OBEDIENCE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

This Third Step of Humility is a direct application of our previous Second Step:  Step Three involves setting aside our personal desires to imitate Christ in doing God’s will. Father Benedict puts it this way:

Submit to your superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord of whom the Apostle Paul says: He became obedient even to death (Philippians 2:8).  ~ Rule of Benedict 7:34

An obedient, submissive heart increases our openness to receiving directions for our daily life. This applies to our relationships with a supervisor, teacher or parent. But before we can express our obedience by complying with a command, we must first listen. Most importantly we must listen to our Heavenly Father who will in turn help us obey our earthly authorities.

In humility we must promptly and cheerfully obey with no grumbling or reluctance. These humble attempts to live according to God’s will prepares our soul not only to walk with God today, but for eternity as well.

With this amazing new song by Lindy and The Circuit Riders let’s contemplate how we can honor God with our yes… by our obedience!

TURN FROM WILLFULNESS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The second step of humility is that we love not our own will nor take pleasure in the satisfaction of our own desires.  ~ (Rule of Benedict 7:31)

I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. ~ John 6:38

Jesus is our perfect example for life.

When He walked the earth, Jesus’ disciples saw him perform many miracles. But amazingly they didn’t ask him to teach them how to heal people or raise the dead. The disciples only asked Jesus how to pray. In this model prayer, Jesus taught them to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is our starting point.

We can’t accept God’s will until our heart’s ready for it.

It will be impossible for us to turn from our self-will and embrace God’s will if we are completely immersed in our own view of reality. This means examining our heart’s desires. What’s at the root? What is the motivation? Why? Maybe it’s from past abuse or poor parenting. As we read God’s Word and pray the Holy Spirit will transform our mind. Gradually our heart will softens in humility and become able to follow God’s will.

One with the Father.

Our life is to be modeled after Jesus. He did nothing and spoke nothing that wasn’t from his Father in Heaven. This is where our heart and mind need to be: one with our Father’s will. To think like Jesus thought. That will come as we continue to stay in God’s Word and in His Presence. Only then can we hope to turn from the stubborn willfulness that plagues our humanity and live God’s best life.

Contemplate trusting God’s will for your life as you listen to this sweet song from Hillsong Young and Free.

RECOGNIZE GOD’S PRESENCE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we are climbing Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The first Step of Humility: a  monk keeps the fear of God always before their eyes.  ~ The Rule of Benedict 7:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Proverbs 1:7

As we begin our journey we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives and live from that awareness moment by moment.

Have an honoring, reverential fear of the Lord. To walk in humility we must live from a stance of reverential fear of God always. Not fear in the sense that we are afraid. But fear in the sense that we have a deep abiding respect for God’s authority in our life.

Keep self-worth in a proper perspective. By not putting ourselves down for our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up because of our strengths we can better see ourselves as God does. When we can have a balanced view of our flaws and gifts we come closer to the reality of who we are.

A foundational step for all the rest to come. Starting with a firm foundation of reverential fear of God will help the future step to be a little easier. As we recognize God’s Presence and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe.

God is always present in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, God is always present. He is present to our every thought and every action. It’s not hard to imagine God with us when we are being good. But to think of Him being present when we are doing something bad is uncomfortable.

Guard yourself at every hour. If we stay aware of God’s Presence moment by moment following the Holy Spirit’s lead we are promised to be blessed.

Take a few moments to contemplate the Presence of God in your life as you watch/listen to this beautiful worship song by Jenn Johnson.

Image Copyright ©2019 Reaching Hurting Women Ministries. 

The 12 Steps of Humility :: LISTEN MORE THAN TALK

IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 
 

THE NINTH STEP OF HUMILITY: A monk restrains [her] speech, not speaking until an answer is required.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10-19 (MSG)

 






In a culture big on watching most of us don’t really know how to listen. Do you find yourself listening to friends or loved ones with virtually no eye contact or verbal responses while surfing email or social media on your smartphone? 

Turn listening into a living response rather than a cerebral activity. That means we may have to listen when we don’t want to. If we pick and choose we may miss an important message God is trying to bring us. Besides that, it all comes back to honoring Christ in the other. It’s basic Golden Rule behavior really.

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.*


Benedictine spirituality calls us to listen to four things:

  • The Gospels.
  • The Rule.
  • Each other.
  • Life around us.


