Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chapter 23: Faults which deserve excommunication

If an individual in the community is defiant, disobedient, proud or given to murmuring or in any other way set in opposition to the holy Rule and contemptuous of traditions of the seniors, then we should follow the precepts of the Lord. (From Ch.23 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

In my experience, community may very well be made to bump and bruise my ego. Community can certainly push me way beyond my comfort zone. How does meditation teach me to respond? To find Jesus hidden deep within my heart. This can lead me to new life: an ego tamed to the service of others, and a heart expanding in joyful selflessness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chapter 22: Sleeping arrangements for the community

In the morning, as they are getting up for the work of God, they should quietly give encouragement to those who are sleepy and given to making excuses for being late. (From para. 2 of Ch. 22 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Here I am the sleepy one, given to making excuses, and I am also the one who encourages. Contradictory or complementary tendencies, perfectly explicable in a human. And, like my meditation practice, I struggle with fidelity, and yet also find that fidelity is in me, deeper than my ego.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chapter 21: The deans of the monastery

They must be selected for their suitability in character and gifts so that the abbot or abbess may, without anxiety, share some responsibilities with them. (From para. 1 of Ch. 21 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I think that sharing responsibilities can be a way of sharing life. I can believe less in my own "indispensability" and help others open their eyes to their own gifts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chapter 20: The ideal of true reverence in prayer

We must really be quite clear that our prayer will be heard, not because of the eloquence and length of all we have to say, but because of the heartfelt repentance and openness of our hearts to the Lord whom we approach. (From Ch. 20 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

And so does meditation teach me to be humble and open. But what I am also learning is the power of intercessory prayer -- of saying clearly and intentionally, to those I trust, how I need to be held in prayer. In this way I discover another communal aspect of prayer -- the prayer of sharing each other's burdens.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chapter 19: Our approach to prayer

All of us, then, should reflect seriously on how to appear before the majesty of God in the presence of his angels. That will lead us to make sure that, when we sing in choir, there is complete harmony between the thoughts in our mind and the meaning of the words we sing. (From Ch. 19 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB,, 1997.)

Complete harmony, an ever-greater integration of my being in the heart. This is fullness of life, at least in this life.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraphs 4-6)

After all, we read that our holy Fathers had the energy to fulfil in one single day what we in our lukewarm devotion only aspire to complete in a whole week. (From para. 6 of Ch. 18 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

The fire of the living God can enlighten even my lukewarm devotion, and transform me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraph 3)

These same psalms are repeated daily until Sunday and the identical arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses is retained everyday. (From para. 3 of Ch. 18 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

It seems to me that a spirit of fidelity to practice pervades Benedict's sense of order -- just as it pervades the tradition of the mantra as taught by John Main.