Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reading for January 30, May 31, September 30

January 30, May 31, September 30
Chapter 7: On Humility

The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."

Some thoughts:

What does Benedict identify as the 2nd degree of humility? How would we accomplish this? What tools might we need? How do we learn God's will for us? How would we avoid legalism? Over-scrupulosity?

I find myself fascinated with the last quotation. Whenever St. Benedict quotes from the Bible, he identified the book, chapter and verse, but not here. This aroused my curiosity so I turned to a couple of heavy duty commentaries on the RB: Terence Kardong's _Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary_ and Adalebert de Vogue's _Reading St. Benedict: Reflections on the Rule_. Although it doesn't say so in this translation above, the Latin reads "Item dicit Scriptura" , literally "Scripture also says". The quotation itself is not from Scripture as we know it today, but rather is from the Passion of St. Anastasia, a saint venerated in Rome. This saying became a popular proverb. Adalbert suggests that Benedict may not have known the origin of the phrase which is why he didn't provide his usual citation.

I mention this because it brings home to me how fortunate we are in the 21st century that we can go to almost any bookstore and purchase a copy of the Bible which is what will teach us, if we allow it, to model our actions on those of our Lord and seek to do the will of the Father.

Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The first rung of the ladder of the spiritual life is to recognize that God is God, that nothing else can be permitted to consume us or satisfy us, that we must reach out for God before we can even begin to live the God-life. We must come to understand that we are not our own destinies.

The second rung of the spiritual life follows naturally: If God is my center and my end, then I must accept the will of God, knowing that in it lies the fullness of life for me, however obscure. The question, of course, is how do we recognize the Will of God? How do we tell the will of God from our own? How do we know when to resist the tide and confront the opposition and when to embrace the pain and accept the bitterness because "God wills it for us." The answer lies in the fact that the Jesus who said "I have come not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me" is also the Jesus who prayed in Gethsemane, "Let this chalice pass from me:" The will of God for us is what remains of a situation after we try without stint and pray without ceasing to change it.

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