Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daniel Day 21 - Vows

  • ...the ego's temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.
The past week or so, I have had the distinct feeling that my life is not my own. My war against The Church suddenly ended, leaving me wondering what it was all about. I wondered if my anger was a strange sickness suddenly healed, or a demon suddenly cast out. Further, I spent my day Saturday at a nearby monastery (actually, I live just down the street). I have never really liked that place, but yesterday, I was listening happily to talks by the sisters and appreciating the new people I met.

I spent nearly four years of my life in formation with a Benedictine community (different than this one near my house). However, the day before I was to make my vow, I found my life suddenly upended as I was asked to leave. It was strange, but I am sure it was an intervention of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit's purposes. But suddenly, all that Benedictine teaching was meaningless as I put my life back together out here in the world. I knew I was a monk; having no interest in family life and wanting to spend all my time on contemplative prayer. But, I had no connection to being a Benedictine in my solitary life.

One thing, however, that always fascinated me was Benedict's 12 steps of humility. There is also Guigo's ladder for monks, with 12 rungs. I always saw ways to connect these to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Just as Benedict saw the entire universe in a single ray of light and a Buddhist might see it in an apple; I see it in 12 steps. 12 steps to where? Conscious contact with a Power Greater Than Myself.

In the monastery, as you approach making your vows, they give you a special piece of paper and you hand write out the vows. I wrote out my intention to remain faithful to the Benedictine vows of obedience, stability and conversatio. As I wrote these out, I felt God standing over my shoulder and I knew He was taking them seriously from that moment. Early in the morning before I was told to leave the monastery, I had an intuition that such a thing could happen. I told God that I would be faithful to the vows whether I carried them out in the monastery or out of it.

I have kept them in a strange way. Obedience is to the Spirit's leading, to shamelessly follow Jesus, even when it seemed away from what I had been taught by authorities. Stability to contemplation, ongoing consistency in silent meditation and the humble worship that implies. Conversatio (conversion of morals) is the ongoing practice of taking my ego thought inventory and offering it to the healing light of Jesus.

On Saturday, as I listened to talks by the sisters, it began to dawn on me that maybe they could help me figure out why God made me a Benedictine. I'm not ever going to be a nun; but for some reason, I went completely through a Benedictine formation program. The Spirit does not waste things. So why this?

I don't know; maybe though I have a way to learn.

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