Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reading for Feb 3, Hune 4, Oct 4

February 3, June 4, October 4
Chapter 7: On Humility

The sixth degree of humility
is that a monk be content
with the poorest and worst of everything,
and that in every occupation assigned him
he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
saying with the Prophet,
"I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
I have become as a beast of burden before You,
and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).

Some thoughts:

Now this hardly jives with our modern notions of self--esteem, a good self-image, does it? What a contrast this is with our consumerist society with its emphasis on buy buy buy.

Perhaps Benedict is reminding us that there is a connection between humility and humiliation? In this sense perhaps also a reminder that we Christians are to be out of step with our society and culture, holding dear a different standard? It seems to me Benedict would have us live with this concept in the forefront of our minds. It is an uncomfortable place, to be sure. Even quite painful.

But and it's a big "but", look at the bit from the Psalm... no matter what degree of humiliation, God wants us. And that, of course, is what the RB is all about: loving God, being loved by Him.

Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

In a classless society status is snatched in normally harmless but corrosive little ways. We are a people who like embossed business cards, and monogrammed leather briefcases, and invitations to public events. We spend money we don't have to buy cars with sliding glass windows in the ceiling. We go into debt to buy at the right stores and live on the right street and go to the right schools. We call ourselves failures if we can't turn last year's models in on this year's styles. We measure our successes by the degree to which they outspan the successes of the neighbors. We have lost a sense of "enoughness."

Benedict tells us that it is bad for the soul to have to have more than the necessary, that it gluts us, that it protects us in plexiglass from the normal, the natural. Benedict says that the goal of life is not to amass things but to get the most out of whatever little we have. Benedict tells us to quit climbing. If we can learn to love life where we are, in what we have, then we will have room in our souls for what life alone does not have to offer.

The Tao Te Ching teaches, "Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations."

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