Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 7:35-43

To be read: February 1, June 1, October 1-2

The fourth step in humility is that in this same obedience, though things may be hard and contrary and even injuries have been inflicted, [the monk] accepts them with patience 36and with a quiet conscience endures it without growing weary nor giving in, for as the Scripture says: “Anyone who perseveres to the end shall be saved”(Mt 10:22). 37And again: “Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord”(Ps 26[27]:14). 38And showing that a faithful man ought even to bear every disagreeable thing for the Lord, it says in the person of the suffering: “For Your sake we suffer death all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter”(Rom 8:36; Ps 43[44]:22). 39And secure in the hope of the divine reward, they go on joyfully, saying: “But in all these things we overcome because of Him Who loved us” (Rom 8:37). 40And likewise in another place the Scripture says: “You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us by fire as silver is tried; You have brought us into a net, You have laid afflictions on our back”(Ps 65[66]:10-11). 41And to show us that we ought to be under a Superior, it continues, saying: “You have set men over our heads”(Ps 65[66]:12). 42And fulfilling the command of the Lord by patience also in adversities and injuries, “when struck on the one cheek, they turn also the other; when deprived of their coat they give their cloak also; and when forced to go one mile they go two”(cf Mt 5:39-41); 43with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brothers and “bless those who curse them” (2 Cor 11:26; 1 Cor 4:12)

In step four, Benedict directs that we embrace suffering, persevere, and be patient in hardship and unjust treatment.  He spices his directives with multiple Scripture references.  Ultimately, what is commanded of us is an alteration of our attitude.  We are called to not complain, rather to speak blessing when things do not go as we had hoped or planned.

The words we use speak into existence things that can either bless or curse.  If we complain, it focuses our minds on ourselves.  If we endure patiently with the wrongs done against us, then we can offer blessing to those who persecute us, ultimately robbing them of the power to hold us captive to the harm they intended against us.  Complaints emphasize the negative and accentuate what the evil one is striving to accomplish.  Patient endurance brings hope.  St. Paul encourages the persecuted Church in Rome with these words: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (5:3-5).

Again, as we saw in the last two steps, it is helpful for us to imitate those who have persevered before us, and to recognize the hope made manifest in their lives.  It is hard sometimes in the midst of our earthly struggles to see the light or experience the love, but by focusing on the light, we can make our way through the darkness and recognize that those who seek to hold us captive are themselves prisoners to the darkness.  So let us speak blessing upon them, and as Benedict directs, “with the Apostle Paul…bear with false brothers and ‘bless those who curse [us]’” (2 Cor 11:26; 1 Cor 4:12). 

Note:  This meditation is designated for both October 1 and 2.  There will be no posting tomorrow.

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