Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Praylium and St. Benedict (revised)

**I had to revise this entry ff. some reflection while on the tractor** 

Our spirits can grow lazy and often times satan is betting on it.

We may not want to do the work of the spiritual life.
We may not want to get rid of the weeds and cultivate the soil and life of the soul.
We may indulge our spirits in pursuits that distract and take us away from being centered on Christ.
We may lose the balance of prayer and fasting.
We may not have the support of a spouse or friends or family or even community to continue to seek the higher ground.
We may simply be too worn out or tired or defeated.

Just a few short days ago we celebrated the Feast of St. Benedict, the father of western monasticism.
During my time in seminary, when Latin was seen as a dead and buried language, we were given the exercise of spontaneous preaching.  One fellow picked the card that said "St. Benedict".  He stood up, cleared his throat, and said, "Ora et labora...these are Latin words.  Let us pray to St. Benedict for his intercession."  Then he sat down.  The professor had a bird.
St. Benedict--F. Angelico

That was it.

For the past 20 years, whenever I'd lead a mission trip, the theme was simple.  Ora et Labora.

I often wonder if the countless youth and adults on all those trips ever connected with the saying.  I wonder, as their years progressed, if St. Benedict's simple method left a mark.  When life got tough, when they questioned the very existence of God, when suffering and despair wouldn't cease or when they were simply overwhelmed and assaulted by evil.
The mission trips were never about building the house--they were about building the soul..and building the soul takes work.

I hope they got it.
But there was something I forgot to share--many years ago.

St. Benedict combats satan.

In the holiest of places on this earth--where God becomes manifest--so too does evil exist--this is a spiritual reality.
During my time on pilgrimages I would witness demons cast out as well as demons that would not leave.
During my time as a therapist I would encounter an innocent child who was beaten and abused.
During my time as a priest I would encounter wonderful growth in community and in people's hearts only to be squelched by the sins of gossip and pride.
During my time as a husband and father, a priest, a brother, a son, and a friend I allowed my will not to cooperate with Grace but darkness.
But the Good News is Christ.... and St. Benedict is a living witness to the quest that evil does not win--and that through prayer and work we become one with Christ.

Yep--that's what I would share with those first mission trips--just a little more info.