Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Good Works of St Benedict

Saint Benedict (480-547 AD)
As we celebrate today the feast of St Benedict, I want you to reflect on a chapter from his Rule which is very prayerful, very scriptural and worth keeping to pray along with. It is called the ‘Instruments of Good Works.’ To save space on my blog, I will post the list as a continuous paragraph.

In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, and the whole strength. Then one’s neighbor as if oneself. Then, not to kill. Not to commit adultery. Not to steal. Not to covet. Not to utter false witness. To honor all men. To do as one would be done by. To deny oneself that one may follow Christ. To chastise the body. Not to embrace delights. To love fasting. To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick. To bury the dead. To help in tribulation. To console the sorrowing. To become a stranger to worldly deeds. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Not to carry anger into effect. Not to prolong the duration of one’s wrath. Not to retain guile in one’s heart. Not to make a false peace. Not to abandon charity. Not to swear, lest perchance one forswear. To utter only truth from heart and mouth. Not to return evil for evil. Not to do injury, but to suffer it patiently. To love enemies. Not to curse in return those who curse one, but rather to bless them. To bear persecution for righteousness.
Not to be proud. Not to be given to much wine. Not to be gluttonous. Not given to much sleep. Not to be sluggish. Not to be given to grumbling. Not to be a detractor. To put one’s hope in God. When one sees any good in oneself to attribute it to God, not to self. But to recognize that evil always comes from self and to refer it to self. To have a wholesome fear of the day of judgment. With fear to shrink from hell. To long for eternal life with all spiritual desire. To have the expectation of death daily before one’s eyes. Hour by hour to keep guard over one’s every act. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere. Forthwith to dash down upon the Rock, even Christ, any evil thoughts approaching the heart: and to lay them open before one’s superior. To keep one’s mouth from evil or depraved speech. Not to love to speak much. Not to speak useless or mirth-provoking words. Not to love much or excessive laughter. To listen with goodwill to holy reading. To be frequently occupied in prayer. With tears and groaning daily to confess in prayer to God one’s past sins and concerning those same sins to amend for the future.
Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh: to hate one’s own will. To yield obedience in all things to the abbot’s precepts, even if he himself act contrary to their spirit, the which be far from him: being mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; but what they do, do ye not.” Not to wish to be called holy before one is, but to be so first, whereby one would be so called the more truly. By deeds daily to fulfil the precepts of God. To love chastity. Not to hate anyone. Not to harbour jealousy. Not to love contention. To avoid elation. To venerate seniors. To love juniors. In the love of Christ to pray for one’s enemies. In case of discord with anyone to make peace before the setting of the sun. And never to despair of the mercy of God.

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