We won’t hear God through any of these unless we stop talking, typing or texting!

If we want to grow in grace, we must learn to talk less and listen more.** 

 
RESOURCES:
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm**

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal*
 

Image credit: tuk69tuk / 123RF Stock Photo

09.03.14

Consequences

 

Death’s station is at the entrance of pleasure. ~ The Rule of Benedict

It may sound radical to say that pleasures lead to death. But think about it. What are your favorite guilty pleasures? Food? Sex? Alcohol? Sleeping? Shopping?

Is it possible, that if you continued in your pleasurable habit unrestrained, that a death could be a result? Remember, the death we are talking about here isn’t always a physical death. But it could be.

In the quote above, Saint Benedict reminds us that all pleasure has consequences. Some are emotional, some are physical, some are spiritual and most are a combination of all three. We would do well to look ahead and consider the potential consequences of this particular pleasure we are about to indulge ourselves in. Sin is fun for a season but when the season ends there will be a bill to pay. What will you be paying with? Health problems, high debt, relationship issues… Is the cost worth it?

There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

 

Image credit: dizanna / 123RF Stock Photo

A Monk in the World

EACH MONTH IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.

 

There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence. ~ The Rule of Benedict

I kept quiet, not saying a word, not even about anything good! ~ Psalm 39:2 (GNT) 

Words, words, words… They are everywhere! Billboards, sides of buildings, flashing street signs, bumper stickers in traffic, even the sky isn’t immune with its skywriters and planes tugging advertisement banners. The plethora of words in our world dilute their meaning to the point of overload and burnout!

Where in the world can one go to find silence?

Even if we find a place with the precious quiet we’re craving we still have the noise in our mind to deal with. We must somehow change the internal noise into a gentler sound.

The one who sits in solitude and quiet has escaped from three wars: hearing, speaking, and seeing; yet against one thing shall he continually battle: that is his own heart. ~ Anthony of Egypt*

As our body needs rest, our spirit needs silence for our inner life to grow. When we keep out the weeds (noise) the garden of our soul can flourish. Too many words can hinder our relationship with God, preventing us from hearing the most important Word of all!  

Spiritual growth requires insights that only solitude and silence can provide. No one can do this work for us. We must be intentional to build times of silence into our day. It won’t happen otherwise.  

In Buddhist countries children routinely spend time with monks and are taught to sit in the lotus position and learn to meditate. Quaker communities also have silence as a regular part of their daily routine. 

Who is teaching us or our children how to sit in silence? Instead of hiding away in our prayer closet we must include our children and grand children in our practice of silence. They will learn best by watching our example.

If you are unaccustomed to silence (I was and most people are) begin with a simple plan. You may choose an activity that can be done in quiet: gardening, painting, walking or cooking. You may just want to sit. Either way start out small. If you want five minutes of silence, give yourself ten minutes. You will need the buffer time to get settled in. Gradually you will add more time. Before you know it you will prefer the silence!

Silence is an indispensable discipline in the spiritual life. It is our portable monastic cell that we take with us into the world to minister to others. 

RESOURCES:
The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison*
The Path of Life by Cyprian Smith OSB
The Rule of Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry, OSB
The Oblate Life Edited by Gervase Holdaway OSB
Originally published September 10, 2014

BOOK REVIEW

 

St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living
by
Jane Tomaine

 

Readers who have been following my blog will be familiar with the title of this book. It has been listed as a resource for many of my columns.


As the title suggests St. Benedict’s Toolbox is just that… an excellent tool for applying The Rule of Saint Benedict to lives outside the monastery wall.

Jane Tomaine does a incredible job laying out the chapters in a user friendly fashion with ideas and resources that will blend with your personal lifestyle and faith practice.

If you were to buy only one book to help you begin applying The Rule you must buy St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine!

I’m crazy about Jane’s book and plan to use it for years to come! Every time I open it I get more excited about putting it into practice. Thanks Jane!

 

Originally published Aug 27, 2014

BOOK REVIEW

by Anthony Marrett-Crosby (Editor)

2003 Canterbury Press Norwich

The Oblate Life

by Gervase Holdaway OSB (Editor)

2008 Canterbury Press Norwich

 

To finish out this year I have chosen to review the two best resources I’ve found for becoming a Benedictine Oblate. Both books are beautifully bound with durable hardcovers designed for years of use. They are similar in style and format with topical essays in easy to read chapters written by excellent contributing authors.

 
The Benedictine Handbook begins with a brief introduction to Saint Benedict and his Rule followed by the tools for Benedictine spirituality and how to practice them in our every day lives whether we live in a community or as a solitary. The Benedictine Handbook is an excellent resource to help you understand the basics of the Benedictine lifestyle and the foundation of this type of spiritual walk. 
 
The Oblate Life though very similar in style and format regarding Benedictine history and spirituality, it focuses mostly on what it means to live as a Benedictine oblate. Whether married with a family or single, in our community or the church, the essays cover all areas and seasons of life. The bibliography in The Oblate Life is an excellent list of resources to help us delve deeper into all things Benedictine.
 
If you feel called to the Benedictine spiritual walk both of these books are a must have for your library.  The Benedictine Handbook and The Oblate Life both serve as a great introductions to many of the best Benedictine authors in the market today. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying both books and will continue to for years to come.
 

A Monk in the World :: BALANCE

IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.  THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS BALANCE.

 

Balance

bal·ance noun

: the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall

: the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling

: a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance

If there is one thing we all have trouble with it’s balance; between our daily schedule, priorities, money, food, exercise, media, rest, work, play, etc…


Just as King Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun. And the challenge of balance isn’t new for sure! Saint Benedict of Nursia knew this well and it was a priority in his Rule for the monks under his charge.

Balance is a running theme in Saint Benedict’s Rule. It’s easy to romanticize the idea of being behind a monastery wall thinking that once away from all the worldly influences and distractions we could actually achieve balance in our lives.

Even in Benedict’s day the monks struggled in this area, so they were given strict guidelines to follow. Yet with almost every rule exceptions were made. Benedict not only accepted humanness but gave grace for it.

KEYS TO FINDING BALANCE: 

  • Create a daily routine: Write out what your perfect day or week would look like and plan toward it. Give yourself grace when life shows up with a kink in your plan.
  • Use timers: Use your smart phone for more than games or FaceBook. Timers or calendar reminders are critical to keep me on my schedule.
  • Be flexible: There are exceptions to all our plans. Just when I think I’ve got the perfect plan, God shows up with something better!

I quickly admit that I don’t have this balance thing figured out. Some days and weeks I do really well, then life shows up and there goes my perfectly planned schedule. The best thing I can do then is start again.  Recognition that there is need for balance is the beginning of actual change. I believe moderation brings about balance. So my life motto today is:

MODERATION IN ALL THINGS INCLUDING MODERATION!


RESOURCES:

Spirituality For Everyday Living: An Adaptation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Brian C. Taylor
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal

 



*Definition courtesy Mirriam-Webster.com
Image credit: paktaotik2 / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Steps of Humility

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

THE LADDER IS OUR LIFE ON EARTH, IF WE HUMBLE OUR HEART GOD WILL RAISE IT TO HEAVEN. ~ ST. BENEDICT 

 

 

 THE TWELFTH STEP OF HUMILITY
A monk always manifests humility to those around [her]. ~ The Rule of Benedict

I am bowed down and humbled in every way. ~ Psalm 38:6

 

Whatever our influences are they will show themselves in our attitudes and actions toward others. If we are careful to keep our hearts and minds on God’s way that will come through to those in our path.

Humility connects us to the world… calms us and it calms others. It inspires and it assures; it enriches and it enables. Humility gifts us with happiness and graces the world with peace. ~Joan Chittister*


Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility are a difficult list of expectations. Certainly they are demands that one cannot attain without consistent help from the Divine. 

Thankfully God knows our heart and gifts us with the strength and abilities we need to press into His presence and begin the transformation process. 

But it’s up to us to take the first step with intention. By recognizing God’s presence, accepting His will and the spiritual leadership He puts before us, we can persevereacknowledge our faults, live contently and honestly, restrain our mouth and laughter so we can listen and learn from others

Hopefully at some point we will be centered and serene enough that others will see in us the humility that we are trying to achieve.

 

RESOURCES:
The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chitister*
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
St. Benedicts’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry


Image credit: nicholashan / 123RF Stock Photo