Sunday, August 30, 2015

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.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chapter 69: No one should act as advocate for another


Such a thing must not happen in the monastery because it would provide a very serious occasion of scandal. (From Ch. 69 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I think St. Benedict is telling me that self-interest, even when it appears to be service to another, creates division. My responsibility to community is to allow the life of Christ to act within and among us.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chapter 68: The response to orders that seem impossible


If the superior after listening to this submission still insists on the original command, then the junior must accept that it is the right thing and with loving confidence in the help of God obey. (From Ch. 68 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Christ blesses me with those who challenge my notions of my perceived limitations. In this way, what I might dismiss as mere weakness, becomes, through deep listening, my "growing edge".

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chapter 67: Those sent on a journey


Those who are sent on a journey should commend themselves to the prayers of all the community as well as of the superior, and, at the last prayer of the work of God in the oratory, there should always be a momento of all who may be absent. (From Ch. 67 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Sometimes my journeys are the undesirable ones of wandering from life-giving routine, from loving spiritual discipline.  But the "momento" of my true identity in Christ always waits on the altar of my heart.