Daily Riches: The “Benedictine Century” (Joan Chittister)

“The Rule of Benedict was a spiritual document written for males raised in Imperial Rome. But to Roman men in the patriarchal culture who were trained that domination and status and power were their birthright and their purpose in life, the Rule insisted on new ideals: humility, listening, community, equality, and service. …Benedictine spirituality, then, is first and foremost a practical way to live the good news of the gospel today. This society is a complex, consumer society; we can be simple. We can reverence creation. We can refuse to have one thing more than we need. …We can refuse to keep anything we are not using. We can give one thing away for every one thing we receive. …This society exploits. It breaks the back of sugar workers; it destroys farm workers; it wipes out the working person; it discards the middle-aged and forgets the elderly. We can minister to the world by calling for justice. This society dominates and is selfish and has it’s own goals as the inner force of its life. We can be community. We can say by our lives that there are times when it is important for us to step back in life so that others can gain. This society depends on power. We can practice the power of the powerless who show us all how little it really takes to live, how rich life is without riches, how strong are those who cannot be owned…. We can be the voice of those who are not heard and the hands of those who have no bread and the family of those who are alone and the strength of those who are weak. We can be the sign of human community. Finally, this society is anxious and angry and noisy. We can be contemplative. In the midst of chaos, if the Scripture is in our hearts, if we are faithful to lectio, if we build the Jesus-life in our own souls, we can see God where God is. Everywhere. Those are the elements of Benedictine vision that saved the Western world over the centuries again and again and again. Then they can save us from ourselves once more.” Joan Chittister

“even more blessed
are all who hear the word of God
and put it into practice.”
Jesus in Luke 11:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was God speaking to you at some point in this reading?
  • Do you long to be part of such a community of faith?
  • Have you adopted a “rule of life” which guides your practice of these ideals of Jesus?

Abba, change me as I rediscover and embrace these ancient ideals.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by John Chittister

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Make Up Your Mind About Others … Once and For All (Henri Nouwen and Marcus Borg)

“To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: ‘Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; … do not condemn; … forgive’ (Luke 6:36-37). In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.” Henri Nouwen

“Those of my university students who have grown up outside of the church (about half of them) have a very negative stereotypical view of Christianity. When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity, they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted.” Marcus Borg

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.
If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
Romans 9:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often do you judge, condemn, evaluate, classify or label someone? …even someone you don’t really know?
  • When you catch yourself, do you beat yourself up? Can you just stop? Can you take another look and practice compassion–or attempt some understanding?
  • Can you make up your mind once and for all to see others as God does–with compassion, forgiveness and grace? …to see them as bearing God’s image? …as someone God loves? …as someone God is for? …as a confused person in need of a Savior? …as a broken person in need of a friend? …as someone like you?
  • Do you ever look at people (like while waiting in the doctor’s office) and just let your heart go out to them in love? Try it!

Abba, remind me daily that I’ve made up my mind to look upon others only with love. May your love for me spill over to others.

For More: Bread for the Journey by Henry Nouwen

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Meeting God in the Poor (Henri Nouwen and Dean Brackley)

“We all suspect that the world is a crueler place than we dare to admit. Since the poor confront us with this evil, it is tempting to avoid them. But if we let their stories break our hearts, they can open our eyes to marvels we scarcely dared imagine. They reveal the revolution of love that God is bringing about in the world. There is a lot of dying going on, but a lot of rising as well. That is the deepest meaning of history and of our lives. But we perceive the daily resurrections only if we open our eyes to the crucifixions. To share the hope of the poor, we must let their suffering move us and place us before the Holy Mystery laboring among us.” Dean Brackley

“When we are not afraid to confess our own poverty, we will be able to be with other people in theirs. The Christ who lives in our own poverty recognises the Christ who lives in other people’s. Just as we are inclined to ignore our own poverty, we are inclined to ignore others’. We prefer not to see people who are destitute, we do not like to look at people who are deformed or disabled, we avoid talking about people’s pains and sorrows, we stay away from brokenness, helplessness, and neediness. By this avoidance we might lose touch with the people through whom God is manifested to us. But when we have discovered God in our own poverty, we will lose our fear of the poor and go to them to meet God. …The poor have a treasure to offer precisely because they cannot return our favours. By not paying us for what we have done for them, they call us to inner freedom, selflessness, generosity, and true care. Jesus says: ‘When you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.’  (Luke 14:13-14).” Henri Nouwen

“He will rescue the poor …
for their lives are precious to him.”
Psalm 72:12-14

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you honest with yourself about “poverty” in your life?
  • Are you inclined to ignore people who make you uncomfortable? …what in you makes you uncomfortable?
  • Do you think a poor person could teach you anything about “inner freedom, selflessness [or] generosity?”
  • Is that even logistically possible – do you ever actually make a point to speak with or know someone who is poor?

Abba, thank you for truly poor friends who love, inspire, encourage and instruct me.

For More: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”