Another Elder gave the following advice: "When you perceive that visitors are coming to visit you, before they knock on your door pray these words to God: ‘O Lord, protect all of us from judgment and from evil tongues, that my brothers might depart this place in peace and gratified’.
Reading: Mark 1:14-15
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Often my life is just too busy. Of course, then, the great danger is that I believe I am indispensable. I want to be at pretty well everything all of the time.
St. Benedict was well aware of the damage that indispensability do to our souls. Francis Kline, Abbot of Mepkin Abbey, explains how this worked in his own life:
Where I once boasted, though modestly of course, about my former skill in classical languages, in my exploits in carpentry, my dates with the rich and famous, as one who has had a career will do, I now appreciate and adopt a reserve. Since I am not playing the game the others are, they ignore me, think me gone dry, or out of step. . . . Instead, I must be content with the polite dismissal of the me who used to be, when my fur was shiny, when I was the centre of attention.
The monastic alternative – the observance of great feast days at regular intervals throughout an otherwise quiet life – can replace personal indulgences with community celebrations. Feast days point beyond the fussy preoccupations of the self to that which is universal and enduring.
Today, I’ll deliberately withdraw from the crowd. Will I feel guilty for not fulfilling my obligation? Do I feel sad or deprived? Am I nervous that friends got together and I was not there?
Lord, how difficult it is not to want to be at the centre of everything.