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Sept. 21

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX January 21, May 22, September 21 Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works To fulfill God s commandments daily in one s deeds. To love chastity.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 21, 2003

      January 21, May 22, September 21
      Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

      To fulfill God's commandments daily in one's deeds.
      To love chastity.
      To hate no one.
      Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy.
      Not to love contention.
      To beware of haughtiness.
      And to respect the seniors.
      To love the juniors.
      To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
      To make peace with one's adversary before the sun sets.
      And never to despair of God's mercy.
      These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft.
      If we employ them unceasingly day and night,
      and return them on the Day of Judgment,
      our compensation from the Lord
      will be that wage He has promised:
      "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
      what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).

      Now the workshop
      in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks
      is the enclosure of the monastery
      and stability in the community.


      Employ them ALL? "Unceasingly, day and night,"??? In the stability of
      community?? Give me a break! You have GOT to be kidding. There are
      lots of these I couldn't pull off if I spent a year working on each
      one alone- and I do NOT have 72 years left. This is beyond me.

      You bet it is, folks! It's beyond all of us, but He isn't kidding,
      and neither is St. Benedict. Both know something that our egocentric
      eyes can miss- it ain't about us or our strength, it is ALL about our
      weakness and the complete triumph of grace. The effective use of
      these tools is grace and gift. Any successes besides that are nothing
      but clever gymnastics.

      The ability to become holy comes from God, from grace. No one at all
      can do it without that. We must cooperate with His grace and mercy
      and gifts. We dare not say we are unable to be holy. Holy is not
      linked to our ability, but to our receptivity to God's grace and His
      mercy and will. He makes up for what is lacking in us, for lacks that
      we could never supply. That's the wonder of all this!

      Now, as for stability, dryer sheets may have many other handy uses
      (cleaning your monitor or TV screen is one of them,) but they will
      not soften clothes unless the clothes stay in the dryer with them and
      tumble about for as long as necessary. Of course, one can use a dryer
      without such softening sheets, but then the clothes cling statically,
      inappropriately and inordinately to things and each other, resisting
      being pulled apart for their proper uses by (forgive me,) downright
      shocking means. How like monastics without stability, community and

      Stability is not a lot of good without community, neither is
      enclosure. There is a mental illness appropriate to each: the
      catatonic moves hardly at all and the agoraphobic never goes out. The
      dryer sheet essential to both enclosure and stability is genuine,
      sometimes annoying, tumbling community. The heat employed, at times
      intense, is reality checks, objectivity, outside-referenced truth.
      Like any good dryer or community, there may be a separate setting for
      delicates and permanent press, but everybody gets the heat, one way
      or the other.

      If you are one of the many Benedictines living in the world, just
      substitute family or circle of friends for community and home for
      monastic enclosure. I think you get the picture. Community is
      any connected group, workplace or home. Enclosure is your home, as
      well as your heart.

      Without being obsessive, or making the people who live with you
      crazy, guard what comes into your enclosure, both heart and home.
      There is a switch on your TV. There is a less visible, but equally
      effective one on your mouth. There is a useful one on your heart and
      thoughts, too.

      Enclosure is not a prison, neither should your home be. The Middle
      Ages spoke of the "Paradisus claustralis" , the cloistered Paradise.
      Every home, for one or for several hundred, must strive for that
      paradise. It is comfort and leisure to an extent, it is peace and
      order to an extent, it is the proper arena of love and spiritual
      growth. The components will necessarily vary from case to case, as
      will their balanced levels.

      Guard the people who tumble in the dryer with you, too, especially
      the annoying ones. Without the moisture they share with you, you
      would soon wither in the heat and die, you would go well beyond
      simply drying to utter destruction. And please, the next time you
      think the dryer is hell (and we all do sometimes,) bear in mind the
      scarring charms and delicate fragrance of damp mildew.....Yecch!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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