Prayers, please, for Mrs. Kiely, mother of a priest, hospitalized
with heart problems and pneumonia, also for John, cancer, Joe,
Vietnam vet, and all the Hunter family. Prayers, too, for Jackie
Gatesman, nurse, wife and grandmother, who died suddenly, and for her
family. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much!
January 21, May 22, September 21
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
To fulfil 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.
One very quick little thought here: even the tools we do manage to
pull off using are not our own: we are to return them on the Day of
Judgment!!! Hey, before we fall all over ourselves, patting our own
backs for this or that, we are doing it all with borrowed tools!
Humbling thought there!
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 enclosure!
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. The stick-to-it-tiveness I'm afraid you'll have
to provide yourself, but 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 your
think they dryer is hell (and we all do sometimes,) bear in mind the
scarring charms and delicate fragrance of damp mildew.....Yecch!
At the center of most older monasteries was a garden, a cloister
garth, a deliberate attempt at a paradise in the heart of things. In
the heart of those gardens, as Sister Donald Cocoran would gladly
tell you, was usually a fountain. (Sr. Donald is justifiably proud of
her Camadolese emblem, a fountain refreshing two birds.) That
fountain, the heart of the heart of everything, is love and mercy. Go
for it, folks!
Love and prayers,