Living the Zeal of Benedict

a blog by Sister Marilyn Schauble, OSB

Remember the teachings: "Do what they say, not what they do (Mt 23:3)."RB 4:61

Benedict is pointing to an ideal rather than to the reality of life. This ideal suggests that we teach by both example and by words. Many times we are converted by the very words we are using to teach some one else.

Another way to say it might be: BE WHAT YOU SAY!


Earlier monastic experiments had stressed rigorous asceticism and self-denial, Benedict's Rule was designed for ordinary human beings. The elements of disciple was shifted from externals to the interior, from the flesh to the will. In place of an emphasis on fasting and mortification Benedict substituted the disciple of humility, obedience, and accommodation to community life. Rather than envisioning a collection of individuals competing in the quest for perfection, Benedict stressed the role of community as a school for holiness. His emphasis on the balance of work and prayer, his validation of community, and his regulation of monastic life eventually set the pattern for Western monasticism. For centuries his monasteries offered the witness of an alternative society governed by the spirit of Christ. Few saints have left such a palpable impact on their world.

(direct quote from July 11, 2018 - Give Us the Day - Liturgical Press, Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN)

Hate the urgings of self-will. (RB 4:60)

Self-will is having full control over one's life. My choices are made with only my benefit and convenience in my mind.

Communal existence requires the merging of my individual goals with the goals of the group - the common good.

These strong words of Benedict about self-will are best interpreted in the context of removing a serious obstacle to my spiritual growth. They are not about devaluing my personal worth. They are based on the recognition that my progress in the monastic life is the work of God and as long as I keep some aspects of my life in my own hands, I am liable to put myself outside the path that God has for me - eternal life.

Do not gratify the promptings of the flesh (Gal. 5;16) ... RB 4:59

It's all about making choices!

Will my choices lead to long-term commitment or are they invitations to pleasure that is not lasting?

It's all about making choices!

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!