Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB


Listen with the ear of your heart.
This is advice from one who loves you,
welcome it and faithfully put it into practice.
If today you hear God's voice
do not harden your hearts.

Your way of acting should be different
from the world's way.
The love of Christ must come before all else.
Be the first to show respect for the other.
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Seek peace and pursue it.

Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ.
If you have a dispute with someone,
make peace with them.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Do not return evil for evil.
Do no injury
and patiently bear the injury done to you.
Love your enemies.
Bear persecution for justice sake.

Never lose hope in God's mercy.
Never lose hope in God's mercy.

Listen readily to holy reading. RB 4:55
Lectiones sanctas libenter audire. (Latin)

lectiones = lessons, readings
sanctas = holy
libenter = gladly, willingly
audire = to hear, to listen, to listen with approval, to hear favorable

Words always have deeper meaning than the letters we see.
Be attentive!

Illumine our hearts, O Christ, Lover of the people, with the spotless light of your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of your Gospel preaching. You are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, and we render glory to you together with the Creator of all and the life-giving Spirit, now and ever unto ages and ages. Amen. (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)

...speak no foolish chatter, nothing just to provoke laughter ... RB 4: 53

Benedict is suggesting that there is no place for laughter that is unkind or demeaning. Humor is not always funny. Sometimes it is deadly serious and very hurtful.

Karl Rahner speaks of the kind of laughter that Benedict would encourage. It is a laughter that is the sign of inexpressible interior joy - a faith-inspired laughter.

Prefer moderation in speech. (RB 4:52)

Do my words control a conversation?

Do I love the sound of my own voice?

Do I push another away by my words?

Do I truly listen to another?

Do I draw another out?

Do I know where another is coming from?

Do I make respectful room for another?

Let's try an experiment:
- cut our words in half
- include all at table
- listen, listen, listen

Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech. RB 4:51

Psalm 39: I said, I will be watchful of my ways for fear I should sin with my tongue. I will put a curb on my lips when the wicked stand before me.

Benedict recommends that when we speak we are to be gentle, humble, serious, few, and reasonable. Some other descriptors that might fit are mild, light, soothing, tender, calm, peaceful, placid, serene, tranquil, compassionate, merciful, down-to-earth, and well-grounded. Bet you can think of more.

The outcome, over time, could be a person living in an ongoing attitude of truth before God, before the neighbor, and before self - like a soft-soul that makes the world a kinder place by word and deed.