Prayers, please, for Linda, breast biopsy on Friday at 11 AM, and
continued prayers for Sr. Lany Jo and her dying Mom. God's will is
best. All is mercy and grace! Thanks so much. NRN JL
January 3, May 4, September 3
And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.
The tenderness of St. Benedict, as well as his tender image of God,
is evident all through this portion, harking back to his fatherly
affection at the beginning of the Prologue. The intensity, the
sweetness of the last lines today is so great that it borders on too
much. This must be St. Benedict at his nearly gushingly most
sincere, and that is a good time to listen with extra care to him,
since he doesn't just gush on every other page!
In the midst of all this sweetness, look at the question he puts in
the Lord's mouth: "Who is the one who will have life and desires to
see good days?" Granted, it is a quote from the Psalms, but St.
Benedict could have used something else, or written his own, or
employed a rhetorical question. He didn't, though, he used this one
and that is most fortunate.
He does not have God in the teeming marketplace hollering out: "Who
wants to be a monk? Who wants to be a nun? Who wants to be an
Oblate?" (Chuckle: if God DID call out "Who wants to be an Oblate?",
how many people you know would yell back: "What's an Oblate??") No
doubt, for some on the monastic way, those may have been the first
questions. For many others, it was not nearly that direct.
This question allows us to ponder (if God and you will pardon the
phrase,) the Divine sneakiness. How many of the stories we hear of
how people came to the monastic way and were drawn to the Benedictine
life give witness to God's loving "sneakiness." God cannot lie and
His query here is not a lie, but He can certainly CHOOSE the truth He
uses to draw us. Like any parent of a stubborn child, He knows that
some approaches work better than others.
I know Brother Bernard Aurentz, now dead, joined St. Leo because he
liked Florida and thought the monastery was on the Gulf of Mexico!
The picture of a palm tree by water in a vocation ad sure sold him!
He just didn't realize they were on a large lake, 40 miles inland!
God didn't deceive him, He just didn't make the geography evident
until the guy arrived and stayed for the rest of his life.
God doesn't trick us in a wrong way, but He often allows us to do the
right thing for the wrong reason! No doubt He knows that's the only
way He could have gotten us in the door!
There is a lot more than sneakiness in this question, however. How
many times, when speaking of monastic life, or married life, or any
vocation, do we stress its harsher aspects? To some extent, monastic
life and married life get the brunt of this: "Oh, it isn't easy,
blah, blah, blah...It's no cinch, there's a lot of hardship." OK,
there is, no problem there, but there is also a lot of sweetness if
any vocation is done right.
How many people would have gotten married if the proposal included a
litany of night-feedings and diaper pails, much less if the proposal
could have announced the birth of a severely handicapped child or the
paralysis of the spouse or the tragedy of an auto accident far in the
future? We do both marriage and monastic life a great harm when we
emphasize only the difficult things.
There IS joy in marriage, great joy, and there is in the monastic
way, too. Just like any good proposal, God asks us to respond to the
good things He is offering and they are not slight!
Love and prayers,