Tuesday, September 23, 2014
We should remember, however, that such obedience will be acceptable to God and rewarding to us, if we carry out the orders given us in a way that is not fearful, nor slow, nor half-hearted, nor marred by murmuring or the sort of compliance that betrays resentment. (From para. 4 of Ch. 5 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
The destructive behaviors that St. Benedict so astutely describes are passive-aggressive; for me, the way forward out of such a negative cycle is kindness of heart -- a fruit of (and preparation for) meditation.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Chapter 5: Monastic obedience (paragraphs 1-3)
It is, in fact, almost in one single moment that a command is uttered by the superior and the task carried to completion by the disciple, showing how much more quickly both acts are accomplished together because of their reverence for God. (From para. 2 of Ch. 5 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
There is something in this description of obedience that speaks to me about the quality of contemplative time, about attention to the Divine presence, about selfless service, and even of being ready to die.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 9-13)
The workshop in which we are called to work along these lines with steady perseverance is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in community life. (From para. 13 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Monastic enclosure and stability, fitted to my life as a contemplative householder, take on a quality that I identify as discipline. I ask myself: What does the discipline of Christian meditation teach me? About the priority of prayer before the demands of my ego? About knowing what my practice is, even if I miss it. About learning to pray continuously? About the necessity of growing through relationship? About resolving upsets in a spirit mutual respect? About service?
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 6-8)
Keep the reality of death always before your eyes, have a care about how you act every hour of your life and be sure that God is present everywhere and that he certainly sees and understands what you are about. (From para. 7 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Keeping the reality of death always before my eyes is countercultural advice, to say the least. But it gets easier as I get older, both through scrapes with mortality and the realization that all I can really do with life is to love it on its own terms. But most significantly, letting go of my ego in meditation gives me a glimmering of experience of the quality of being that comprehensively bright and expansive and ever-present.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 3-5)
Don't let your actions be governed by anger nor nurse your anger against a future opportunity of indulging it. (From para. 3 of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Resentment can grow like a tightening band around my heart. To forgive another or myself allows my heart to beat strong and free, and in this pulse of Christ I become kind.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Chapter 4: Guidelines for Christian and monastic good practice (paragraphs 1-2)
The first of all things to aim at is to love the Lord God with your whole heart and soul and strength and then to love your neighbour as much as you do yourself. (From para. 1of Ch. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict's first rules in Christian and monastic life are down-to-earth, relational, and respectful. But the aim of which he speaks is for me, clearly, the practice of the mantra, the selfless focussing of attention that leads to purity of heart.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Chapter 3: Calling the community together for consultation (paragraphs 2-3)
In a monastery no one should follow the prompting of what are merely personal desires nor should any monk or nun take it on themselves to oppose the abbot or abbess defiantly, especially in a public forum outside the monastery. (From para. 2 of Ch. 3 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
I've leaned that a fruit of meditation can involve putting aside "what are merely personal desires", so that I become more attuned to the promptings of the Spirit that move among us all.