What is it then to be stable? It seems to me that it may be described in the following terms: You will find stability at the moment when you discover that God is everywhere, that you do not need to seek Him elsewhere, that He is here, and if you do not find Him here it is useless to go and search for him elsewhere because it is not Him that is absent from us, it is we who are absent from Him…It is important to recognize that it is useless to seek God somewhere else. If you cannot find Him here, you will not find Him anywhere else. This is important because it is only at the moment that you recognize this that you can truly find the fullness of the Kingdom of God in all its richness within you; that God is present in every situation and every place, that you will be able to say: ‘So then I shall stay where I am.’
— Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
Last night at RCIA, the catechumens and candidates learned about the mystical body of Christ and the communion of saints. I’m not sure how many of them understood it. I’m not sure how many of us do, either, to be honest. The discussion on saints was a little easier and some of the teachers and volunteers were asked to share their particular patrons. I talked briefly about Saint Benedict and how his Rule, though originally written to organize a monastery, contains deep wisdom for anyone seeking to live in community with others. Outside the confines of a monastery, adapted for life in The World, the Rule teaches us to encounter Christ here, now, in this particular place and with these people: a family, a neighborhood, an office, a parish.
The Benedictine motto ora et labora comes quickly to mind, maybe especially so for bookish folks. Work/study and prayer - what else does anyone need? Maybe it’s all any of use can do to work and pray within the confines of an all-too-crazy daily schedule. The demands on our attention are constant and unrelenting, and we seem to do our damnedest to keep it that way. The idea of carefully proscribed life within a monastic enclosure…well, what’s not to love about that? But you can’t flee from humanity into a monastery - Thomas Merton wrote that you only find humanity there again, perhaps writ larger for the smallness of the space.
Bookwise: I’m nearly done with Essays on Ethics and just ordered a couple of books by Henri Nouwen, one of which I’ll try to save for an upcoming retreat.