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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX Mea culpa! January 20, May 21, September 20 Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works To fear the Day of Judgment. To be in dread of hell. To
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21 5:37 AM
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      +PAX

      Mea culpa!

      January 20, May 21, September 20
      Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

      To fear the Day of Judgment.
      To be in dread of hell.
      To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
      To keep death daily before one's eyes.
      To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
      To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
      When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ
      immediately.
      And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
      To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
      Not to love much talking.
      Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
      Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
      To listen willingly to holy reading.
      To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
      Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past
      sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
      Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
      To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she
      herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the
      Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
      Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be
      holy, that one may be truly so called.

      REFLECTION

      Why manifest one's evil thoughts to a spiritual mother or father?
      Heavens, most in communions that practice Confession have trouble
      enough stammering out our sins with a generic mention of evil
      thoughts, let alone a detailed description of them!

      By the time he wrote this, St. Benedict had no doubt listened to a
      LOT of monastics' confess their evil thoughts. He knew the carefree,
      breezy generalities of those who lacked depth and he also knew the
      excruciating details of the scrupulous, who had too much depth! What
      he must have had to listen to in those years! Why on earth would he
      recommend a practice so difficult for both the father and the
      disciple?

      Because it works, as AA and other Twelve Step members could readily
      tell you. It offers an outside, objective opinion, a more impartial
      estimation of one's progress or lack thereof and a chance to give
      pertinent advice in the struggle. You can also get a fairly good
      barometer of where a person's struggles are focused by knowing where
      she is tempted. Satan does not waste time and effort, he does not
      duplicate services. If you are doing a wonderful job of running
      yourself to hell on a rail in a given area, you can be pretty sure
      he'll leave you alone. Remember, there are the world and the flesh to
      help him out. He delegates to one or the other!

      Some of our evil thoughts DO come from us, and these may be very
      informative, but others do not, and these also, give a better picture
      of where we actually are. Real assaults of Satan that are terribly
      noticeable usually come at a time when we are progressing. (Of
      course, there are subtle ones day in, day out, but the biggies
      usually mean we're doing SOMETHING right!)

      AA knew they were offering a spiritual program of recovery to people
      from all faiths, as well as to people of no religious background.
      They knew some Churches had one-on-one confession, others did not, so
      they included it in the 12 steps, stating that each must make known
      to oneself, to God AND to another "the exact nature" of their wrongs.
      Heavy stuff, there, but why?

      Because God, wonderful though He is, often seems not talk back, or if
      He does, to speak indirectly in ways that many of us miss. Because we
      cannot tell from our own inventory what another person can tell us
      about ourselves: we're too close to the subject to be objective!

      AA just requires a one-time shot, what Catholics would call
      a "general Confession" of all one's past sins. Many people dread it,
      but I have never heard anyone come away from the experience without
      praise for it. What a weight was lifted from them! Our fears and
      shame are so terrible when they are horrible secrets to us alone.
      They paralyze us, wholly or partially, but they ALWAYS impede us.
      Break that panicky isolation, tell the worst and find that your
      listener has at least not dropped dead of shock and you are on the
      way to learning something wonderfully necessary. None of us are
      hopeless, none of us are unlovable (or unloved!)

      Especially when we are in the beginnings of monastic life or
      recovery, we can look at others and think they have non-stick, Teflon
      souls, that we are the horrible ones. There's a certain perverted
      form of pride going on that tells us no one could be as wicked as we
      have been. Not true at all! (Sinful pride, perverted or otherwise, never is true!)
      It is inestimably wonderful to find that out. If we fail to hear that
      message, many would succumb to the devil's tool which is far more
      effective than many: discouragement. We would sigh and walk away.

      For all of our Oblates who come from Christian traditions that do not
      practice individual confession, I recommend it- so does St. Benedict!
      If AA members can feel so freed and cleansed and uplifted by one
      shot, think what a regular dose of such reality could do for one!

      A word of caution, however, for those to whom such confession is new.
      AA does not recommend that you spill your sins out to just anyone.
      It can take time to find the right person. I firmly believe in the
      sacrament of Confession, yet there are priests I would never dream of
      confessing to unless I was really at death's door or had no other choice!

      I often like to walk into a large church and just ask the Holy Spirit to send me the
      right priest. This can be a bit of a lottery, but it has worked well
      for me. On the other hand, just because one's local pastor is local
      does NOT make him or her an automatic great choice. Follow your heart
      and ask God to guide you!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@...
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA

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