Thursday, September 06, 2007

Prologue, continued Jan. 6 - May 7 - Sept. 6

Prologue continued

Jan. 6 - May 7 - Sept. 6

So, brothers and sisters, we have asked the Lord
who is to dwell in His tent,
and we have heard His commands
to anyone who would dwell there;
it remains for us to fulfill those duties.

Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies
to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands;
and let us ask God
that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace
for anything which our nature finds hardly possible.
And if we want to escape the pains of hell
and attain life everlasting,
then, while there is still time,
while we are still in the body
and are able to fulfill all these things
by the light of this life,
we must hasten to do now
what will profit us for eternity.

Some thoughts:

For those who have accepted God's invitation, we must next prepare ourselves for what comes next. How do we do that? We ask God! God not only invites us, He also makes it possible for us to become what He invited us too. Benedict tells us how important this is with images such as "pains of hell", "life everlasting", "eternity". What is it "we must hasten to do now"? We must ask God for His help. Could Benedict have envisioned anything simpler?

I wonder though, if the sophisticated society in which we live has made it more difficult for us to give ourselves to God? Now that we know about meterology, tectonic plates, psychology, medicine, germs, etc how much harder it is for us to see God as the root cause of all things, as they did back in day when the RB was written? Doesn't God seem removed from cause and effect of everyday life?

The word "sophistication" has an interesting etymology in classical Greek. The Greek word "sophis" of course is related to "wise" and to be honest, I forget just this minute what the other Greek word is, but the jist of the 2 in combination is something like "jaded to the things of the gods". So already in the days of Socrates and Plato, Euripides and Sophocles, there were already people who thought they knew so much, they didn't need their gods. Do any of us wish to be sophisticated in that sense? I don't.

The questions the Rule asks of us every day are:

Will I offer myself to Father, Son and Holy Spirit today?

How do I offer myself to Father, Son and Holy Spirit today?

Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

There is a poignancy in this paragraph that is little associated with great spiritual documents. First, Benedict stresses again that we are not alone in our undertaking to live above the dregs of life. What is "not possible to us by nature," we must "beg for by grace," he says. This is an enterprise between two spirits, in other words, God's and our own. We will fail often, but God will not fail us and we must not stop.

"God," the elder said, "is closer to sinners than to saints."

"But how can that be," the eager disciple asked.

And the elder explained: "God in heaven holds each person by a string. When we sin, we cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot--bringing the sinner a little closer. Again and again sins cut the string--and with each knot God keeps drawing the sinner closer and closer."

Even our weaknesses take us to God if we let them.

It is a very liberating thought: We are not capable of what we are about to do but we are not doing it alone and we are not doing it without purpose. God is with us, holding us up so that the reign of God may be made plain in us and become hope to others. If we can become peacemakers, if we can control our need to control, if we can distinguish between our wants and our needs, then anybody can.

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