I just started glancing through a new book and was so amused by the table of contents that I post it here entirely, for our edification and consideration of how Benedict’s instructions are so refreshingly different from those of our current crop of “thinkers” and “leaders”, our most popular talking heads
… A new 12 step program for our times direct to us from the “Dark Ages” … which appear to have been far more enlightened than we have been led to believe by our “betters” …
SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY
Step 1: Be afraid – FEAR OF GOD. Always have the fear of God before your eyes (Ps 36:2) and avoid all thoughtlessness so that you are constantly mindful of everything God has commanded.
Step 2: Don’t be true to yourself – SELF-DENIAL. Do not be in love with your own will, but put into practice that word of the Lord which says: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38).
Step 3: Don’t follow your dreams – OBEDIENCE. For the love of God, be obedient to those in authority over you, imitating the Lord, of whom the apostle says: He became “obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8).
Step 4: Suffer fools gladly – PERSEVERANCE. Be patient in suffering, even when you encounter difficulties and injustice, for Scripture says: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22).
Step 5: Put your worst foot forward – REPENTANCE. Never hide any of the evil thoughts which arise in your heart or the evils you commit in secret. Instead, reveal them to someone you trust. For Scripture says: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him” (Ps 37:5).
Step 6: Be someone’s doormat – SERENITY. When ill treatment comes your way, try to accept it. Learn to be content with the lowliest and worst of everything, and in all that is demanded of you.
Step 7: Have a poor self-image – SELF-ABASEMENT. Believe in your heart that you are an unworthy servant of God, humbling yourself and saying with the Prophet: “I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people” (Ps 22: 6).
Step 8: Think inside the box – PRUDENCE. Only do what is lawful, and follow the example of your elders.
Step 9: Don’t speak up – SILENCE. Only speak when you are spoken to, for Scripture says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prov 10:19).
Step 10: Laughter is not the best medicine – DIGNITY. Do not be too quick to laugh, for it is written: “A fool raises his voice when he laughs” (Sir 21:20).
Step 11: Be unassertive – DISCRETION. If you must speak, do so gently, humbly, earnestly, and quietly, with few and sensible words; for it is written: “The wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”
Step 12: Keep your chin down – REVERENCE. Wherever you go, bow your head in prayer, remembering the words of the publican: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk 18:13).
Augustine Wetta, Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)
I recently came across several writings and snippets about the gift of tears. Some comments on some posts referred to people who said they weep freely at Mass when they never used to, or they perhaps became emotional unintentionally.
I am one of those who find themselves often with tears running at Mass, and also when doing daily spiritual readings and thinking about these readings and meditations and how I apply them in my daily life. It seems at first glance to be more to this mysterious spiritual phenomenon than merely crying unexpectedly.
Some commenters seem to feel that this phenomenon (what I am experiencing) is a “gift”, and it is not merely because I am emotional, or easily moved. Some writers see it as a physical manifestation of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is formally known as “the gift of tears.”
The commenters go to some length to reassure the reader that I/we should not feel anxiety over this experience but recognize it as a great gift.
Father Bartunek , author of “The Better Part”, which I have referred to previously and highly recommend, explained in an article that this gift is one that has been explained through tradition rather than official documentation in Scripture or the Catechism. He defines this spiritual grace as an unbidden gift from the Holy Spirit that is bestowed on someone through the healing flow of tears shed.
The fruit of such tears leads both the recipient of this gift and others who witness it to joy and abiding peace. (He cautions that) … This definition supplants the mere notion that the gift of tears includes anyone who cries from a touching spiritual or emotional sentiment.
The gift of tears is considered a charismatic gift, a manifold of spiritual blessings to whomever the Holy Spirit grants it.
People who receive this gift may experience it only once or perhaps multiple times, but the gift itself is not an indication of one’s level of holiness or the achievement of perfect union with God. Many saints declared the importance of accepting with gratitude an unexpected source of consolation or perhaps divine insight, but they warned against the distraction of loving the gift rather than the Giver.
