Forgot to paste it in. Mea culpa! JL
January 18, May 19, September 18
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the
whole soul, the whole strength.
Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
Then not to murder.
Not to commit adultery.
Not to steal.
Not to covet.
Not to bear false witness.
To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
To chastise the body.
Not to become attached to pleasures.
To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
To help in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To become a stranger to the world's ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
St. Benedict follows Christ's teaching of the two greatest
commandments, putting them first in his list. He had, however, also
lived in community, so look what he puts at #3: not to murder!
Dame Laurentia Maclachlan, OSB, Abbess of Stanford and friend of
George Bernard Shaw once said that the miracle was not that so many
nuns could live together, but that they'd never had a murder.
In a very real sense, living the first two instruments would render
the rest of the Holy Rule more or less superfluous commentary. If we
lived them, no doubt God would reveal the rest to us in time. Ah, but
there's the rub: in time...
We can easily forget that the Holy Rule is a time and labor-saving
device. It was not written for arbitrary control, it was written to
save us the lengthy process of learning all its wisdom unaided. Given
our hearts that God has placed in us, He probably would lead us all
to be Benedictines sooner or later, one by one, even if there were no
Rule. But, again, the clincher here is sooner or later. The Rule not
only saves us a lot of time and trial and error, it also frees us to
do good long before our own stumbling efforts could ever have
produced as much fruit.
A final note about preferring "nothing to the love of Christ." This
line is so popular and frequently duplicated that we can become blind
to it, shrugging and saying: "Oh, yeah...favorite Benedictine
phrase..." Stop today and look at it, REALLY look at it. People often
glance and look away because they fail to prefer nothing, but hey,
that's the human condition! You, me and most of us strugglers are in
the same boat, so relax and look at what it means carefully.
If we truly preferred nothing to the love of Christ, we would be
sinless saints. We would need no other rule! Small wonder that most
of us read and look away in embarrassment. But ALL of us, every one,
can chisel at that mountain day by day, resolutely. A day in which
the seemingly tiniest and most token of obstacles to the love of
Christ is conquered and removed is a day of great rejoicing in
heaven! There is a tremendously humbling difference between all we
ought to do and what we can do. Start with the latter and strive for
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta observed, "We can do no great things,
only small things with great love." We HAVE to start small, because,
for most of us, if it weren't for small, we'd never start at all! Ah,
but those tiniest things done with love delight the heart of the
Divine Merciful Christ as none could ever imagine! Go for it!!!
Love and prayers,
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