Monday, September 21, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for September 21, 2009

January 21, May 22, September 21

Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

To fulfill God's commandments daily in one's deeds.
To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy.
Not to love contention.
To beware of haughtiness.
And to respect the seniors.
To love the juniors.
To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
To make peace with one's adversary before the sun sets.
And never to despair of God's mercy.
These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft.
If we employ them unceasingly day and night,
and return them on the Day of Judgment,
our compensation from the Lord
will be that wage He has promised:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).

Now the workshop
in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks
is the enclosure of the monastery
and stability in the community.

Some thoughts:

There are those who criticize the Benedictine way as an ivory tower with no engagement with the world. I would maintain that a life of prayer engages one with the world in a way too deep for words. Ch 4 of the RB is about as practical as anything I've ever read. If we Christians could absorb ch 4 and make it part of our very marrow, the so-called ivory tower way would transform the world. Ok, not a very profound or original thought, but true nonetheless. The 1st 2 instruments of good works are to love God and to love one's neighbor as one's self. The remaining 70 instruments are commentary on the 1st 2. They tell us how to accomplish 1 & 2.

Evelyn Underhill wrote, and this is a bad paraphrase, that the love we share with God is genuine, it will overflow the bounds of our human flesh and pour out to all of humanity. The RB is a school for learning to love God and neighbor in this manner. I call that engaging with the world

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