Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for May 26,2009

January 25, May 26, September 25

Chapter 7: On Humility

Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130[131]:2).

Hence, brethren,
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
we must
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.

Some thoughts:

Well, here it is. The very beginning of the longest and most detailed treatment of any subject in the RB. Without humility, none of the rest of it matters. We could be most punctiliously correct in prayer times, good works, obedience, serving in our churches. If, however, we have pride in our hearts, no matter how secret, then we have failed.

Benedict uses the imagery of the ladder. It is a common metaphor of Christian writers. St. John Climacus wrote the Ladder of Divine Ascent. I've seen the icon called the Ladder of Divine Ascent. St Therese of Lisieux used a ladder in her Little Way. It's a great metaphor. We climb up, climb down, fall off, ladder collapses, we reach the top.

Mostly though climbing a ladder is work. Especially if we attempt to climb it carrying burdens of any sort. The things is about climbing a ladder... we do it ourselves. No one can climb a ladder for us. We chose whether we go up or down and when we do it. It's up to us.



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