Reflections on the Rule of St Benedict: Introduction
(please scroll down for daily reflections)


We wanted the Rule of St Benedict (RB) to pulse through the website as it does through our life, hence the decision that the daily portion of the Rule, read in most Benedictine monasteries and by many individuals, should feature on the Home Page. The version selected is that of Dom Justin McCann of Ampleforth published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937 and used by kind permission of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust. There are several reasons for this choice: first of all, we feel it still reads as an elegant translation, then we wish to celebrate cooperation between the Ampleforth and Stanbrook communities over many years, and thirdly, perhaps the old-fashioned ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ can actually help us approach the Rule of St Benedict thoughtfully. For all its relevance, RB remains an ancient text which needs careful ‘unpacking’.

To accompany the extracts of the Rule we hope to post regular reflections, from members of the Stanbrook Community and Stanbrook Oblates. These do not aim to be scholarly commentaries of which there are many excellent editions available. Rather, the reflections allow us to re-visit the Rule, to try to listen to its familiar voice anew, and to share thoughts via this forum.

Your comments are welcome via secretary@stanbrookabbey.org.uk



Website Reflections May-Sept 2022

Reflections for this cycle are by Mary Cockroft, an oblate of Stanbrook

Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13

 

This is clearly not a practice for the 21st Century! It does, however, remind us again of the concept of Oblation, of the freely given commitment, after proper discernment, to become an Oblate of a particular monastery, and to do so in the context of the Mass, in which Christ offers Himself for each of us at the Consecration.

 

We might pause today for a little prayerful thought about offering, commitment, sacrifice, love.

 

 

Chapter 60  The admission of priests to the monastery

 

August 14

 

This is a chapter which has little possible application to life outside the monastery, I often feel, yet the references to priests in the community being a living example of humility and stability could well be applied perhaps, to the kind of example we set to others in our daily lives, who may well know we are in theory practising Christians and will be expecting certain standards of attitude, speech and behaviour of us. Am I disappointing them? Even shocking them?

 

 Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13

 

This is clearly not a practice for the 21st Century! It does, however, remind us again of the concept of Oblation, of the freely given commitment, after proper discernment, to become an Oblate of a particular monastery, and to do so in the context of the Mass, in which Christ offers Himself for each of us at the Consecration.

 

We might pause today for a little prayerful thought about offering, commitment, sacrifice, love.

 

 

Chapter 60  The admission of priests to the monastery

 

August 14

 

This is a chapter which has little possible application to life outside the monastery, I often feel, yet the references to priests in the community being a living example of humility and stability could well be applied perhaps, to the kind of example we set to others in our daily lives, who may well know we are in theory practising Christians and will be expecting certain standards of attitude, speech and behaviour of us. Am I disappointing them? Even shocking them?

 

 Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13

 

This is clearly not a practice for the 21st Century! It does, however, remind us again of the concept of Oblation, of the freely given commitment, after proper discernment, to become an Oblate of a particular monastery, and to do so in the context of the Mass, in which Christ offers Himself for each of us at the Consecration.

 

We might pause today for a little prayerful thought about offering, commitment, sacrifice, love.

 

 

Chapter 60  The admission of priests to the monastery

 

August 14

 

This is a chapter which has little possible application to life outside the monastery, I often feel, yet the references to priests in the community being a living example of humility and stability could well be applied perhaps, to the kind of example we set to others in our daily lives, who may well know we are in theory practising Christians and will be expecting certain standards of attitude, speech and behaviour of us. Am I disappointing them? Even shocking them?

 

 Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13

 

This is clearly not a practice for the 21st Century! It does, however, remind us again of the concept of Oblation, of the freely given commitment, after proper discernment, to become an Oblate of a particular monastery, and to do so in the context of the Mass, in which Christ offers Himself for each of us at the Consecration.

 

We might pause today for a little prayerful thought about offering, commitment, sacrifice, love.

 

 

Chapter 60  The admission of priests to the monastery

 

August 14

 

This is a chapter which has little possible application to life outside the monastery, I often feel, yet the references to priests in the community being a living example of humility and stability could well be applied perhaps, to the kind of example we set to others in our daily lives, who may well know we are in theory practising Christians and will be expecting certain standards of attitude, speech and behaviour of us. Am I disappointing them? Even shocking them?

