Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Any member of the community who in the course of some work in the kitchen, in the stores, while fulfilling a service to others or in the bakery, the garden or the workshops or anywhere else does something wrong or happens to break or lose something or to be guilty of some other wrongdoing, must as soon as possible appear before the superior and the community with a voluntary admission of the failure and willing reparation for it. (From para. 1 of Ch. 46 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
For me, this passage poses an examination of conscience: is every task, every moment, every relationship an opportunity to work with love and gratitude? Does my work mediate Christ's love for me, no matter how small the work seems? Am I alert to the difference it makes to my consciousness, and to those around me?
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Chapter 45: Mistakes in the Oratory
Anyone who makes a mistake in a psalm, responsory, antiphon or reading must have the humility to make immediate reparation there before all the community in the oratory. A failure to do that so clearly shows lack of the humility to put right a fault which was due to carelessness that it must incur a more severe punishment. (From Ch. 45 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
I think about how my distracted state of mind -- a lack of presence -- interferes with meditation or other work I do. But am I alert to how my distracted state of mind diminishes my community?
Monday, March 23, 2015
Chapter 44: The reconciliation of those excommunicated
They should in complete silence simply lay their heads on the ground before the feet of all the community coming out of the oratory and stay there until the superior judges that they have done enough in reparation. (From para. 1 of Ch. 44 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict tells me that true reconciliation is accomplished at the deepest of levels, in humble silence, in my heart.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Chapter 43: Late-comers for the work of God or in the refectory (paragraphs 4-5)
In the refectory all must come to table together so as to offer their grace together as one community.
(From para. 4 of Ch. 43 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Here, grace means thanksgiving, and Benedict instructs me to offer my grace together as one with others. In this way, I also understand grace to mean the way the way the Spirit is present and active in loving community.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Chapter 42: The great silence after Compline
Silence should be sought at all times by monks and nuns and this is especially important for them at night time. (From para. 1 of Ch. 42 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Silence may allow me to experience either the presence of God or the absence of God. Either way, I proceed in faith, into the darkest time of my day.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Chapter 41: The times for community meals
The principle is that the superior should manage everything so prudently that the saving work of grace may be accomplished in the community and whatever duties the community undertakes they may be carried out without any excuse for murmuring. (From para. 1 of Ch. 41 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
I'm at my desk right now, reading the Rule, writing this blog, and planning my day on a little yellow sticky note, distracted by feeling behind and by things that need to get done. Is my guiding principle truly that the saving work of grace may be accomplished among my family, friends, community? Or is distraction murmuring at me? Practicing attention will bring me into God's sphere better than fretting will.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Chapter 40: The proper amount of drink to be provided
It may be that local circumstances may make it impossible to provide the amount of wine we have suggested above so that there may be much less available or even none at all. Those who live in such a locality should praise God and avoid any murmuring. Above all else I urge that there should be no murmuring in the community. (From para. 3 of Ch. 40 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Simple: Replace habits of overconsumption and complaining with praise of God. Not easy: But the work of the mantra teaches me that I have a choice about where I place my attention.