Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB

What are you going to do with your life today?

Be compassion!
Be love!
Be mercy!
Be kindness!
Be gentleness!
Be ... !

What are you going to do with your life today?

Join us in praying for vocations everywhere / everyone - and of course particularly to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA.
Blessings of peace to one and all!

Loving God, we believe that Benedictine monasticism bears fruit for the world. We are grateful for the witness of the Benedictine sisters among us. May their faithfulness to the monastic way of life awaken women to the stirrings of the Spirit. Bless others with the courage to accept the invitation to seek you in community through prayer and ministry. May these seekers find fulfillment for the longing in their hearts: in communal life well-lived and in loving attention to the needs of your people. May they be upheld as we are upheld by your constancy and steadfast love. We ask this with confidence in your goodness and grace, now and evermore. Amen.

Treasure chastity. (RB 4:64)

This is the only instance in the Rule of Benedict that the word chastity appears. A similar reference can be found in Chapter 72:8 "Among themselves they show the pure love of sisters/brothers." With these two statements embedded in Benedict's writings one can see the influence of his predecessor John Cassian (c 360-435).

Chastity, according to Cassian, takes a long time to acquire, because its full beauty presupposes the presence of many other virtues. He wrote: "The more someone makes progress in gentleness and patience of heart, the further she/he will advance in bodily purity. The further she/he drives away the passion of anger so will she/he more acquire chastity." (Conferences 12:6)

Cassian believed that chastity could not be attained by unaided human effort; for him it was the work of grace: "Even though we continually work hard at monastic observances, we are instructed by the teaching of experience that pure chastity is the result of the generosity of divine grace." (Conferences 12:4, 16)

For the one who has arrived at such a high level of virtue, the road toward union with God and selfless service of the neighbor becomes possible. At the end of Chapter 7 Benedict sums up chastity, pure love, purity of heart: "Through this love, all that we once performed with dread, we will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue." (RB 7:68-69)

Christ has no body but yours,
no hands,
no feet on earth but yours,
yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world,
yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
yours are the hands,
with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands,
yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes,
you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands,
no feet on earth but yours,
yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Live by God's commandments every day. (RB 4:63)

May we be always attentive to interior promptings through Lectio Divina and inspiration. Monastic life can be defined as daily fidelity, evidence more by deeds than by words. Our vocation is to be constantly in a loving relationship with God. To the extent that our desire for God is real, it will permeate everything we do - always, every day, every hour, every minute, every second.

As Benedict says in the Prologue, Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: "If you hear God's voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps. 95:8)" [Prologue 9-10].

May our hearts be always open!