 

 Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13

 

This is clearly not a practice for the 21st Century! It does, however, remind us again of the concept of Oblation, of the freely given commitment, after proper discernment, to become an Oblate of a particular monastery, and to do so in the context of the Mass, in which Christ offers Himself for each of us at the Consecration.

 

We might pause today for a little prayerful thought about offering, commitment, sacrifice, love.

 

 

Chapter 60  The admission of priests to the monastery

 

August 14

 

This is a chapter which has little possible application to life outside the monastery, I often feel, yet the references to priests in the community being a living example of humility and stability could well be applied perhaps, to the kind of example we set to others in our daily lives, who may well know we are in theory practising Christians and will be expecting certain standards of attitude, speech and behaviour of us. Am I disappointing them? Even shocking them?

 

 Chapter 56  The Abbot’s Table

 

August 9

 

The Abbot is expected to eat with guests, if there are any, but otherwise with the community. Meals are a community event. This is another reminder to us of the importance of shared meals in our lives, with family, with friends, including those who live alone and rarely enjoy a shared meal. Have we thought to whom we might reach out? If we seem to have lost the sense of importance of shared meals, have we stopped to consider why? What do we need to change and reorganise, re-prioritise, so that there may be growth in the communities and friendships in which we belong? Companionship along the way is based on sharing bread - it comes from the Latin - we are not walking through life alone, but we may need to pray about how to strengthen our bonds and extend our hospitality, particularly to those without much in the way of family.

 

 

Chapter 57  Those with creative gifts

 

August 10

 

In a monastic community there is obviously a danger that those blessed with creative gifts might just think they are a bit special, and Benedict comes in here with a reminder of the need for humility. There is an interesting point, too, about the level of pricing in monastic shops.

 

What could we take from this chapter today for ourselves? Creative gifts are a huge blessing to ourselves and to others. Maybe those of us who flourish when we are creatively engaged should just be very grateful for the gift, and generous in sharing our gift with others. It is so lovely to both give and receive something which has been created with the heart.

 

Then, do we value the special gifts in other’s lives? Maybe creativity is not their strength, but no-one is without gifts with which to bless our world and many need encouragement to develop them. Do I encourage others to do so?

 

The final sentence of this chapter is of course the most important: ‘that God may be glorified in everything.’ We could use it in prayer at the start of each day.

 

 

Chapter 58  The reception of candidates for the Community

 

August 11

 

Those of us who are already, or are thinking of becoming Oblates, can take much from this chapter. The emphasis is on the process of discernment – is this the way for me? There are other, equally desirable paths which would lead us to God, so what is it about the Benedictine way which speaks to my heart particularly strongly? If we have been an Oblate for several years, it is valuable to go back to our beginnings and see where there has been growth, or where we have strayed off the path or lost it for a time completely. The monastic novice is given a spiritual guide to help with this discernment, and we too will find support in the Oblate team at our monastery, in our conversations with the Community and maybe with other Oblates too. No path is ever straight, flat, easy – all paths have bends and steep bits and rocks and boggy patches and may end up being walked in pouring rain or boot-level cloud. It takes a lifetime to discern, daily, how to walk the path with the support of the Rule of St Benedict and the Gospel. For this reason, as Benedict stresses here, the Rule is read so often, so that it may be internalised and nourish our spiritual growth. We, on our part, make a free decision to take this path and promise, with God’s help, perseverance and stability in so doing.

 

August 12

 

This section of chapter 58 will remind those of us who are already Oblates of the day of our Oblation, of the signing of the document on the altar, and the lovely words of the Suscipe: ‘Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.’ Psalm 118/119: v. 116. So today is obviously a day for recalling that special moment on our journey, reminding ourselves of what it meant to us then, and how, in the changes of life since that day, we have been blessed, supported and sustained, nourished and strengthened along what may often have been a hard road. There will surely be much for which to be deeply grateful.

 

As Oblates we receive the prayerful support of the Community, and offer the gift of our prayers for them, and our support in whatever ways we are able to give it.

 

We promise renewal of life according to the Rule of St Benedict. This is not an instant conversion job! Patience, perseverance, persistence, prayer…for the rest of our lives. But full of joy, because we will be growing daily in love of the God who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

 

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name, you are mine…

…you are precious in my eyes…You are honoured and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.    (Isaiah 43: vv 1-4)

 

 

Chapter 59  The offering of children to the monastery

 

August 13