Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for June 10, 2009

February 9, June 10, October 10
Chapter 7: On Humility
The twelfth degree of humility
is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
to those who see him.
That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
in the fields or anywhere else,
and whether sitting, walking or standing,
he should always have his head bowed
and his eyes toward the ground.
Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
and constantly say in his heart
what the publican in the Gospel said
with his eyes fixed on the earth:
"Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven" (Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
and again with the Prophet:
"I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37[38]:7,9; 118[119]:107).

Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
which casts out fear.
And all those precepts
which formerly he had not observed without fear,
he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
without any effort,
as though naturally and by habit.
No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
but rather the love of Christ,
good habit
and delight in the virtues
which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.

Some thoughts:

Benedict is big on "walking the talk" as we've seen before. Some of us may react negatively to this business of walking with one's head bowed down. Maybe we don't want to present such an abject figure to the world. I have an idea I'd like us to try on for size. What if Benedict believes that in so doing, we will not see the sins of others? We preserve humility when we do not compare ourselves to others.

Well, whatever, that's not the bit I like the best in this section of the RB. Previously, Benedict has spoken much about the dread of judgement, fear of hell etc. but here he tells us that all this hard work we did in the previous 11 steps has the most fantastic, wonderful result: to love God and to know God loves the seeker. That all one does and says is out of love for God. That one voluntarily chooses to do that which pleases God in order to increase the love the 2 share.



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