Prayers for all our Vincents on their feastday!I can think of two
Fathers and one Brother in particular! Prayers, too, for St. Vincent
Archabbey! May God fill them all with grace and peace and joy and
love and salvation! God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
Thanks so much! JL
January 27, May 28, September 27
Chapter 7: On Humility
Let a man consider
that God is always looking at him from heaven,
that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes
and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels.
This is what the Prophet shows us
when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts,
in the words "Searcher of minds and hearts is God" (Ps. 7:10)
and again in the words "The Lord knows the thoughts of men" (Ps.
Again he says,
"You have read my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 138:3)
and "The thoughts of people will confess to You" (Ps. 75:11).
In order that he may be careful
about his wrongful thoughts, therefore,
let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart,
"Then shall I be spotless before Him,
if I have kept myself from my iniquity" (Ps. 17:24).
"Consider," "constantly," "careful" and others: the mindfulness words
are all over this reading! In fact, looking back to the first word of
the Holy Rule, "Listen," we could even say that listening itself is a
very focused form of mindfulness.
Why is mindfulness so important to St. Benedict? We find the answer
in this reading. The Lord is the searcher of our thoughts and minds,
He knows our thoughts. Even though the quotes play here a bit with
some contradiction, stating that God sees from afar, nevertheless the
message is clear: God searches human thought because He is present in
human minds. Even in our evil thoughts, the omnipresence of God
cannot be avoided. One thing that makes such thoughts evil is that we
drag our minds, and the presence of God right along with them, into
Mindfulness is important as keeping guard, but it is also important
as a practice of the presence of God. Rest assured, we do not "put"
God into our minds; He is already there. Mindfulness in this sense is
very closely akin to the Carmelite Br. Lawrence's "Practice of the
Presence of God."
We do not need to "find" God, we need to clean our lenses or maybe
get an altogether new prescription for our glasses. God is with us,
He is within, He is always there. Our careful response to this
presence must be twofold. Yes, we watch our behavior, but we also
maintain focus on WHY we watch: because God is present in our minds
and hearts. We must keep our eyes on both things.
If you have a small child in your home, you watch many, many things
you would not dream of watching if the child were not there. I know
this all too well. I have a house largely set up for adults. Put an
inquisitive three year old in such a milieu and my heart beats faster
as I try to get cleaning supplies out of reach and warn the parents
of this or that hazard. Presence changes things and ought to change
us. We could very well be terribly sorry if we leave everything
exactly as it was.
A house changes when a guest enters. Don't ask me how, I don't know,
but I have cared for the guesthouse for seven years now, and I know
it is true. That's what mindfulness points us to: the presence of a
Guest. We have to be aware of the Guest for the change to happen. In
my guesthouse years, I have more than once felt the house was empty
because I didn't know it wasn't. (This can, alas, be embarrassing at
times, but no details....) Mindfulness is always knowing the Guest is
Love and prayers,