Monasticism


Does Jesus live in you?

I found myself asking that question repeatedly during this past week.  How does Jesus presence show itself in my life?

That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?  That Jesus, somehow, takes life in our lives?

I use, in my personal prayer life, The Saint Helena Breviary.  A breviary is simply a book of offices, in this case Matins, Diurnum, Vespers and Compline (- in English that’s just Morning Prayer, Noon Day Prayer, Evening Prayer and End of Day Prayer).  The Order of St. Helena is named after the Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, who is supposed to have found a remnant of the cross Jesus died on during excavations she oversaw in Jerusalem.

She built a shrine with two principal buildings where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands.  It consisted of a large basilica used for the Liturgy of the Word, and a circular church known as “The Resurrection” with its altar placed on the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb.  In the courtyard connecting these two buildings, to one side, you can see the Hill of Calvary.  The shrine was dedicated on September 14, 335.  Since then, September 14, yesterday, has been know as Holy Cross Day.

As you might imagine, Holy Cross Day is a big deal (more…)

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I’m attracted to money and the things that money can bring into my life.  I think most of us are.  Most of my life I was paid for my work.  It may not have been my main motivation.  I had another career started, once upon a time, that promised to be more lucrative.  Money has not been my primary motivator in discerning a call.  But I don’t think I would have done the work that I did most of my life if I had not been paid a living wage.

There was a time when my furniture consisted of a fold up mattress, a lamp for reading and some crates to hold books, and my clothing was limited and pretty much all hand me down or thrift shop (except athletic shoes) and I was perfectly happy.  Today I want (possibly even need) a comfortable bed to sleep in and a comfortable chair to read in, and my stuff (which once fit into a VW bug) easily fills a home.  That is a problem in retirement:  how do I move my old office into my home?

I found myself thinking about this after reading (in Celtic Daily Prayer):  “It is no sin to have wealth, but it is sinful to be attracted to wealth. (more…)

I was reading this morning what Benedict says in his rule about the cellarer (the person in a benedictine community who distributes needed goods to members).  How mundane (and necessary)!  Benedict says that the cellarer is “to perform the duties of the office calmly” and that “necessary items are to be requested and given at the proper times, so that no one may be disquieted or distressed.”  I found myself thinking about Jesus, healing on the sabbath.  Is it right to do good or to do wrong on the sabbath?  The sabbath is a good thing.  But it can be used as an excuse to do harm, to refuse to help someone in need because we are following the rules.  How one gives the necessities of life (a good thing also) similarly can be done in ways that are healthy and helpful or in ways that cause harm to others.  Again, fussy rule keeping can be an excuse to harm others rather than to help them.  Joan Chittister suggests that the person with a Benedictine spirit “learns to err on the side of largesse of spirit.”

Maybe, finally, I’m beginning to understand the biblical idea of perfection! (more…)

This is so counter cultural that I simply couldn’t resist.  It comes from Joan Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict:  A Spirituality for the 21st Century:

Rabbi Mordecai said, “If a single coin is left over in my house at bedtime, I cannot fall asleep.  But if totally penniless, I sleep soundly, knowing that when the moment comes to awaken, I must immediately look to the Lord for aid.”  And the rabbi of Porissover taught, “If a person is poor and meek, it is easy for that one to be joyful, inasmuch as there is nothing to guard against losing.”

… We live in a culture that sees having things as the measure of our success.  We strive for a life that sees eliminating things as a measure of internal wealth.  Enough-ness is a value long dead in Western society.

Well, if I understand correctly, today would have been a second class feast for James Otis Sargent Huntington.  Except that today is Thanksgiving Day, which takes precedence, so the feast is transferred to tomorrow.  He is the founder of the Order of the Holy Cross, the first permanent monastic community in the Episcopal Church (and very concerned with putting the spiritual life into action in daily life — one of the reasons the Episcopal Church has been so involved in stuff happening in the world).  But what caught my eye is a reading from his “Bargainers and Beggars,” on gifts and giving (Grace), which connects in my mind (though it feels a bit archaic to me) with my last piece (“Free In Christ“).  Here is what he said:

It belongs to God to give; it is our part to receive.  That is a very simple and primary truth.  Let us not on that account despise it.  It is the truth which our Lord began in teaching his disciples, that is, in teaching the world, including ourselves. (more…)

So, I’m using their Breviary.  And today is the day they celebrate the founding of their order (said celebration started last night with first Vespers, but as I often do, I missed that).  I’ve been impressed by all I’ve seen so far.  So I thought I could at least share the collect for this celebration:

O gracious God, through whose Beloved One we are able to know ourselves also as beloved, we thank you for the nine women whose vision and trust in you brought this community into being:  Clothe us, who have been called together by you, with the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; let the message of Christ in all its richness inform our lives, that true forgiveness, gratitude and love may grow among us and show forth in our lives and service; through Jesus Christ who has taken our humanity into your divinity and lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever.  Amen.

If you are interested, you can link to their home page.

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