Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB

...change from evil ways in the future. RB 4:58

Michael Casey, OCSO, suggests that Benedict may be talking about "everyday or habitual sins" - the sort of failures that could be so buried in us that we don't even realize that they are present. Then some kind soul points out the something we are doing or not doing, saying or not saying that is affecting others in a not so good way.

So what to do:
- listen
- pay attention
- admit the failure
- be open to change
- check behavior
- consider words
- rely on God's grace & mercy

Want to add anything to the list?
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Your way of acting should be different from the world's way...
Place your hope in God alone ...
Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer ...
Live by God's commandments every day ...
Respect the elders ...
Love the young ...
Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ ...
Never lose hope in God's mercy ...
What the eye has not seen nor the ear heard,
God has prepared for those who love (I Cor. 2:9) ...


Every day with tears and sighs confess your past sin to God in prayer. RB 4:57

John Cassian, about a century before Benedict, had a profound influence on Benedict. In his Conferences, John speaks of two types of “compunction” of heart. The first is a sense of “joy” which wells up in the heart and helps one to become aware of the presence of God often by a sudden illumination of goodness, beauty, kindness or grace. The second arises from a deep awareness of my humanness and the overwhelming gift of God's love no matter. For both John and Benedict there may be sighs of repentance and tears of joy. Deep authentic silence is a hallowed place for compunction of heart.

Devote yourself to prayer. (RB 4:56)

The first challenge in prayer is getting started.
The second challenge is daily being faithful to engaging in prayer.

Monastic prayer is fundamentally the time when we allow ourselves to experience more fully our desire for God. In a monastery that follows Benedict's Rule, a form of frequent prayer is established by regular communal prayer. Throughout the day monastics are summoned to leave whatever work is at hand and lift up their hands and hearts to God through participation in the Liturgy of the Hours. Fruitful participation in the Liturgy of the Hours is dependent on fidelity to personal prayer, to lectio divina, and some time of recollection and reflection during each day. The "call" from Benedict is to make more room for prayer each and every day.


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.