For here we have no lasting city but we seek the city which is to come.
Hebrews 13:14, RSV
The Benedictines, monks who practice the holy life in the "way of St. Benedict," have a vast series of rules handed down to them from the Saint himself. We think of rules and restrictions or boundaries come to mind. The Rule of Life as Benedictines practice it, is about a way of life that conducts us, organizes us, and guides us into closer relationship with God. The rules of life can be the ways and means that allow the Holy Spirit to move a person of faith to shape their life into an arc that bends towards God. There is a Benedictine rule that I came across this week, as a continued to use Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent (Albert Holtz, OSB) in my own spiritual journey through Lent, that reads: "Yearn for everlasting life with a holy desire. Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die." Yikes! This Rule from Chapter 4 of the Benedictine Rule of Life, claims two things we tend to discourage. One, the Rule reminds us to focus our life on the heavenly journey and two, it tells us we need to muse about our own death. Both foci of this particular rule seem rather maudlin, depressing, and potentially wrong-headed, right?
However, Benedict (and the monastic life, generally) have no personal possessions (hard for us to imagine; for me to imagine) as a way of keeping their life grounded in the journey that they are on: a journey that leads to God. Think about what you would take, if you suddenly had to leave everything in a hurry? What might you take with you? Your spouse! Your children! Maybe some food to sustain you, if you had time to gather it? Perhaps, some photographs ... There are times when we become bound to this earth a little too much; too focused on work, schedules, and a million "important" things and forget that God is the center of our life. We live in a transitory world and nothing is more vital than knowing the God our life. Our families are hugely central to our living but have we thought, lately, about how we center those relationships in God's overwhelming love for us? May there be parts of our lives that have become, unnecessarily, distractions from facing our lives more fully in God's direction? There is no judgment, we all are caught up in this modern world. Where are we headed? What journey are we truly on?
Fr. George +