Benedictine Spirituality Gospel Scripture Uncategorized

A call to listening obedience.

Photo by Nishta Sharma on Unsplash

My eighth #Benedictine word is obedience. Obedience is an important part of Benedictine life. Along with stability and conversion of life it makes up the three vows that we take at Profession. Benedictine obedience is based listening and responding to the call of God in our lives. To some extent that’s straightforward, the desire to respond to God is at the heart of all Christian life. But, important as it is, it is only one aspect of Benedictine obedience.

St Benedict is very clear that our obedience is not only directly to Christ, but also to our monastic superiors who represent Christ in our communities and to the whole community through the mutual obedience that calls us to recognise Christ’s voice in the other members of the community. St Benedict writes:

“Because of the holy service they have professed… They carry out the orders of the Prioress or Abbot as promptly as if the command came directly from God.”

His words are challenging, especially in an age that values personal autonomy and independence. He calls into question our assumption we are better placed than anyone else to discern God’s will for us. Benedictine obedience insists that we recognise and trust the discernment and insights of others. It calls us to the humility of acknowledging that sometimes someone else will know better than we do the path we should take.

Where are you being invited to listen to God calling you through other people today?

Beatitudes Gospel Scripture Uncategorized

Desire and fulfilment

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Jesus says to his followers:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness they shall have their fill.”

It seems to me that the heart of this beatitude is desire and passion. At its heart is the passion of love that fuels our desire for communion with God. That love does not exist in a vacuum, our loving relationship with God soon spills over into a concern for the well-being of others. Our knowledge of God leads us to care passionately for all God’s creatures. It leads us to want to build communities based on fairness, justice, respect and equality for all God’s children.

This can quickly come to seem like an impossible task, and it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. This beatitude shows us a way to around that. If our care for others comes from our relationship of love with God, we have a sustaining source to nurture us when we feel overwhelmed by the suffering we see around us.

Prayer keeps us humble, able to acknowledge and accept the limitations of our actions. It can remind us that we can’t (and are not called) to solve all the worlds problems. It can compel us to do what we can to alleviate the suffering in front of us, however large or small that is, and to put the rest into the hands of the God whose love sustains us all.

How is your desire for justice fuelled by your prayer?

Benedictine Spirituality Scripture Uncategorized

Sacred Reading

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#BeingBenedictine, #Benedictine #BenedictineSpirituality, #Delight, #GodInAllThings, #gospel, #GospelValues, #RuleOfStBenedict #Lectio #LectioDivina #SacredReading #Scripture
My seventh #Benedictine word is Lectio Divina. The practice of Lectio Divina is the basis of personal prayer in Benedictine spirituality. St Benedict says very little about it. I’ve always assumed that’s because his monks would have been familiar with the term and known what he meant. It’s not quite so straightforward for us many centuries later and with a very different understanding of and relationship with text and the written word.

It’s reading, but it’s very different from any other sort of reading we might do. It’s not speed reading, skim reading, reading to gain knowledge or any of the other useful ways we engage with text. It’s not about understanding everything a text has to say, or getting to the end of it. It’s more about finding the treasure buried deep below the surface of a text.

Speaking about Scripture St John Chrysostom writes:

“To get the full flavour of a herb it must be pressed between the fingers so it is the same with Scripture; the more familiar they become the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield the indescribable riches.”

It’s a slow, reflective, repetitive reading of a text that allows it to reveal its hidden treasures and insights. As we revisit the text again and again its riches can sink to the depths of our hearts transform our lives from the inside. We need to be prepared to sit with the text however uncomfortable or challenging it is. We need to wrestle with it as Jacob did with the angel to receive the blessing it carries for our lives and for our times.

What helps you discover the treasures of Scripture in your life?