Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Feast Day Pope Benedict!

I didn't forget that today was the Feast of St. Benedict. It is the Holy Father's feast day.

There is one passage from the Office of Readings for today that I would like to share. It is from the second reading, which is taken from the Rule of St. Benedict. While it addresses monks, you have to admit, most of this applies to anyone, anywhere.

"...Just as there exists an evil fervor, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervor which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervor into practice with an overflowing love: that is, they should surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either of body or of behavior, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another....."

While this is great to think about in the context of a family or household, don't stop there. How about the work place? How about the parish? There is always greater room for charity.

If you have ever been involved in a parish you will quickly learn that there are many people who want to volunteer in everything from singing to cleaning. This means there are groups and sub-groups; cultures and sub-cultures and, opinions, opinions, and more opinions on "the way things are suppose to work" (setting aside liturgy of which we should yield to those pastors who have the mind of the Church on the Mass). Let's stick with apostolates and activities.

Sometimes when we want to do something a certain way, we need to make the sacrifice and yield to someone else's way, even when it may not seem to be the best way to do something. In other words, practice bearing with the imperfect ways of others.

It's easy to imagine these examples because they involve young people: A mother lovingly accepts a piece of "art" from her small child, even though by many standards, it wouldn't get past the scrap bin. A father may let his son do something his way, so that the boy can learn why a particular way is not good.

If we love our neighbor, we are constantly willing to evaluate whether yielding to their way of doing something isn't the greater act of charity, than actually being right about something (and I'm not talking about where morality is concernced, but about getting things done).

Have you ever seen groups of people struggle over the details of how a festival should be planned? Or, about who should do what? It's called parish "politics" and it is one of the most poisonous things we can encounter. It is not from God, but from our human fallen nature, or from the Angel of Darkness who wants to divide and conquer us. What better way for any apostolate or parish to fall apart than like this?

We end it by recognizing when we are participating in it, and doing the hard things...talking to people we wouldn't ordinarily socialize with; participating in doing things the way others want us to do them (all too often I've seen people quit rather than do things another way).

Go read again what St. Benedict says. Ponder it and look at doing what is good for others, not for ourselves.

Charity rules.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!