Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chapter 73: This Rule is only a beginning

Whoever you may be, then, in your eagerness to reach your Father's home in heaven, be faithful with Christ's help to this small Rule which is only a beginning. (From para. 1 of Ch. 73 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

This small Rule helps me to see what obscures the presence of God for me. And, this small Rule has helped me to address those blocks and say, "What matters is not what's between me and that problem anymore. What matters is what's between me and God."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chapter 72: The good spirit which should inspire monastic life

By following this path they try to be first to show respect to one another with the greatest patience in tolerating weaknesses of body or character. (From Ch. 72 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Why can it be so hard to tolerate weakness of body or character -- those of others or mine, as well? Impatience is the ego jumping in, I suppose, trying to build itself up by putting others down, or trying to gain attention for its own pitiful state. And so it seems to me that impatience is the opposite of love. Love expands the space between my impatient reaction and my heart, making room for the patient gaze of love.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chapter 71: Mutual obedience in the monastery

Any monk or nun who is corrected for anything by abbot or abbess or one of the seniors and perceives that the senior is upset by feelings of anger, even though they may be well in control, then that junior should at once prostrate on the ground in contrition and not move until the senior gives a blessing which will heal the upset. (From para. 2 of Ch. 70 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I've pondered on this directive quite a bit from a justice point of view. Who's guilty, and of what? Was the junior really at fault for something or unjustly corrected? Isn't the senior's anger a fault, and isn't controlling his anger enough? Why does the junior, guilty or not, have to prostrate himself for his perceived fault to the senior? But I realize St. Benedict isn't talking about justice. He's talking about love in the form of mutual obedience, and that happens in the moment of the blessing. The blessing takes the scenario beyond a matter of justice and moves it into the realm of reconciliation.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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.)

My behavior is presumptuous when my ego moves in ahead of my heart; when judging takes the place of love. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chapter 69: No one should act as advocate for another

Great care must be taken to avoid any tendency for one of the community to take the side of and try to protect another, even though they may be closely related through ties of blood. (From Ch. 69 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Protect another from what? I believe in standing up for those I love, for those in need. But perhaps I need to spare them my overprotection, when it would hinder their own growth in self-sufficiency, and their own growth in the Spirit.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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.)

Simply stated, I must live each moment with this much trust in God.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chapter 67: Those who are 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 memento of all who may be absent. (From Ch. 67 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

How much -- really mindless -- coming and going do I do, day in and day out? May my awareness expand to include all the little journeys I make, on behalf of myself or others, in and out the door, up and down the steps, in and out of the car. May all these little journeys become part of the flow of continuous prayer that keeps me living in a mutual gaze with God.