Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB

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.

Rejoice heavenly spirits! Sing choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God. Jesus Christ, our Savior is risen!

The Exultet has roots in the first centuries of Christianity. In form, it is a “thanksgiving,” with similarities to the Eucharistic prayer. It is a call to exult, to rejoice, to sing!

Sound the trumpet of salvation! Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your God.

The Exultet calls to mind the greatness of God in the paschal mystery. Through the chanted melody we remember the history of salvation and meditate on the effects of that salvation in the life of every believer.

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the joyous song of all God’s people!

The text of the Exultet invites heaven, earth and the people of God to rejoice in this “most blessed of all nights.” It recalls Israel’s exodus, then proclaims a new exodus as Christians everywhere move from slavery to freedom, and all people of God share in the rising of Christ.

This is the night! This is the night! This is the night! This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.

With great rejoicing the Paschal Candle is offered, “a pillar of fire, mingled with the lights of heaven,” where we meet Christ, the Morning Star, whose resurrection dispels darkness forever.

Accept this Easter Candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God. Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!

Christ is risen! Christ is truly risen!

My feet
are a different color
a different gender
were born in a different country
believe in a different god

My feet
are barred from equal opportunity
live in fear of hate crimes
are homeless
are burned from chemical warfare
are lonely

My feet
carry the burden of having killed the innocent in wartime
are angry
are under employed
are banished from human rights

My feet
have stood in the lines of many soup kitchens
are scarred from violence and abuse
carry the weight of addiction

My feet
stand their ground
have run in fear

Have you washed these feet?

Do you understand what I have done for you? You address me as "teacher," and fitting enough, for that is what I am. If I have washed your feet - I who am teacher - then you must wash each other's feet. What I did was to give you an example. As I have done, so you must do. (John 13)

Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times. RB 49:2-3

Benedict knew that few people could really handle Lent year round, so he encourages his followers to at least keep the season of Lent especially pure.

Perhaps we might take extra time to deepen our relationship with God.

Perhaps we might respond to others’ needs with less thought about our needs.

Perhaps Benedict is
- showing a way to help us with interior transformation.
- asking us to make Christ the center of our lives.
- expecting us to be the manifestation of God’s presence in the world.

March 21 - The Passing of Benedict

Six days before Benedict's death, he ordered his tomb to be opened. Soon he was attacked by fever and was weakened with severe suffering. As the illness grew worse every day, Benedict asked his disciples to carry him into the oratory. There he strengthened himself for his departure. While the hands of his disciples held up his weak limbs, Benedict stood with his hands raised to heaven and breathed his last breath amidst words of prayer.

On that same day a revelation concerning Benedict came to two brothers, one of them resting in his cell, the other a long way off, in the form of a self-same vision. For they saw a road going in an easterly direction covered with carpets and shining with innumerable lamps which led from the cell right up to heaven. Above stood the shining figure of a man in venerable array who asked them if they knew whose road it was. The brothers admitted that they did not. So he said to them, "This is the road by which Benedict, beloved of God, ascends to heaven." Thus the death of the holy man was seen by the disciples present and was also made known to those absent by the sign foretold to them.

Benedict was buried in the oratory of blessed John the Baptist which he himself had built after he destroyed the altar of Apollo.

The Life of Saint Benedict
by Gregory the Great