Friday, February 08, 2008

Thoughts on the Rule of St. Benedict...

St. Benedict is quite clear that outward conformity doesn't count.
When Benedict talks about handling (the monastery tools) with care, about reverence and respect for material things, he does it in a way that is immediate and specific, and therefore difficult to evade. The Abbot hands out the work tools to the brothers, and he keeps a list, recognizing that these items are on loan and that everything matters. At the end of time, whether it is when the harvest is finished, or at the end of one's life, or the day of judgment, they are to be collected back again and "recollegenda." The Latin word carries a sense that when work is done and the harvesting is complete, the tools are to be gathered in again. They are only on loan, and they've got to be returned. Since the Abbot is the exemplar of Christ for the brothers, I see that Christ has lent me all the good things in my life. This includes the earth, everything.
Benedict tells us to enjoy these things-- and return them. We don't possess. He is telling us about attitude, about the attitude of detachment-- or better non-attachment. This is about the interior disposition of the heart. Benedict is quite clear that outward conformity doesn't count. There must be unity-- this theme is a keynote-- between the exterior and the interior.
St. Benedict gives us a specific example from a particular time and place-- behavior in choir. When singing the psalms, the heart, voice and mind must be in harmony. At times I've lived guided by others expectations. Put on the mask; pretend that something is there and in place when it was not. Benedict blows this sky high when he says that our handling of things can come out right only if the starting point is the right attitude. In my case, this has applied particularly to my sons as they've grown up. I have had to realize they are on loan. I mustn't seek to control; I mustn't possess; I mustn't try to organize their lives, telling myself that it's for their own good and that I know better than they do. No, I have to let them go free. I have to handle them with care, respect and with all courtesy of love. - Esther de Waal
I need an attitude adjustment.


  1. Terry - we could use some high powered prayer. Thanks

    P.S. The first step to adjusting your attitude is knowing that it needs adjusting. You seem to be on your way.

  2. Our Lady in her seven sorrows demonstrates this interior/exterior unity---she never fled either in her physical person or in her interior (can we imagine the blessed state of her interior life??:>) from the will of God. And she prays for us---we are blessed and loved.


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