Reflection on Humility

When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (See John 6:1-21. NRSV).

David G.R. Keller in his book, Oasis of Wisdom: The Worlds of the Desert Fathers and Mothers wrote,

“The path towards God begins with the recognition of our own limitations and an awareness of our total dependence on God. In order to take the first step, we must know who we are in relation to God” (p.134).

The quote I am using from St. John’s Gospel comes from the narrative where Jesus feeds the multitudes. When the people want to take Him by force “He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.” Jesus “who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God, something to be used for his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant..” (Philippians 2:6,7 NIV). Jesus is more concerned about withdrawing to recollect Himself in silence and solitude. Jesus reclaims who He is.

Humility is the most challenging way for Christians to live. Our society around us encourages achievements to become better and bigger. The more money we make, the more successful we are. Being in the spotlight creates models for our children to aspire to. Greatness feeds our false-sense of self. The attitude is unless we are on the top of the world, we are nothing. Jesus, shows us that nothing could be further from the truth.

Contemplative prayer helps us to live into our true selves. We “recognize our limitations.” We rediscover that we are poor in spirit, and that we will find God by letting go of who we think we are. The God-Life becomes a life of fruitfulness when we listen to Jesus when He said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In humility we seek union with God for the sake of God alone, God gives us everything we need. Our poverty of spirit in contemplation is the key that unlocks the power of the Holy Spirit; who guides us to purity of heart.

“Let me seek you, O God, in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking. Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when find you” (From the Prayer of St. Anselm of Canterbury, Saint Benedict’s Prayer Book for Beginners, p.118).

“The first step of humility, then, is that we keep ‘the reverence of God before our eyes’ (ps.36:2)’ and never forget it” (The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, p.79).

What does humility mean in your life?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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Reflection on God Our Portion

st.benedictstainedglass

“I cry out to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5: The Book of Common Prayer, p.798).

I am drawn to the words, “You,,,,are my portion in the land of the living.”

The world around me tells me that I will never be satisfied unless I own the biggest, the fastest, the most pleasurable.   Some around me have a larger portion then I do. I probably have a larger portion than others in some things.  Consumerism says that unless I have the biggest portion of everything, I am missing something in life.  The weight loss consumer market shames me and others by telling us that unless we buy their products to make us look more like the status quo our lives are worthless.

In Chapter 34 of The Rule of Saint Benedict entitled Distribution of Goods According to Need, he quotes from Acts 4;35.  “Distribution was made to each as he had need.”  In the rest of the chapter,  Benedict offers advice for those who need more and those who need less.  He is telling us that God knows our needs better than we do. Benedict’s Rule is a balance between strictness and flexibility.   He recognizes our need to honor God in one another, but leaves the decision of what to work on up to us individually.

The Psalmist and St. Benedict are reminding us that God is our portion who provides for each of us from the fullness of God’s Self in grace and love.  Our false sense of self says we never have enough, or makes us guilty if we have too much because of circumstances beyond our control.  As we submit ourselves to God through contemplative prayer we are drawn into the mystical experience that God’s Truth is all we need.  In God is our true selves.  In God is our sense of love and acceptance of where we are.  In God is our grace to let go of ourselves and find strength and endurance to keep following the path to where God wants us to be.  After all, God is our portion in the land of the living.

How is God your portion in the land of the living?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See: http://www.cos-osb.org

Advent Reflection: Keeping Watch, Becoming

Becoming

With Christ’s spirit working within us we can be the means by which his saving work is extended throughout the world. We become his hands, his feet, his voice, and like Mary his mother, bring Christ into the world for others. -Br. Eldridge Pendleton, SSJE.  (Taken from Brother Give Us a Word.  A Ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist).

One of the greatest teachings from The Rule of St. Benedict is, “always we begin again.”  Today, we will have those choices before us that I wrote about two blogs ago.  We can chose to allow ourselves to become Christ for others in the world.  We can also chose to just live the day for ourselves.

Allow me to be more fair by writing that all of us need some time to ourselves.  In Chapter one of The Rule of St. Benedict, he describes four kinds of monks.  The first two types of monks are the cenobites and the anchorites or hermits are among the monks he had a lot of admiration for.  The cenobites live in a monastic community under a rule and in obedience to an abbot.  The anchorites or hermits live a more solitary life. Benedict would’ve had to think well of both, because he spent three years in solitude at the cave in Subiaco before he eventually went to Monte Cassino where he wrote The Rule.  The point of historical certainty is, that whether Benedict was at Subiaco or Monte Cassino; he drew individuals who were yearning for something he was finding.

It is important that we allow ourselves to become who God has created and redeemed us to be.  We can learn more about who we are and who we are to become, by spending moments in solitude with God along side periods of work, study, social interaction and recreation.  A balanced spiritual life makes time for all these various things.  The things are the simple part.  The balance is what we all need God’s grace to work at.

In our Advent watching, may we become a greater image of God for ourselves and others as we strive for a better balance in our daily life.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB