January 1, May 2, September 1
L I S T E N carefully, my child,
to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
Receive willingly and carry out effectively
your loving father's advice,
that by the labor of obedience
you may return to Him
from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
whoever you may be,
who are renouncing your own will
to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.
And first of all,
whatever good work you begin to do,
beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it,
that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.
For we must always so serve Him
with the good things He has given us,
that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children,
nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
deliver us to everlasting punishment
as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.
The Holy Rule can seem so lofty that it sometimes turns people away.
They think: "This is for those really holy people, not for me. I'll
bet it's easy for saints like them, but I couldn't even dream of
trying." Wrong on all counts and St. Benedict makes that clear.
We return "by the labor of obedience" and if we are not one of those
who has "to do battle" against our own will, he makes it abundantly
certain that he is not talking to us. If, in fact, there is anyone
for whom the Rule is a cinch, and I doubt that very much, then it was
not written for them. It was written for us who struggle, for us for
whom it is NOT easy, to help us in a battle that sometimes wears us
St. Benedict also makes his point that our distance from God is due
to our "sloth of disobedience." Yet he doesn't tell the slothful to
quit because they are worthless, he tells them they are the very ones
for whom he is writing this Rule! This is the Rule for the fallen and
beginners, this is an entry level position from which one can advance
to great sanctity, but it *IS* an entry level position!
This is the door and gate for all. This is most decidedly NOT a Rule
just for monks and nuns in monasteries. Were that so, no provision
for Oblates would ever have been made. No, this is a Rule for all who
wish to try to become better and because they have made that
intention, God "has deigned to count us among His children." There is
no more us-and-them here. Just by beginning, we become part of the
How many of us who were not in the advanced reading group as children
secretly got the suspicion that the whole class was really for the
wonder kids, not for us. How many felt that we were tokens, somehow
extraneous and just tagging along to whatever was REALLY going on?
Well, the Holy Rule is quite direct about stating that this time, it
is not at all about wonder kids: the center of its focus is the rest
of us! Now there's a refreshingly upside down and all too rare world
Love and prayers,