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Sept. 28

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Lillian s sister, who has brain cancer, and for Jerry, a seriously troubled young man who is homeless, also for Ed, paranoid
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2003
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      Prayers, please, for Lillian's sister, who has brain cancer, and for
      Jerry, a seriously troubled young man who is homeless, also for Ed,
      paranoid schizophrenia. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
      Thanks so much. JL

      January 28, May 29, September 28
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      As for self-will,
      we are forbidden to do our own will
      by the Scripture, which says to us,
      "Turn away from your own will" (Eccles. 18:30),
      and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God
      that His will be done in us.
      And rightly are we taught not to do our own will
      when we take heed to the warning of Scripture:
      "There are ways which seem right,
      but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell" (Prov. 16:25);
      and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless:
      "They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will."

      And as for the desires of the flesh,
      let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us,
      when he says to the Lord,
      "Every desire of mine is before You" (Ps. 37:10).

      REFLECTION

      Revolutions usually have several things in common: they respond to a
      need, they go too far in some areas, not far enough in others and
      they tend to brand those not agreeing with them as criminal or
      psychotic. Look at Soviet Russia for most of the 20th century and you
      will see all of these. Look further back at the French Revolution and
      you will find that 1917 in Petrograd offered nothing new, perhaps new
      names for certain aspects, but nothing else.

      The last decades of the 20th century saw a tremendous psychological
      revolution in the West. Its effect were perhaps greatest in some
      religious circles, where those once wary of psychology now embraced
      it more or less wholesale. Pieces of our psycho-spiritual world view
      definitely needed change and correction. Unfortunately, however, like
      the Bolsheviks and French before them, some ardent revolutionaries
      shot the Imperial family and guillotined a lot of otherwise very fine
      people. Their zeal went a bit too far and they were often followed
      unquestioningly.

      In those years, a close and scathing look was taken at religious
      obedience and the personal will. It certainly was necessary. Abuses
      had obtained under the accept-without-any-question syndrome.

      Sadly, but predictably, the pendulum swung in a very un-Benedictine
      fashion to the opposite extreme: question everything and accept
      nothing. Personal will, formerly maligned as a foolish, worthless and
      even dangerous entity was now elevated to lofty, noble heights that
      it frankly did not deserve. Not astoundingly, both extremes missed
      the middle road of truth.

      Human will is at once potentially noble, yet dreadfully flawed.
      Without God and grace assisting, the prognosis is not good. For
      Christians, however, God's grace and aid ARE available, but they come
      at the price of cooperation and cooperation demands a certain
      sacrifice of our own wills.

      It is perhaps harder for us to see that necessity of abandoning our
      wills than it has been for many before us. We are traipsing through
      the spiritual road with all kinds of extraneous baggage about
      autonomy and maturity and self-actualization carried to false
      extremes. Balance, always balance, always moderation in the
      Benedictine way!

      Our wills can be good and wonderful. It is, after all, with our wills
      that we answer God's call. But part of His call is to forget the self
      and forget its willful tantrums. Our wills are the natural habitat
      and environment of the false self- it thrives there!

      It is fatal to spiritual growth and to community to infer too great a
      maturity or too little. Monastics are not children, but most adults
      have not totally arrived, either! It is foolish to trust those under
      our care with nothing, but equally so to empower them to virtually
      anything. That's just not how monastic life works. St. Benedict
      bluntly says that his followers DESIRE to live under an abbot. If any
      have seriously changed their minds about this, maybe it's time to go.

      A good superior will keep one from being too easy on oneself, but
      will also protect one from being too hard on oneself. I cannot tell
      you the number of times submitting a matter to my superior has
      resulted in something FAR less gruesome than what I had obsessively
      planned for myself!

      Most of the wonderful things said about personal will are true, to a
      point, but the revolution failed to emphasize the fact that our wills
      do NOT come with gyroscopes. As such, their trustworthiness as
      compasses is far from absolute.

      The superior, the Rule, the Gospel, these are the gyroscopes that
      enable us to will true North! Without these helps, our journey could
      very easily make the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" look like a Sunday
      afternoon swan boat ride in Boston's Public Gardens.


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