+BEING TRULY ALIVE by Living the Rule of Benedict as a Lay Cistercian
Irrepressible Light by a Patricia Sharbaugh (selection from book that Fr. Michael quotes)
First of all let me welcome you all on behalf of the Gethsemani community. I think it especially significant that we have a retreat this weekend with all that is happening in this Nation with the election and in our world with the pandemic and climate change. This is a new way of connecting with one another and I trust it will be a graced day for each and all of us. It is a unique way of being together but space and time put no limits on the working of the Holy Spirit who is with us all as we gather for this Virtual Retreat.
It was suggested that I say a few words about St Benedict in a Secular world. As I began to think of sharing with you a story I recently came across in my spiritual reading, a true story and one I feel to be close to your own experience so I thought to share it as a way of getting into the spirit of our time together. It is from a book called Irrepressible Light by a Patricia Sharbaugh, it is subtitled The Women of the New Testament.In her chapter on Luke 2:36-38, the story of the prophet Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, Patricia tells the story about asceticism in her life and ours. As you are well aware the pandemic has imposed a certain kind of asceticism on all of us, very real limits on where we can go or gatherings we normally enjoy. Patricial highlights the fact of how these restrictions can be a wonderful way of growing in love that is at the very heart of our Christian and Lay Cistercian way of living it. So here is what she writes:
“Perhaps the best way to understand asceticism…his asceticism had made for love.”
These few paragraphs sum up what I think ‘becoming fully alive’ means for many of us. Wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing, if it is being done in the service of God and neighbor, will manifest a love that is in our heart and overflow onto all those around us. As happens in my own life of making fudge, praying the Divine Office each day, serving in our refectory that means putting out food for the community and washing dishes afterward, being faithful to my lectio divina etc when carried out in love is like a leaven in my community. I think this is true of each one of your lives as you seek to be faithful to divine grace that is at work in you. May you realize how gifted each of you is and give yourself over to it anew each day.