A Monk in the World :: STABILITY

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


Stability is a vow taken by a Benedictine monk binding her to residence for life in the same monastery in which she made her vow. 


Many of us outside the monastery walls change jobs, houses, cars and partners as quickly as we change our clothes. The idea of staying in the same place of residence our entire life is unimaginable! 

Stability is also a critical aspect of addiction recovery. When I was practicing addiction and emotional pain would show up, the first thing I wanted to do was escape.

If I couldn’t numb out with a substance then I wanted to run away. Some how I thought the pain inside wouldn’t follow me, but of course, it always did. 

Even after years of recovery there are days I struggle with the need to escape. But God gently pulls me back to a place of stability.

  • Stability centers us in something Greater than ourselves so nothing less than ourselves can sweep us away.
  • Stability requires listening and acceptance. We must quiet ourselves and listen to what the situation is it trying to teach us.
  • Stability takes the monotonous and creatively betters it. Once we accept the situation freedom comes and we find the creativity to improve it.

The world clamors for us to change everything about ourselves.


 Stability asks us to stay and grow so that change may come.


RESOURCES:
Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict by Esther de Waal
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict by Joan Chittister, OSB

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

12 Steps of Humility :: PERSEVERANCE

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 hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

Step 4 of Humility: In this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, [her] heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.

If you remain faithful to the end you will be saved. ~ Matthew 10:22 


In our world today we want any trial we are facing to be corrected yesterday. We don’t have time, nor are we willing to persevere through the crisis.  This leaves us living as spiritual infants.

According to Saint Benedict in our obedience, we are to hold fast when things aren’t going our way. And the only way to do that is to stay centered on God!

We must take our eyes off the circumstances and how we want things to be and remember everything in life can be a learning opportunity if we allow it.

I love this Webster 1828 definition:

perseverance: continuance in a state of grace to a state of glory.


When we are walking in God’s grace we are more likely to give Him glory. But we can’t be walking in His grace with our eyes on the ground, or on the circumstances or the rearview mirror, or on ourself.

God will only get the glory if we keep Him in the center minute by minute.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: designerkrim / 123RF Stock Photo

A Monk in the World :: CONVERSION of LIFE

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

Last month we learned the first of three primary Benedictine vows: Obedience. Second in our study is Conversatio Morum often translated: Conversion of Life. 


By this vow the monk recognizes that he is not yet fully the person God created him to be, that he is on the way to knowing himself as one loved and created in the divine image whose call is to be as Christ in the world but who has not yet arrived.                                                                              ~ Elizabeth Canham**

Most of my life I have been resistant to change; change in lifestyles, living situations, jobs, etc… Not until my late 40’s was I able to embrace change with joy, seeing the change as a God given adventure with a purpose for my benefit. 

Saint Benedict, writing to his monks in 6th century Italy, encourages them to embrace change and growth, to be transformed by the Spirit inwardly and outwardly.

As Christians we are called to continued spiritual growth. The vow of Conversion builds on this calling us to root out our vices and faults; to cultivate virtue and contemplation; to repent from worldly sin, and apply a lifelong process of discipline and spiritual formation.

With conversion we concentrate on the kind of person we want to become remembering there are no instant conversions. This is a lifelong marathon not a daily sprint. Not focusing so much on what must be removed but by adding in new healthier habits the negative ones will naturally fall away.

In this season of Lent what better time to embrace the Conversion of Life?

RESOURCES:
St. Benedicts Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine **
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten
Spirituality for Everyday Living: An Adaptation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Brian C. Taylor
The Path of Life by Cyprian Smith, OSB
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Benedictine Monachism: Studies in Benedictine Life and Rule by Edward Cuthbert Butler


The 12 Steps of Humility :: ACCEPT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

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 hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

The first two rungs on Saint Benedict’s ladder of humility help us find our place in the universe. The next brings us to spiritual adulthood by opening ourselves obediently to the wisdom of others.

Step 3 of Humility: Imitating the Lord Jesus a person should submit to their superior in all obedience.

To begin our spiritual growth process we must first find a mentor / teacher and then be willing to accept direction from them. God graciously puts someone in my life to guide me. It is up to me to recognize their authority and to be teachable! 