In other words, we should not focus our attention on any spiritual charism that happens to bless our lives but instead approach it with sincere and heartfelt thanksgiving while allowing it to become a fleeting memory.
Natural tears are often mistaken for this supernatural gift, especially when they occur during or after an intense spiritual experience. One must recognize one’s tendency toward weeping or the expression of deep emotions through tears in order to differentiate between the natural versus spiritual gift of tears.
The best distinction of the spiritual gift is by the resulting fruit. Is the person filled with an abiding peace or greater love for God? Are the people around him or her moved by the tears in the same manner? We must always remember that by our fruits they will know us. (read more here)
What seems to be common to all these experiences (for me) is that whatever the experience is, whether a moving spiritual reading, a meditation, a prayer, a great musical experience like chant, or a performance by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, (at top of post) or some of the work of Mozart, or Bach, or Renaissance Choral Music by, for example, Tallis or Allegri, whenever I have these experiences, the place I am at in my head at that moment during the experience is one of blinding realization of humanity’s place, that is, my tiny place, in God’s eternal now. It is just overwhelming.
So am I just a labile, highly sensitive, emotional cry-baby, or am I experiencing an important glimpse of reality, a momentary consolation along my path to spiritual growth? I don’t really know, but it is certainly greatly uplifting and peace inducing (and sometimes embarrassing afterwards as I fall back into old habitual modes of seeing).
Today my thoughts turn to the need for silence, God is calling to us continuously, and eventually, God takes us all home, willy-nilly, regardless of our desires and our interest. He takes us all home to our just end and we all find what we truly seek.
Our society puts little premium or credence on received wisdom. We value derived wisdom which we struggle to develop as we find it useful and productive but we disregard received wisdom, the wisdom of tradition and human experience. We receive God or Self, depending upon to which we give priority. Being still … being silent … accepting and understanding received wisdom, received reality … is unpopular in this busy culture, this noisy culture.
We need to understand reality NOT as something we achieve through hard work, labor, and suffering, not as something we create, but rather we need to understand reality as something we receive, something we are gifted with. In the understanding of this gift we must put aside our busy striving noisy self to embrace stillness, silence, and the gift of God’s creation through which we come to understand our own place in that creation and our true purpose … which is union with God.
We must embrace the putting aside of ourself, the discarding of our attachment to ourself, to make room for God in our soul. Be at rest, be still, and know God … “Be still, and know that I am God”. God is continually calling us home and we are too busy talking about ourself to listen to God and to gaze upon Him.
Perhaps this deafness and blindness to reality is a result of the ways, means, and modes of thought to which we are accustomed to turn, when working, when striving, in our society. These modes of thought are the tools by which we learn about and understand our reality.
But any tool is only as good as the thinking mind of the tool user. Tools of the mind condition the way the mind works. A “hammer”, and “hammering”, exclude other uses of hand and arm. What are we not doing, not thinking, because we are so busy doing? To what end are we so busy doing?
Psalm 40: 6-10
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
From the book “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” Section 31. I will never stop thanking the good, holy priests who generously give their whole lives for the kingdom of God. But I will untiringly denounce those who are unfaithful to the promises of their ordination. In order to make themselves known or to impose their personal views, both on the theological and the pastoral level, they speak again and again. These clerics repeat the same banal things. I could not affirm that God dwells within them.
Who can think their sheer outpourings to be a spring coming from the divine depths? But they talk, and the media love to listen to them in order to reecho their ineptitudes, particularly if they declare themselves in favor of the new posthumanist ideologies, in the realm of sexuality, the family, and marriage.
These clerics consider God’s thinking about conjugal life to be an “evangelical ideal”. Marriage is no longer a requirement willed by God, modeled and manifested in the nuptial bond between Christ and the Church. Some theologians in their presumptuousness and arrogance go so far as to assert personal opinions that are difficult to reconcile with revelation, tradition, the centuries-old Magisterium of the Church, and the teaching of Christ.
Thus, highly amplified by the blaring media, they go so far as to dispute God’s design. Have we not arrived at the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Paul VI, quoted by Jean Guitton in his book Paul VI secret: “There is great turmoil at this time in the world and in the Church, and what is in dispute is the faith. . . . What strikes me, when I look at the Catholic world, is that within Catholicism a sort of non-Catholic thought seems to predominate sometimes, and it may happen tomorrow that this non-Catholic thought will become the strongest within Catholicism. But it will never represent the mind of the Church. A tiny little flock has to continue in existence, however small it may be.”
It is urgent to listen again to the voice of Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (2 Cor 2:17) Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. . . . We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor 4:1-2)
Robert Cardinal Sarah . The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Kindle Locations 547-566). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
“… From this perspective, he can adopt as his own the step taken by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. Having retired from the public business of the Church, the former Secretary of State of Saint Pius X had composed a beautiful “Litany of Humility”, which he recited every day after celebrating Mass:
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make my heart like yours. From self-will, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord. That others may be loved more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be esteemed more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be chosen and I set aside, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be preferred to me in everything, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice. At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,Lord, I want to rejoice. When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they assign to me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What are our fondest desires, in fulsome pride? Self-Will, to be Esteemed, Loved, Extolled, Honored, Praised, Preferred, Consulted, Approved, Understood, Visited … pretty much covers the entire gamut of human pride, original sin, we know best, anyone who disagrees with us is wrong, and so on and so on.
What are our deepest fears? To be Humiliated, Despised, Rebuked, Calumniated, Forgotten, Ridiculed, Suspected, Wronged, Abandoned, Refused … again, pretty much covers the entire gamut of human fears, and yet, and yet …
Is this not a comprehensive iteration of how our culture, our “modern Progressive society”, has treated and continues to treat Christ in his every aspect and manifestation – the “man of sorrows”.
Does not our culture understand and apply to us (Christians) exactly those items which we fear most.
The prevalent culture, even as does ISIS, perceives humility as weakness. Since it is “safe” to attack Christians and Christianity, the Progressive society of our day feels they can attack us with impunity.
All the vile attacks, the endless ridicule and violence, while hypocritically pontificating and posturing about how “Brave” and “Courageous” they are attacking a target they are sure will not strike back. “Je suis Charlie” didn’t last very long, did it?
The sacred cow of “tolerance” is singularly lacking in the Liberal, Democratic culture that hates ANYTHING that does not approve of their deviant lifestyle. Except no one in our progressive society or our mainstream media would even dream of applying the same terms to the “Religion of Peace”.
Thus they reveal for the world the fundamental cowardice of all Progressive philosophies. Thus, unwittingly, they re-assure ISIS and all of Islam that they are no threat. They WILL always accommodate strength and force.
The chestless poltroons in our cultural leadership, the self proclaimed “Brights” of the new enlightenment, will embrace ANYTHING, even Dhimmitude,Kharaj, and Jizya as long as they can escape punishment and discomfort.
And thus they doom themselves to an eternity of slavery and evil.
Even ISIS sees the evil inherent in our culture. That evaluation of our prevalent culture and our leadership is not very humble, eh? So, bring it on! Peace be upon you, may the unification of all true believers come now according to the prophecy of Fatima. Please come now!
5For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many. 6And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places: 8Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows. Mat 24 : 5-8
My daughter tells me I am in “Eeyore” mode. I suppose there is some truth in that but I just don’t see a lot of cause for cheery optimism in the panoply of saints and leaders currently in favour.
Even reports that our current Pope is the most beloved of all the popes by the usual communists, socialists and androgynous progressive brights since we started having popes and media fails to stir me.
I did note that they managed to totally ignore his prolific expositions on the family and on the rights of the unborn. What are the odds that their observation and consideration of his encyclical on the environment will bring about an examination of his encyclicals on pedocide, pedophilia, homosexuality and eldercide, and perhaps a reconsideration of their positions on those topics.
So far there is nothing but a deafening silence in these rooms. I wonder …