Guerric of Igny: “Through His Faith and Gentleness the Lord Sanctified Him” – St Benedict Compared with Moses Friday, Jul 13 2012 

GuerricThrough his faith and gentleness the Lord sanctified him.

These words were written of Moses, but they may today be applied not unfittingly, I think, to blessed Benedict.

For since he was filled with the Spirit of all the saints, it is reasonable to believe that he had not a little of Moses’ spirit.

If the Lord took some of the spirit of Moses and put it upon the whole group of elders who assisted him and were chosen to share his ministry, how much more must he have put that spirit on a man who more truly and more spiritually carried out every ministry in its fullness?

Moses led those who came forth from Egypt; Benedict was leader of those who forsook the world.

Moses was a legislator: so was Benedict.

Moses was minister only of the letter that kills; Benedict was minister of the spirit that gives life.

Moses wrote much that is difficult to understand and inapplicable today or impossible to put into practice;

Benedict is the author of a very sound rule of life that is clearly written and remarkable for its discretion.

Finally, the leader of the children of Israel did not bring into the promised rest those he had led out of Egypt.

Our leader, as the standard bearer of an army of monks, has gone before us by the straight way, the way stretching east, into the kingdom of heaven.

It is therefore not unreasonable to think that he equalled in merit one whom he actually surpassed in ministry.

Nor does it seem unfitting to apply to him what scripture says of Moses: Through his faith and gentleness the Lord sanctified him, especially since Benedict, who lived what he taught, teaches us those two virtues in particular.

Brethren, it is the command of our gentle and peace-making Master that we should be at peace with one another. Yet before that he says: Have salt in yourselves.

He knows well that peaceful gentleness nourishes vices unless the severity of zeal has first sprinkled them with the sharp taste of salt, just as mild weather causes meat to grow wormy unless the heat of salt has dried it out.

Therefore be at peace with one another, but let it be a peace that is seasoned with the salt of wisdom.

Try to acquire gen­tleness, but let it be a gentleness filled with the warmth of faith.

Guerric of Igny (c.1070/80-1157): Sermon 4 on the Feast of St  Benedict (PL 185,111-112), @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

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Benedict of Nursia: “The Thoughts of Man Shall Give Praise to Thee” Wednesday, Jul 11 2012 

The Holy Scripture crieth to us saying: “Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11; 18:14).

[…] If we wish to reach the greatest height of humility, and speedily to arrive at that heavenly exaltation to which ascent is made in the present life by humility, then, mounting by our actions, we must erect the ladder which appeared to Jacob in his dream, by means of which angels were shown to him ascending and descending (cf Gen 28:12).

Without a doubt, we understand this ascending and descending to be nothing else but that we descend by pride and ascend by humility.

The erected ladder, however, is our life in the present world, which, if the heart is humble, is by the Lord lifted up to heaven.

For we say that our body and our soul are the two sides of this ladder; and into these sides the divine calling hath inserted various degrees of humility or discipline which we must mount.

The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes (cf Ps 35[36]:2), shunning all forgetfulness.

[…]  And whilst he guardeth himself evermore against sin and vices of thought, word, deed, and self-will, let him also hasten to cut off the desires of the flesh.

Let a man consider that God always seeth him from Heaven, that the eye of God beholdeth his works everywhere, and that the angels report them to Him every hour.

The Prophet telleth us this when he showeth God thus ever present in our thoughts, saying: “The searcher of hearts and reins is God” (Ps 7:10). And again: “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of men” (Ps 93[94]:11).

And he saith: “Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off” (Ps 138[139]:3). And: “The thoughts of man shall give praise to Thee” (Ps 75[76]:11).

Therefore, in order that he may always be on his guard against evil thoughts, let the humble brother always say in his heart: “Then I shall be spotless before Him, if I shall keep myself from iniquity” (Ps 17[18]:24).

We are thus forbidden to do our own will, since the Scripture saith to us: “And turn away from thy evil will” (Sir 18:30). And thus, too, we ask God in prayer that His will may be done in us (cf Mt 6:10).

[…] As regards desires of the flesh, let us believe that God is thus ever present to us, since the Prophet saith to the Lord: “Before Thee is all my desire” (Ps 37[38]:10).

We must, therefore, guard thus against evil desires, because death hath his station near the entrance of pleasure.

St Benedict of Nursia (480-547): Rule of St Benedict, 7.

Benedict of Nursia: In His Loving Kindness He Showeth unto Us the Way of Life Monday, Jul 11 2011 

Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away.

To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.

