Today’s Bible reading
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. — Matthew 6:33
More thoughts for meditation.
Stability as the rule describes it, is fundamental. It is something much more profound than not running away from the place in which we find ourselves. It means not running away from oneself. This does not involve some soul-searching, self-indulgent introspection. It means acceptance: acceptance of the totality of each man and woman as a whole person involving body, mind and spirit, each part worth of respect, each part calling for due attention. Benedictine’s emphasis on stability is not some piece of abstract idealism: it is typically realistic. It recognize the connection of the outer and the inner: stability of relations with those around us (a community, a family, a marriage, a business) depends upon the stability and the right ordering of the disparate elements within ourselves, acceptance and not rejection or denial. The habit, which comes all too easily to many lay people, of dividing life into religious and the worldly, the spiritual and the bodily, and of feeling that the former even if it claims only a small proportion of time is yet somehow superior and to be kept apart, would have probably appeared scandalous to the man who in speaking of the way to God uses simple physical terms. Here is no ascent of souls, with that visual image of bodiless spiritual beings, which even if their authors never intended it to be so have yet so often brought great unease and discomfort to many readers of that particular genre of spiritual treatise. For right at the start, in that invigorating invitation of the Prologue, St Benedict speaks of us running, of our hearts and bodies being got ready, as though the legs, the feelings do actually matter. A disembodied spiritual being does not concern him. Yet we seem to have forgotten his message, and the neglect of the body has been a serious loss in the religious life of the west. Only in our own day are we beginning again to discover that in our physical bodies we have a temple in which God can be reached, that the body commands respect and carries power, and that to deny this is to cut ourselves off from one of our most powerful sources of energy and strength on our way to God.
Suggestion for action
Consider the three ways the Benedictines spend their time and energy: body, mind and spirit. In which of these three areas do you give the most time and energy? Which one do you give the least?
Among the Celtic peoples of the fishing and farming communities of the Outer Hebrides a man or woman would pray O bless myself entire, since to ask for a blessing on the soul without also asking a blessing on the body would never occur to them. The two are inseparably linked.
Pray: O bless myself entire