Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for May 19, 2009

Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.
Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
Then not to murder.
Not to commit adultery.
Not to steal.
Not to covet.
Not to bear false witness.
To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
To chastise the body.
Not to become attached to pleasures.
To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
To help in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To become a stranger to the world's ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Some thoughts:

As I prayed over today's reading, an image formed in my mind. There's Benedict at the head of the table and a bunch monks scattered around it. Benedict has just uttered the 2 Great Commandments and said something about how we demonstrate this through our good works.

One of the monks says, "Ok, boss, we're Christians, we know we are supposed to love God, love neighbor, do go yada yada. But could you please be more specific? What does that actually look like? Could you give us a clue? Help us out here."

Which gets us into that cliche, however true that love is a verb, not an emotion. Love is choice, not a feeling that comes over us.

Something I've thought for a goodly long time now is this: To be a Christian is to primarily be in a relationship of love with the Creator. I am pretty sure this is why Paul likens the relationship between Christ and the church to a marriage. IT is obvious that Paul expects love to be part of that marriage.

So when we are in a love-based relationship, presumably we wish to nurture the love so that it grows. We all know from our own experiences that every day we make choices about our relationships. We can choose to act in such a way that nurtures the love or we can choose that which diminishes the love.

It is no surprised to me that immediately after Benedict repeats the 2 Great Commandments that he launches into a list that we will be reading for 2 more days with some of the 10 Commandments. Could there be any better guideline than these to tell us what does and what does not cause love to flourish between a person and God?

I can envision Benedict getting into the spirit of things, warming to his theme, as he rattles off all kinds of things that will make love grow between a person and God, between person and person. All of which demonstrates, btw, that we prefer nothing to the love of Christ.


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