Prayers, please, for Elizabeth Bell, our newest Oblate novice at
Petersham. Thanks so much! JL
March 26, July 26, November 25
Chapter 46: On Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters
When anyone is engaged in any sort of work,
whether in the kitchen, in the cellar, in a shop,
in the bakery, in the garden, while working at some craft,
or in any other place,
and she commits some fault,
or breaks something, or loses something,
or transgresses in any other way whatsoever,
if she does not come immediately
before the Abbess and the community
of her own accord
to make satisfaction and confess her fault,
then when it becomes known through another,
let her be subjected to a more severe correction.
But if the sin-sickness of the soul is a hidden one,
let her reveal it only to the Abbess or to a spiritual mother,
who knows how to cure her own and others' wounds
without exposing them and making them public.
Even though the Holy Rule reminds us elsewhere that God and His
angels "see us in every place," that can be easy to forget. One of
the dumbest human fallacies is to think one acts in private, unseen.
We never do, but thinking that we do can lead to an even greater
fallacy of thinking "I got away with it!"
Sorry, folks, we don't. We get away with nothing. God always sees and
this chapter invites us to behave as if we really believed that, it
shakes us to awareness that we OUGHT to believe that and act
accordingly. AA's maxim, "You are not alone," holds even more true
for us: we are NEVER alone. Never. It's just that we forget He's
around most of the time. Hence, some of this chapter's focus is to
help us remind ourselves He's around at least more than we ordinarily
are aware of that.
Being absolutely always and everywhere conscious of the presence of
God is not possible to human efforts alone. It is a special grace
which God gives, formerly known as "infused contemplation." So don't
get compulsive or obsessive and decide you're going to be perpetually
aware of His presence by your own hard work. You aren't. None of us
are. But you CAN get a lot better at it, and He will help any soul
that seeks Him.
As an aside, I have been privileged to know an individual who does
enjoy that infused grace of always being conscious of God's presence.
I think it is a fetching humility that this person assumed EVERYONE
had that, that it was nothing special. It continued for a long time
before a savvy confessor realized what was going on and pointed out
that the rest of us were not so blessed. Fortunately, this deepened
the humility of the soul in question, and does to this day.
OK, so we have to stop thinking we get away with stuff, but we also
have to be aware that often we ARE completely unobserved by any human
agents. There are things we do that remain utterly secret and hidden
in the human sense of the word. Exposing these wounds for treatment
is both very important and something which must be done with
discretion. Wisely, St. Benedict says you ought not to spill your
beans to just anyone. Even more wisely, he realizes that sometimes
the Abbess will not be the best candidate for such disclosure and
leaves the road open to other spiritual companions or directors.
Some one HAS to know. Otherwise your hidden guilt will eat you alive
like a cancer. On the other hand, be very careful WHO knows. That can
make all the difference in the world!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA