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Sep. 29

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX January 29, May 30, September 29 Chapter 7: On Humility We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires, for death lies close by the gate of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2002
      +PAX

      January 29, May 30, September 29
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires,
      for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.
      Hence the Scripture gives this command:
      "Go not after your concupiscences" (Eccles. 18:30).
      So therefore,
      since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov. 15:3)
      and the Lord is always looking down from heaven
      on the children of earth
      "to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 13:2),
      and since our deeds are daily,
      day and night,
      reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us,
      we must constantly beware, brethren,
      as the Prophet says in the Psalm,
      lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways
      and becoming unprofitable (Ps. 13:3);
      and lest, having spared us for the present
      because in His kindness He awaits our reformation,
      He say to us in the future,
      "These things you did, and I held My peace" (Ps. 49:21).

      REFLECTION

      Well, I'm back, at least for a while. Troubles too numerous to
      outline have occurred and some may yet put me off line again soon,
      but here I am!

      Notice how this portion of the chapter harks back to the Prologue:
      God watches us, and His angels, as well. God waits for our
      reformation. All that beautiful prose of progress and hope in the
      Prologue is intimately linked to humility. Without humility, we
      aren't going anywhere!

      Something else is going on here, since we ourselves must watch and be
      on our guard. Without they eyes of faith, we can miss the fact that
      God or the Angels are watching, but we can never miss our own
      vigilance. We always know when we are being careful and the message
      here is to live carefully all the time, to be mindful, to be on the
      lookout for deceptions and traps.

      "Go not after your concupiscences." Some older translations render
      this "lusts", while the New English Bible has "passions." Certainly,
      concupiscence means desire, but it carries, as do the other two
      terms, a connotation of sexual desire. I am not at all sure that a
      monk of St. Benedict's time would have limited it that strongly. Read
      the Desert Fathers and the Eastern Orthodox monastics of today and
      you will find that the "passions" have, in their works, a far more
      expanded sense, encompassing any desire that can go to extremes. And,
      let us face it, just about all desires, short of the desire to love
      God, can go to extremes!

      There is something reminiscent of a Buddhist principle here: all
      suffering is rooted in desire and peace is the absence of desire.
      The Buddhists certainly did not mean just sexuality. They meant, as I
      think St. Benedict did, detachment from everything, a holy
      indifference to one's condition. That's tough to pull off, and most
      human beings will never go the whole way, but every step in the
      direction of such serenity leaves us freer, freer for God, freer to
      be what He created us to be.

      We live in a secular age that goes far beyond merely baptizing our
      desires: it GLORIFIES them! The late 20th century was unmistakably
      the zenith of the self in human thought. We are actually challenged
      to
      "follow your bliss." Gee, that sounded nice the first time I heard
      it, still does. But, on the other hand, what a trap. Let me be the
      first to assure you that my blisses have gotten me repeatedly into
      one hell of a lot of trouble. We cannot become like Rousseau and
      assume a noble savage image here. Some of our "blisses" are wrong.
      They are bound to be. And some of them, even though neutral, are
      bound to make us crazy if we make them too important. "Go not after
      thy lusts" means a lot more than just sex, it means any inordinate
      desire.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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