Giving ourselves away

Chapter 63 in St Benedict’s Rule, on “Community Rank,” stipulates how order is determined in community life. The first sentence—“The monks keep their rank in the monastery according to the date of their entry, the virtue of their lives, and the decision of the abbot”—brings to mind the concept of "negotiateds and givens." There is a fixed point—one’s date of entry into the monastery—but around that absolute point there is scope for movement depending upon interior and exterior forces which are mutable in some way.
What about the negotiateds and givens of our lives in general? Each of us is characterized by a certain set of givens, our date of birth, our ancestry and genetic makeup, maybe even our basic personality structure. These are fixed points not subject to choice or alteration.
But there is scope for movement and negotiables in the monastery, representing interior volitional forces and exterior communal ones. Of these the only one we have free play with is the interior one—the virtue of our lives, the everyday choices we make that reveal our priorities, whether the deepest ones or those of the moment.
This is a great gift, this blank space of a stage in which we are free to act. The question is, what do we do with this space we’re given? Do we look to the fixed points of reference and concede defeat? Do we look to external communal factors and fall into cynical despond about “being done to”? The reality is, this interior space for the exercise of virtue is the very space Jesus was given to operate in and in which he fulfilled all he had come to do. We have no less space than Jesus. How are we choosing to use it?


Recent Issues

May 2024

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

December 2023

November 2023

October 2023

July 2023

May 2023

January 2023

December 2022

October 2022

September 2022

July 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

February 2021

January 2021

December 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015