A New Year has begun today. We have been granted a great grace to begin again. As we start over, we are prompted by The Rule to listen, incline the ear of the heart, receive willingly the Loving Father’s advice. Why does St. Benedict stress listening over and over? Because as he wrote, “by the labor of obedience you may return to him from whom you had departed..” St. Benedict knew that we all have the ability to shut out God’s voice in our hearts and as God speaks to us through life itself.
As Benedictines we read through The Rule three times a year by reading one section each day. We start from the first part of the Prologue every January 1, May 1 and September 1. The purpose is to hone our listening to God through “the framework of The Rule (1).” Though we are Monks, Nuns, Sisters or Oblates, we have just as much a capacity to allow God’s word to become dull and let the ears of our hearts recline from the Holy Spirit as anyone else. So, three times a year we get a regular wake up call.
Rather than see this as a reflection on ourselves, we should see it as the work of our loving God. God who knows the depths of our hearts more than we do, is more than willing to give us a fresh opportunity to respond to the Spirit’s movement. As long as we are willing to incline the ears of our hearts and keep being attentive; God will speak with us and invite us to contemplation and conversion. Because of God’s gracious goodness, we have another opportunity to start over. We can take hold of such an opportunity to grow closer to God and experience the wonder of the Incarnate Word as God speaks to us through Jesus.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB
(1). “The Rule as a framework” is mentioned in Thomas Merton, The Rule of St. Benedict: Initiation Into the Monastic Tradition 4, p.6. Edited by Patrick F. O’Connell, Cistercian Publications. Copyrighted 2009 by Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. All rights reserved.