Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.
A peak in the Swiss Alps, seen from the Bernina Express.
Humility (cont.) extracted from: Joan Chittister. The monastery of the heart: an invitation to a meaningful life. Blue Bridge, 2011, ch. 21, pp. 169-186
… continued from yesterday
The eighth step of humility
is that "we do only what is endorsed
by the common rule
of the monastery."
To learn from a community
does not mean that every generation does precisely
what every generation before it has done,
that nothing can change
as time goes by,
that holiness lies in the past.
But it does mean that the constants
of monastic life
are not monastic practices
but monastic values.
How commitment to prayer
was practiced in the sixth century
is merely history.
That commitment to prayer
is regular, psalmic, and scriptural—
and continues even now—
is truly Benedictine.
Pleace and care for creation,
concern for human community and work,
discernment, prayer, and prayerful reading,
equality, hospitality, and conversion of hearts—
these are eternal Benedictine values.
These are the ideals
upon which the Benedictine tradition rests.
Not to learn these,
not to live these,
is not to be a monastic of the heart.
The eighth step of humility requires us
to take responsibility
to renew the tradition
in fresh new ways and every age.
The ninth step of humility
is that we "control our tongues
and remain silent,
not speaking unless asked a question."
Learning to listen to the other
is every bit as much a part of humility
as learning to be silent ourselves.
There is such a thing
as a bitter silence,
a barren silence,
a busy silence
that simply cuts
the rest of the world
out of our lives.
But valuing the words of others,
listening to their concerns,
learning from their insights,
admitting their intelligence,
honoring their ideas,
is the very centre of human community.
These are the deepest elements
in the human dialogue.
Without them, no dialogue is possible,
only empty, blustering, aimless words.
This ninth step of humility calls us
to listen to everyone around us,
to make no exceptions,
and we will hear the voice of God
in the world.
The tenth step of humility
is that "we are not given to ready laughter,
for it is written,
'Only fools raise their voices in laughter.'"
Here the warning is
not against enjoying ourselves,
not against having fun.
It is against making fun and joy
impossible for everybody else
continued tomorrow …
Little Doxology / Kievan Chant Tone 6. Moscow Churches' Choir of Singers, dir. Anatoly Kuleshov
Photographs of Old Isborsk, in the Oblast of Pskov.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.