In the first place, beg of Him by most earnest prayer, that He perfect whatever good thou dost begin, in order that He who hath been pleased to count us in the number of His children, need never be grieved at our evil deeds.

For we ought at all times so to serve Him with the good things which He hath given us, that He may not, like an angry father, disinherit his children, nor, like a dread lord, enraged at our evil deeds, hand us over to everlasting punishment as most wicked servants, who would not follow Him to glory.

Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture arouseth us, saying: “It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep” (Rom 13:11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, doth admonish us, saying:

“Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 94[95]:8).

And again: “He that hath ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches” (Rev 2:7).

And what doth He say?—”Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps 33[34]:12).

“Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not” (Jn 12:35).

And the Lord seeking His workman in the multitude of the people, to whom He proclaimeth these words, saith again: “Who is the man that desireth life and loveth to see good days” (Ps 33[34]:13)?

If hearing this thou answerest, “I am he,” God saith to thee: “If thou wilt have true and everlasting life, keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; turn away from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it” (Ps 33[34]:14-15).

And when you shall have done these things, my eyes shall be upon you, and my ears unto your prayers. And before you shall call upon me I will say: “Behold, I am here” (Is 58:9).

What, dearest brethren, can be sweeter to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us? See, in His loving kindness, the Lord showeth us the way of life.

St Benedict of Nursia (480-547): Rule of St Benedict, Prologue.

Benedict of Nursia: Praising God with Mind and Voice Wednesday, Oct 14 2009 

As the Prophet saith: “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Ps 118[119]:164), this sacred sevenfold number will be fulfilled by us in this wise if we perform the duties of our service at the time of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin.

Because it was of these day hours that he hath said: “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Ps 118[119]:164).

For the same Prophet saith of the night watches: “At midnight I arose to confess to Thee” (Ps 118[119]:62).

At these times, therefore, let us offer praise to our Creator “for the judgments of His justice;” namely, at Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin; and let us rise at night to praise Him (cf Ps 118[119]:164, 62).

[…] We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord behold the good and the bad in every place (cf Prov 15:3).

Let us firmly believe this, especially when we take part in the Work of God. Let us, therefore, always be mindful of what the Prophet saith, “Serve ye the Lord with fear” (Ps 2:11).

And again, “Sing ye wisely” (Ps 46[47]:8). And, “I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the angels” (Ps 137[138]:1).

Therefore, let us consider how it becometh us to behave in the sight of God and His angels, and let us so stand to sing, that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.

If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion?

And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard.

For this reason prayer ought to be short and pure, unless, perhaps it is lengthened by the inspiration of divine grace.

At the community exercises, however, let the prayer always be short, and the sign having been given by the Superior, let all rise together.

St. Benedict (480-547): Rule of St Benedict, 16, 19, 20.

Benedict of Nursia: When the Heart has Once Been Enlarged, the Way of God’s Commandments is Run with Unspeakable Sweetness of Love Wednesday, Oct 14 2009 

If we desire to dwell in the tabernacle of His kingdom, we cannot reach it in any way, unless we run thither by good works.

But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet, saying to Him: “Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest in Thy holy hill” (Ps 14[15]:1)?

After this question, brethren, let us listen to the Lord answering and showing us the way to this tabernacle, saying: “He that walketh without blemish and worketh justice; he that speaketh truth in his heart; who hath not used deceit in his tongue, nor hath done evil to his neighbor, nor hath taken up a reproach against his neighbor” (Ps 14[15]:2-3);

who hath brought to naught the foul demon tempting him, casting him out of his heart with his temptation, and hath taken his evil thoughts whilst they were yet weak and hath dashed them against Christ (cf Ps 14[15]:4; Ps 136[137]:9).

[…] Thus also the Apostle Paul hath not taken to himself any credit for his preaching, saying: “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Cor 15:10). And again he saith: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).

[…] Now, brethren, that we have asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in His tabernacle, we have heard the conditions for dwelling there; and if we fulfil the duties of tenants, we shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Our hearts and our bodies must, therefore, be ready to do battle under the biddings of holy obedience; and let us ask the Lord that He supply by the help of His grace what is impossible to us by nature.

[…] We are, therefore, about to found a school of the Lord’s service, in which we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.

But even if, to correct vices or to preserve charity, sound reason dictateth anything that turneth out somewhat stringent, do not at once fly in dismay from the way of salvation, the beginning of which cannot but be narrow.

But as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love; so that never departing from His guidance and persevering in the monastery in His doctrine till death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, and be found worthy to be coheirs with Him of His kingdom.

St Benedict of Nursia (480-547): Rule of St Benedict, Prologue.