Thinking we know it all usually land us face first in the dirt!  If we would have started in that position to begin with, humbly accepting direction, we could have saved ourselves embarrassment.

Growing up depends on learning from others. And learning from others depends on humility, being willing to submit this false sense of unlimited power to the experience and vision and penetrating heart of another. ~ Joan Chittister **

By practicing the First Step of Humility: Recognizing God’s Presence  and the Second Step of Humility: Accepting God’s will  it becomes easier to submit to the authority of a mentor or teacher that has been placed on our life path.


Ultimately it’s up to us to listen, accept direction, and value the insights of others. We must see our teachers, whoever they might be, young or old, as the voice of God speaking to us!


RESOURCES: 
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: rolffimages / 123RF Stock Photo

A Monk in the World ::OBEDIENCE

IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE TEACHINGS AND PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS. TODAY WE’RE FOCUSING ON the vow of Obedience.



Closely linked to Step 2 of Humility is the discipline of obedience.  In the Benedictine monastic community the members profess three vows: obedience, stability and a life of on-going conversion. Implicit in these are the evangelical vows of chastity and poverty.


Obedience… is not one of our favorite words. Most of us like to think we don’t have to follow all the rules. Some would even say rules are made to be broken. But the truth is most rules are made to protect us from something. 

The root word of obedience is a Latin word for listen. When we want someone to obey us we are really asking them to listen to us. Thinking in this way obedience doesn’t seem so harsh. Isn’t this all God is asking of us? That we listen to Him? After all, He has our best interest in mind when He asks us to do something. 

In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul says obedience comes from faith, (1:5) faith comes from hearing God’s Word (10:17) and that we are mutually encouraged by each other’s faith (1:12). Which leads us to our next point.

In the spirit of Benedictine obedience, I should practice “mutual obedience”  obeying not only those in authority over me but also my fellow brothers and sisters. This fosters harmony in our communities and households. When we see others as the voice of God we will be better listeners.

Obedience is not what we expect from others, it is what we do ourselves for others… Obedience says: Set aside what you are doing. Focus your attention on the person before you to discern what God is asking you to do.  (St. Benedict’s Toolbox)**

Our response to obedience must be joyful and spontaneous. More than the action itself, what matters is the attitude of our heart. When we respond without grumbling, replacing competitiveness with consideration we can live a life of obedience as Saint Benedict teaches in his Rule.

If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful worship song by Chris Tomlin.

RESOURCES:
**St. Benedicts Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten

The 12 Steps of Humility

ACCEPTING GOD'S WILL

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 hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

 










Step 2 of Humility: A person shall love not their own will or take pleasure in the satisfaction of their desires; rather they shall imitate by their actions the saying of the Lord: “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

Certainly one of the toughest lessons we learn in life is that we don’t always get things our way. As children we are selfish with our toys, with our activities, our time, with our need for attention and even our friendships.

It doesn’t seem to get any better as adults. We want to control every part of our world.

If we can learn to let go and allow God to have control, life becomes so much easier.

But letting go is the hardest part.

I have found the more I practice letting go, accepting the current circumstances, the easier it is the next time.  Now don’t get me wrong. I still struggle with this. But it is getting easier. I just have to remember that what is out of my control is in God’s control. And what better place for control to be?

RESOURCES:
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry
The Way of Humility by Andre’ Louf

The 12 Steps of Humility

RECOGNIZE GOD'S PRESENCE

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 FIRST STEP OF HUMILITY:
A monk always keeps the fear of God before their eyes and flees from all forgetfulness. ~ The Rule of Benedict

To begin our heavenly climb we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives.

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. ~ Proverbs 1:7

When we recognize God’s Presence, have a healthy, reverential fear of the Lord and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe. 

One of the biggest challenges is keeping our self-worth in proper perspective. Without putting ourselves down in our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up in our strengths, we see ourselves as God sees us, gifts and flaws alike. We must face our reality.

To get me back to reality took getting life ripped out from under my feet. Only then was I able to look up and start rebuilding my life based on who God says I am rather than who I thought I was in my own fantastic imaginations. 

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

When we recognize God’s presence and put ourselves behind His lead we are less likely to fall. 

CLICK HERE for a beautiful worship song to enjoy as you meditate on the Presence of God.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo