For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NRSV).
In The Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 58: The Procedure for Receiving Brothers, he wrote in verse 7 and 8, “The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials. The novice should be clearly told all the hardships and difficulties that will lead him to God.” (RB 1980, p.78,79).
Seeking God is the foundational piece of Benedictine Spirituality. Prayer and work (also called in Latin Ora et Labora), is a means to seeking God. In his book, The Benedictine Way Wulstan Mork, OSB connects the missing piece of what we are seeking God for. Benedictines seek union with God through a life of continuous prayer.
The words taken from Jeremiah that were prayed during Matins today, tell of seeking God in a situation that is favored by no one. The people have been exiled into Babylon. Throughout chapter 29, Jeremiah is telling the people to make the best of the situation. These words remind us to look for God with all our hearts in those moments and places where it is more difficult to search for union with God. It is easy to seek union with God in moments of contemplative and/or centering prayer. It is a lot more challenging to search for union with God while struggling with a difficult co-worker or a loved one with an addiction issue. We can search for God quite easily at Mass or Sunday Worship, but searching for God with the person who just cut us off in traffic is much too difficult. Yet, God is just as present in both places. We just have to be willing to slow ourselves down a bit to search for union with God at all times, in all places and with all people.
May each of us take the time in whatever situation we are in, to search for union with the God who has already found us. May we be open to listening to God in our hearts so that our searching and finding are more than lip service.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB