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Feb. 2

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX February 2, June 3, October 3 Chapter 7: On Humility The fifth degree of humility is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts that enter his
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2004
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      February 2, June 3, October 3
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The fifth degree of humility
      is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
      that enter his heart
      or the sins committed in secret,
      but that he humbly confess them.
      The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
      "Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
      and again,
      "Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
      for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
      And the Prophet likewise says,
      "My offense I have made known to You,
      and my iniquities I have not covered up.
      I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
      and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).

      REFLECTION

      To hide one's symptoms from one's physician is to court misdiagnosis.
      If you lie to your therapist, why bother with analysis? Both these
      tactics obscure illness rather than produce health. The "health" they
      seek is nothing more than a falsehood, an illusion based on an
      incomplete view.

      It is natural for us to wish to wish that parents and abbots think
      the best of us. It is supernatural to want them to know the truth
      when they need to know it to help us. That "natural" tendency in us,
      however, is founded on a very unlovely kink: the desire to ALWAYS
      look good, ALWAYS seem in control, even when we are floundering in
      deep trouble. If parents or bosses or abbots think very highly of us,
      this temptation is even stronger; we'd rather not burst their bubble,
      we think it is to our advantage not to do so.

      The monastery is a school of the Lord's service, but it is a hospital
      of sorts, too. When we place ourselves under the care of the Holy
      Rule and an abbot, we have admitted our need for care, for treatment,
      for progress. Why deny ourselves any of those things now? I'm not
      sure, but I'll bet there are tons of easy ways to fake one's way out
      of chemical dependency treatment. Why bother? Unlike many in
      substance abuse treatment, we came to Benedictinism of our own accord.

      In Eastern monasticism, the tradition is for the disciple to confess
      thoughts to the elder every day. This is considered a crucially
      important part of monastic formation. It humbles the disciple and it
      leaves the elder in a much better position to train and advise.
      Granted, with many monastics in and out of house, most abbots would
      be unable to do this daily, but every monastic needs a confessor or
      spiritual director or spiritual co-struggler who can really know
      what's going on in their souls.

      Parents know how it feels when a child has need of them and never
      lets them know. It is an awful feeling and often the child's reasons
      (like fear or deceit,) for keeping them in the dark hurt even more.
      No parent, no boss and no abbot is perfect. They are all human and
      flawed, just like us. However, when we avoid trusting them with some
      of our dark side, we cheat ourselves of a chance to see their
      greatness called forth in compassion, mercy and wisdom.

      Balance, common sense and moderation obtain here, too. It is one
      thing not to tell one's abbot or boss something because one wishes to
      be thought well of, quite another to realize that some things, when
      there truly is no need to tell them, are best left unsaid. As Father
      Damian of St. Leo is fond of saying: "The truth is not always
      nourishing." Those of us inside monasteries live with our abbots. We
      get to know them. At St. Leo, we had a fairly common agreement that
      there were some things one had better NOT bring up to Abbot Fidelis
      because they would flip him out. Many could say the same things of
      their parents or boss. This is a different animal from keeping
      superiors deluded into thinking we're doing fine. However, SOMEONE
      needs to know: a spiritual director or confessor. We are too weak to
      trod the path alone.

      Family life, in either monastery or home church, must be founded on
      truth and reality to be healthy. All of us have seen flaming examples
      of dysfunction when it is not. Even though sometimes a mother will
      say: "For heaven's sake, don't tell your father!" there has to be
      SOME connection with reality. Not only is humility (in one sense,)
      truth, but Jesus, too is the Truth. Why on earth bother seeking Him
      if we don't want Truth?

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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