Saturday, May 07, 2005

RB Prologue 40

"We must, then, prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience."

One of the primary images of the monastery in the Rule of Saint Benedict is that of an army. Indeed, the very word 'service', so frequent in the rule, is the same word we use to refer to a stint in military duty.

We once were comfortable referring the Church at large in this world as the "Church Militant," though this term seems largely to have fallen out of favor. Perhaps this was because our true enemy was misidentified as the heretic, the schismatic or the atheist. The battle of holy obedience, however, to which St. Benedict refers is a battle that takes place within the heart of the believer. The battle-line is not drawn between warring camps of human beings, but through the human heart, divided between our love of good and our inclination toward evil. We have difficulty distinguishing between the good and evil impulses, and this is why we need formation, to be taught, by means of the Word of God, to penetrate our real motives and open them to the purification of grace.

Obedience is one of the monk's primary weapons in his arsenal. Obedience, especially difficult obedience, trains us to put some distance between our instinctive thoughts and our reactions. Conversely, self-will is the surest path to unhappiness and dominance by our habitual behaviors, even those we know are not healthy.

Obedience, the emptying of myself of all self-will [Phil 2:6-11], is the opening of myself to God's saving action and will for my life. May we arm ourselves with 'the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord' [RB Prol 3], to whom be all glory and honor and power forever. Amen.

I pray for all who read this and wish you grace in the Holy Spirit!
Prior Peter, OSB

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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