Prayers, please, for Maya, terminal cancer, and for Josh, fighting a
cold at mid-term exam time, also for Michael Celie, whose birthday
AND feastday were yesterday, and for ole what's-his-name, yours
truly, whose feastday is today! God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. Thanks so much! JL
January 30, May 31, September 30
Chapter 7: On Humility
The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."
OK, who doesn't love their own will, or take pleasure in satisfying
their desires? Who doesn't love their sexuality or some of the
dearest things they own and treasure? For a healthy person, all of
these are very normal loves. For some of us, one or another of these
loves is very much part of our vocation, for example, in marriage
one's sexuality is the very means of self-gift. The key is to keep
them ordinate, in line and yes, balanced!
The means to this step is neither to go overboard hunting for things
we hate to afflict ourselves with nor to insist on our own way at all
costs. The real meaning here is found in the statement that Christ
came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father. We don't see
Jesus going out His way to find things distasteful to Him, nor do we
see Him stoically and resolutely refusing to enjoy things that please
Him. His will is one with the Father's. He also has a human nature
that prayed in Gethsemane to be spared from that Divine will, but, in
Jesus, it never wins.
Alas, in us, that human will often DOES win: why else would we be
struggling along the monastic way all our lives? Unlike Jesus, we are
not sinless, we are able to sin and often do so all too gladly! We
must daily- even from minute to minute- turn from the bad in our own
wills. It is an ongoing fight, but that is what conversatio morum
means, "conversion of manner of life"! As Benedictines we will-
indeed, must- always be straining against the negative goad, always
be seeking the place of greater light and good.
The will of God is frequently very hard to see. For some of us, at
some times, it is downright impossible to see. There will always be
times when we must trundle along blindly, without our senses to
reassure us. That is why trust is such an integral part of our
monastic struggle. At those times, the only way haltingly forward is
to embrace the blinding darkness before us and firmly, trustingly
clutch the hand of Christ. Even in the darkness, we must say: "Jesus,
I trust in You!"
Love and prayers,