Feast of St. Benedict 2021
“It is time now for us to rise from sleep.”
― St. Benedict, Rule of St. Benedict
Being awake and staying awake is not as easy as it sounds.
We all have callings in life. Or ‘vocations’ if you will. Married life, single life, religious life, monastic life, and the myriad ways that they are lived out in our society. If we stay awake and stay on track, our lives even if difficult, will be filled with meaning. In order to stay awake, we have to fight the often overwhelming influence of whatever society we live in. In order to truly be true to one’s vocation, there has to be a lot of effort to think, pray, and discern, how to keep on the road we feel we are called to follow.
In Monastic life, the focus is different than say a married couple with three children. Yet the call to holiness and authenticity in one’s faith flows from the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit.
Even then, we may fall asleep from time to time and meander off the path for a while, or for a long time. Yet more often than not we are called back. So growth is often slow no matter what one’s vocation is.
It is about the heart. What do we truly seek, love, long for, and are willing to move towards selling everything for the pearl of great price. I believe that this what our lives are about, the choice, the one that leads us to our goal, to the fulfillment of our deepest desires, which takes faith, trust, and discipline.
If we let our faith go, with it goes some part of our identity. What do we replace it with? There are many other ‘paths’ more than willing to take us on. However these other paths usually end up with our being left desolate, empty, and our desires frustrated. What we desire in our depths cannot be dealt with except with the infinite. A love that is beyond our comprehension, yet that is what we long for, I believe.
People have told me that ‘monks’ do not live in the ‘real world’. Not sure what that means. I guess one way to escape the ‘real-world’ is to take some sort of drug or get a really big car, house, or whatever we are told we need for fulfillment. I am not sure that is ‘real’, but a false illusion we are fed. That is how Capitalism that is based on greed works. I do believe that small businesses, mom and pop enterprises are different. They can be a stabilizing force in any community. So Capitalism is not a system of evil, it is only when greed becomes central that shortsightedness comes into play and we get the mess we are in today when it comes to what we are doing to the environment as well as what we do to ourselves. Buying into this is what really puts us to sleep, and we may never wake up!
You can try to escape the ‘real-world’ but it only makes life more complicated and painful. When we are true to our vocation, which means that we understand that reality flows from our own inner reality. The healthier it is, the more grounded we are. The more we allow ‘others’ to tell us what we need, desire, or how to fit in, the more scattered and alienated we become towards others as well as ourselves.
Being in a monastery does not protect from that influence. We do bring our past with us, as well as family dynamics.-Br.MD