Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraphs 19-20)


Good habit and delight in virtue will carry us along.  (From para. 20 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

In a sense, I would say that John Main quantified aspects of the practice of meditation to help establish understanding of it as a "good habit": 20-30 minutes, twice a day, saying the mantra for the whole time of the meditation. What emerges from this discipline, practiced in loving fidelity, is a creative rhythm to my life that carries me along.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 18)


We should speak gently and seriously with words that are weighty and restrained. We should be brief and reasonable in whatever we have to say and not raise our voices to insist on our own opinions. (From para. 18 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

My speech shouldn't express obsession with the past nor fears for the future. Rather, rooted in God's own time, which is the present moment, my speech should convey a loving awareness of reality.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 17)


The tenth step of humility teaches that we should not be given to empty laughter on every least occasion because: a fool's voice is for ever raised in laughter. (Para. 17 from Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I recognize that empty laughter is full of ego. But laughter, full of joy in being, transforms me.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 16)


The ninth step of humility leads us to refrain from unnecessary speech and to guard our silence by not speaking until we are addressed. (From para. 16 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Into this teaching I read wisdom about the speed of speech -- or the quality of speech in time. For example, do I pause so that I may respond rather than react, or even restrain my response altogether so that I may continue to listen to another more deeply? Speaking with a measured but unaffected slowness can have a spiritual quality, allowing my words to come from my heart, and not from an obsession with expressing my ego. In this culture, I think that speaking from a contemplative sense of time is rare and radical, and might frustrate others, but can also, with God's grace, inspire them.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 15)


The eighth step of humility teaches us to do nothing which goes beyond what is approved and encouraged by the common rule of the monastery and the example of our seniors. (Para. 15 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

At first, this paragraph reads to me like a real damper on individual initiative and discernment. But the qualities I read more deeply into it are true self-knowledge, openness to being formed in a wisdom tradition, and stability in seeking Christ in my heart. It's also not too much of a stretch for me to recognize the faithful discipline required by the practice of meditation. In this way, St. Benedict offers me a guide to liberty of spirit.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 14)


I was raised up high in honor, but then I was humbled and overwhelmed with confusion. (From para. 14 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Confusion would be an unhappy end to the story, if I remained demoralized forever. But the humiliation I experience, when I can confront loss with an open heart, brings me, through grace, to a radical acceptance of what is.  Because what is, is where I can find God.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chapter 7: The value of humility (paragraph 13)


The sixth step of humility for monks or nuns is to accept without complaint really wretched and inadequate conditions so that when faced with a task of any kind they would think of themselves as poor workers not worthy of consideration and repeat to God the verse of the psalm: I am of no account and lack understanding, no better than a beast in your sight. Yet I am always in your presence. (From para. 13 of Ch. 7 of Saint Benedict's Psalm, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

The important sentence here, for me, is the last one. It's hard for me to read Benedict's admonition to think of myself as worthless. But, the fact is that I sometimes do feel quite unworthy. And yet, that is perhaps a grace in disguise that helps me to remember that am nothing without God, and yet, I am always in his presence. What changes is my fickle and limited point of view. What is constant and redeeming is the divine energy that sustains me.