Friday, November 21, 2008

Monastic Piety

To live as a true lay apostle[1], to take seriously the promise that I signed on the altar of the monastery before the Sacred Presence, necessarily involves a constant vigilance on my part. It is a vigilance that takes deeply within the heart, mind, and soul the words of Christ when he says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”[2]

If I fail to make a conscious effort to daily die to myself, to the false self that I, and the rest of the world around me, can and will make of me, then I live unto myself; I live for pseudo-sanctified versions of vanity and vain glory. Without the conscious effort of daily self-crucifixion, even the good that I do has an inordinately selfish end, raises the false self up on a pedestal, makes me the object of the good that I do. I become a miserable counterfeit, dressed in the right outward garments and looking the part, but not truly the real item.

Monastic spirituality, particularly the spirituality of the contemplative Benedictine orders, calls me to a pietistic focus different than any that I’ve ever been familiar with along the varied paths of my Christian journey. Although the world and sadly a large portion of the Christian world no longer consider this form of spirituality vogue, it still, nonetheless, stands at the summit of Christian being. It still stands and offers to the world a standard, a model, an ideal of piety - of what it means to renounce self in order to follow Christ more perfectly.[3]

I see more clearly, I make a much more personal application of the scene where Christ turned over the tables and proceeded to drive out the profanation of the money-changers,[4] calling them thieves that pilfered and robbed. It is me. It is this temple[5] that needs constant attention - the constant and continual cleansing action that comes in the development of a more genuine piety centered in contrition and sacramental reception.

[1] Guidelines For Oblates Of St. Benedict, Sec. A, para. 3
[2] Luke 9:23
[3] Matthew 16:25
[4] Luke 19:45-48
[5] 1 Corinthians 3:16-17