Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB

Saint Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-ca. 547)
Patriarch of Western Monasticism

Listen carefully to my instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart. Prologue 1

The twelfth step of humility is that we always manifest humility
in our bearing no less that in our hearts… Chapter 7:2

Let us consider how we ought to sing the psalms in such a way
that our minds are in harmony with our voices. Chapter 19:7

In all things God may be glorified. Chapter 57:9

Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ,
and may Christ bring us all together to everlasting life. Chapter 72:11-12

With Christ’s help,
keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. Chapter 73:8

Blessings of peace to one and all!

Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. RB 4:72

It is "in Christ's love," as Benedict points out, that we find the possibility of meeting hostility with kindness, prayer and eventually love. There is no room for hatred in a heart that is drawn into God's love. It is important to look at our own actions, behaviors and words. We are not always as blameless as we would like to believe. Reconciliation is impossible as long as we regard ourselves as the only injured party. Any attitude which makes us superior to another will undermine unity and will chip away at our own integrity. More often than not, the path to reconciliation is cleared by our being willing to be the first, humbly and sincerely, to ask for forgiveness.

Respect the elders and love the young. RB 4:70-71

Benedict reminds us that each person
- has a specific place within the (world) community
- is to have an open ear and heart to voices of experience
- is to be aware that every new-comer brings the gift of fresh eyes and thoughts
- is called to live a life of gratitude, respect and love
- is called to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of all creation

Shun arrogance. RB 4:69

So being pleased with oneself might seem to be OK, especially if there is good reason to be pleased. However, lest we get puffed up with pride, Benedict reminds us that everything comes from God as gift. "Those who reverence God should not become elated over their good deeds; they judge it is God's strength, not their own, that brings about the good in them" (RB Prol. 29).

John Cassian, predecessor of Benedict, wrote in Conference 15:7: Humility is the teacher of all the virtues, the most solid foundation of the heavenly building. It is Christ's special and greatest gift.

We make progress in humility by being immersed in the Gospels and developing a personal relationship with Christ. From this relationship we become aware that we are known and loved and lovable.

This is the model for healthy relationships
- to know self
- to know another
- to be known by another
- to love self
- to love another
- to be loved by another

Everything is gift!
Everything is grace!

Do not love quarreling. RB 4:68

From the first few words of Benedict's Rule
we hear what can make quarreling less prevalent.
"Listen! Listen ... with the ear of your heart." (Prologue 1).

We are to foster a culture of listening to others with profound respect. We are to acknowledge the fact that others have a piece of the truth that we have not heard yet or paid attention to.

Benedict calls us to be open and mindful of what is being said. He reminds us often that different viewpoints are needed before arriving at a healthy level of common agreement.

Somethings I have been thinking about lately:
Am I really open to hear with others have to say
- or am I too attached to my own viewpoint?
Why might I argue with another person
- is it because I feel threatened by their point of view?
- is it because I may have to change?
Do I live as if I am on a One-Way Street
- my way is the only way?
Can I take in another's point of view and blend it with mine
- so that together we can move forward on a common path?