Our Lady and Sheen

Benedictine monasticism and our life in Christ

Michael Casey, in his book Strangers to the City, a meditation on the Rule of St. Benedict in the world, gives us a chance to examine our personal motives in life through the view of a “male, a monk, and Australian, and probably in the final quadrant of [his] life.  [He] speak[s] as one formed in a specifically Cistercian approach to the Rule.”

His first chapter involves a section on the question, “Why are you here?” (Quid petis?)  While asking that question of a candidate, he brings up the point that, “Whatever brings a person to embrace the monastic way, it is unlikely to be sufficient for a lifetime.”  How true this is for us as well, no matter where we are on our faith walk.

Monastic life is different than the secular life for a great many reasons, “Nobody slips unthinkingly into the monastic life for the lack of a better alternative… The train is running on tracks to a single destination; if you don’t want to go there, you had better get off at the next stop.”  In our life, don’t we have a modicum of choice in where we end up, if it were left up to us.  Most of us, and I pray all of us, want to go to Heaven, the monastic life makes this “mission statement” much more firm, and thus if I remember from the movie Beckett, “How easy it is to be a saint in a monastery.”  (I’m sure Brother Michael would disagree, but you’ll have to buy his book to find out.)

My friend, recently said that he didn’t want to have to choose, when it came to a matter of deep theological importance.  How right he is!  If I get to make up my own mind in what I believe, that’s great.  I personally must choose to follow Christ, or not; to follow His Church, or not; to accept salvation, or not.  Beyond that, do I want to decide every piece of theological minutia that there is a debate on?  NO!  I want to concentrate on my soul.  I know that sounds selfish, but I were to gain the whole world and lose my soul, what profit would I gain?  In that case, should I wish to gain my soul for God?  Having internal debates on every item that the Church has debated publicly for 2,000 years is a waste of my time, and usually not a good academic exercise.

We learn this also from those who follow the Rule of Benedict:

“His most pressing task, therefore, is purity of heart.  This means he uses anything that reduces the level of inner division.  He embraces a disciplined lifestyle, he allows many of his options to be decided by others, he opens his heart to an experienced mentor, he submits to the providential disturbances that he meets on his journey.” (Location 217, Kindle)

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderfully trying experience?  Turning your life over, so that you can concentrate on your soul.  The chapter talks about a great many of the challenges of this area, but we should start to implement in our lives a simplicity of purpose that will gain us first and foremost the beatific vision.

Our Lady of Einsiedeln, pray for us!


April 11, 2012 - Posted by | Book Review | , , , , , , ,

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