Oblate Meetings 2013-14:
A School of the Lord's Service: Building Benedictine Virtues
Inquirers are always welcome.
Patience & Zeal
January 12, 2014
Hope and Not Despair
Forgiveness and Not Anger
Choosing for Good and Not Ill
April 12 (Sat.)
Retreat: Persistent Prayer
Stability: Staying and Not Leaving
Going out in the mail this week!
I am looking forward to our Advent meeting on December 15. While the advertisers are intent on telling us that this is the Christmas season, we can be equally intent on keeping this time of waiting and watching, of preparing our hearts to welcome the Christ child. The topic for our meeting, chosen from Chapter 72 of The Rule, is Patience and Zeal. After Midday Prayer at 1pm, I will show how Sister Aquinata Böckmann discovered and illuminated connections in this chapter, and share some other ideas about the connection of zeal and patience. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well. At 2:30pm, we will break for fellowship and cookies, ending our time together around 3pm.
At first glance, zeal and patience seems a mismatched pair. Zealots are not known for their patience, and the stereotype of patient people rarely includes the burning spirit of zeal. Yet, with a little study, we can see why Benedict put them together in this chapter that draws together all of his themes as he concludes his “little rule for beginners.”
Zeal is not always counted among the virtues. The term has a whiff of fanaticism; to be called zealous or (worse yet) a zealot for something may be uncomplimentary. Dictionary definitions quickly move from “a feeling of strong eagerness” to “excessive fervor to do something or accomplish some end,” often noting that jealous derives from the same Greek roots. Benedict himself seems ambivalent. He speaks of Good Zeal in the title of his chapter, but begins it by writing of the “evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell.” Patience is not always seen as a happy virtue either. We admire those who seem to have a great deal of it, and marvel at saints who showed special endurance. We long for the virtue of patience when we are chafing with impatience. From the outside, though, it seems like a tedious virtue that helps us be good to others, but certainly doesn’t seem likely to bring joy to the one who is practicing it.
At our meeting, we will probe the way Benedict joins the dangerous virtue of zeal to the unexciting virtue of patience to describe the heart of the monastic way of life. It promises to be a good discussion! I’ve printed two reflections on this chapter on the back to spark some of your thinking.
You are especially invited to join the sisters for Advent Prayer any day of the week. During Advent, one of the sisters offers a biblical reflection at Saturday Evening Prayer – the “first vespers” of Sunday. The first Mass of Christmas, celebrated in the early evening of December 24, includes songs at the manger and a party in the Dining Room: always a beautiful time to be at the monastery.
With the new year, our year-long study of Benedictine Virtues takes up contrasts, in which The Rule tells us what to do, and what not to do: Hope and Not Despair (January), Forgiveness and Not Anger (February), Choosing for Good and Not Ill (March), Persistent Prayer for our Retreat Day on April 12 (notice that the Retreat is moved to April!) and Stability: Staying and Not Leaving (May). I hope you are looking forward to these meetings as much as I am.
Links to Apostolic Exhortation document
Vatican website for official text of Evangelii Gaudium (read online with hyperlinks)
PDF of the official text of Evangelii Gaudium (no table of contents or hyperlinks)
- The Joy of the Gospel: Part I (visionyouthmag.wordpress.com)
- Pope Francis releases Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com)
- All Catholics must become evangelisers, says Francis in major new document (catholicherald.co.uk)
- In Major Document, Pope Francis Presents His Vision – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Pope Francis lays out a blueprint for his papacy in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (religionnews.com)
Ever since the Occupy Wall Street (and Occupy Duluth…) event, a group of people have taken up the Occupy Advent theme on Twitter. It is neither affiliated with nor contrary too the original Occupy movement — but moves the honest and insightful secular perspective on inequities in the world into a Christian framework that looks at the dignity of each human being and our patient (and impatient) waiting for God’s Kingdom to come on the earth.
On the eve of this Solemnity of Christ the King, a holy day designated in the midst of labor strife to recognize that it is Christ, not the corporation or military might, who is the true leader of the world, the Occupy Advent group on Twitter is about to begin again.
If you have a twitter account, you can follow@OccupyAdvent to receive the prayers every day.
Oblates are invited to participate in the annual Monastery Christmas Sale in several ways:
- Come on December 5th and shop for home-made gifts. Items this year include some art work by Sr. Mary Charles of happy memory. The word is that new items will be added throughout the day — you may have to make more than one visit!
- Volunteer to help on the day of the sale by contacting Sister Helen Giesen
- You may still be able to Donate Items for the sale — check with Sister Helen Giesen.
- To contact Sister Helen: Call the Monastery Information Desk
The money from the Christmas Sale goes to support the many ministries of the Sisters in the Duluth area and around the world.