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

For me to freely give, and to freely receive, I must do so in a way which expands the spirit of selfless love.

Monday, August 3, 2015

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.)

My household isn't large enough to contain two kitchens.  And yet, I respond to the parallel arrangement that Benedict describes, of hospitality and stability standing side by side.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

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.)

My experience of being an assistant to mentally handicapped adults in a L'Arche household made very real for me a radical gospel message: Put the poor (the weak, the disenfranchised, the vulnerable) at the center of community.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

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.)

Jesus teaches me to pray contemplatively in my heart: "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matt 6:6).  My inner room is my heart, my oratory, where Jesus dwells. In practicing selfless attention to Him, there is no room for egotism or psychological baggage of any kind.

Friday, July 31, 2015

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.)

Too rushed, too tired -- I can be very quick to rationalize reasons why I can "skip out" on my spiritual attentiveness. St. Benedict is reminding me to always return to my source.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

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.)


Benedict has a specific instruction here about fidelity to the Divine Office, but I'm struck by the way the final phrase repeats the word "work",  to say to me, in essence, "to perform the work at the place of work".  In this way, I may see all work as the work of God,  and all places as that oratory which is the secret room in my heart.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chapter 49: How Lent should be observed in the monastery


Therefore we urge that all in the monastery during these holy days of Lent should look carefully at the integrity of their lives and get rid in this holy season of any thoughtless compromises which may have crept in at other times. (From para. 1 of Ch. 49 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Where are the gaps?  At what points in my life is there a lack of connectivity between who I am and what I do?  What are the thoughtless compromises in which ego takes place over spirit, distraction takes place over attention, self takes place over others?