CHOOSING FOR GOOD
AND NOT FOR ILL
BENEDICTINE OBLATES
ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY
DULUTH, MINNESOTA
9 MARCH 2014

L'offerta ...
Choosing for Good
• Choice: the decisions
we make.
• We use our minds, our
hearts, and our spirits.
• Most people, most of...
Choosing for good can be hard

Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

“For we know that
the law is spiritual;
but I am of the fles...
Quitting and Leaving
Cognitive Psychology
describes the brain’s
TWO ways of thinking:
1. Fast / habitual / auto
2. Deliberative, reason
http://...
Cognitive Psychology of Virtue
• Without System 1, we
are stuck in a minute
• Without System 2, we
have no control
• Repea...
Desert Abbas & Ammas
“There is labor and great struggle for the
impious who are converted to God, but
after that comes ine...
VALUES
&
VIRTUES

L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
Values and Virtues
Values are principles for
a group or society
• “A principle, standard, or
quality considered
worthwhile...
Values in Benedictine Organizations
St. Scholastica

St. John’s and St. Ben’s

•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Hospi...
“Virtue” is an ancient concept
• Virtues move towards what is good.
• Ancient traditions
– Greek and Roman philosophers na...
“Theological” virtues are Christian

http://www.sabecorse.net/3theologicalvirtues.htm
Values and Virtues
Virtues are practices and actions
of an individual
• “Firm attitudes, stable dispositions,
habitual per...
CHOOSING GOOD
ST. BENEDICT’S WAY

L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
Benedictine and Monastic Virtues
• “Charisms” are specific ways of
living the Christian life.
– They have particular pract...
Make many small choices every day
• Habits of action help us do
good even without thinking
• Prayers, the psalms, reading
...
The Cellarer

Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

(Chapter 31)
Wise, mature character
Temperate
God-fearing
Keep custody of ord...
The Cellarer
Not excessive eater
Not haughty or turbulent
Not harmful or sluggish
Not wasteful
Do nothing without order
No...
• A regular set of practices
• Community living

• Forgiving
• Asking pardon
• Not holding possessions
• Sharing all tasks...
The Abbot or Prioress

Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

Do what she teaches
Observe differences of
good deeds/obedience
Show...
The Abbot or Prioress
Don't do what she forbids
Don't observe statuses
Don't disregard vices
Don't worry about earthly
con...
Imbalance is possible in two ways
“Keep on doing the things
you have learned and
received and heard and
seen in me, and the God
of peace will greatly
rejoic...
HOW TO EVALUATE
YOUR CHOOSING

L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
Good and Bad Zeal
Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

• “Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which
separates from God a...
Chapter 72:
Measuring up
Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

• “Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which
separates fro...
Chapter 72:
Measuring up
Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue

• “Thus they should anticipate one another in honor.”
• “They most...
“After ascending all these steps
of humility, the monk will
quickly arrive at that perfect
love of God which casts out
fea...
BREAK TO GET COFFEE
THEN DISCUSSION

L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
CHOOSING FOR GOOD
AND NOT FOR ILL
BENEDICTINE OBLATES
ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY
DULUTH, MINNESOTA
9 MARCH 2014

L'offerta ...
Choosing for Good and Not for Ill: Benedictine Virtues
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Choosing for Good and Not for Ill: Benedictine Virtues

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Presentation for Oblates of St Scholastica Monastery, Duluth MN on 9 March 2014. Focus on virtues that monks are instructed to do and how they are to avoid the vices proscribed. Also drawing on Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow.

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Choosing for Good and Not for Ill: Benedictine Virtues

  1. 1. CHOOSING FOR GOOD AND NOT FOR ILL BENEDICTINE OBLATES ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY DULUTH, MINNESOTA 9 MARCH 2014 L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  2. 2. Choosing for Good • Choice: the decisions we make. • We use our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. • Most people, most of the time, if they can make a choice, will choose what they think will lead to good. • AND YET … https://lh3.ggpht.com/1Hb4US1tr9A/UorXdhIGTOI/AAAAAAAAB1E/4P3uBw8TMGc/s1600/path12.jpg
  3. 3. Choosing for good can be hard Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:14-15
  4. 4. Quitting and Leaving
  5. 5. Cognitive Psychology describes the brain’s TWO ways of thinking: 1. Fast / habitual / auto 2. Deliberative, reason http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/06/sketchnoting/
  6. 6. Cognitive Psychology of Virtue • Without System 1, we are stuck in a minute • Without System 2, we have no control • Repeated actions and choices train our System 1 by reason • This is a modern description of the ancient working of the virtues.
  7. 7. Desert Abbas & Ammas “There is labor and great struggle for the impious who are converted to God, but after that comes inexpressible joy. One who wants to light a fire first is plagued by smoke, and the smoke drives him to tears, yet he finally gets the fire he wants. It is written: Our God is a consuming fire. Hence we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with labor and with tears.” Amma Mary of Egypt Amma Synclectica
  8. 8. VALUES & VIRTUES L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  9. 9. Values and Virtues Values are principles for a group or society • “A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.” (The Free Dictionary, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/values) • “Society should be animated by a just hierarchy of values.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1895) http://www.suncorp.com.au/corporate/careers/life-at-suncorp/values
  10. 10. Values in Benedictine Organizations St. Scholastica St. John’s and St. Ben’s • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Hospitality Respect Stewardship Community (College) Love of Learning (College) Justice (Benedictine HS) Awareness of God Community Living Taking Counsel Respect for persons Listening Dignity of work Hospitality Stewardship Truthful living Moderation Common Good Justice
  11. 11. “Virtue” is an ancient concept • Virtues move towards what is good. • Ancient traditions – Greek and Roman philosophers named and practiced virtues; e.g. Plato: • prudence • Justice • Fortitude • Temperance. – Both ancient and modern religions recognize similar virtues – The early Church adopted Plato’s core virtues as “cardinal”
  12. 12. “Theological” virtues are Christian http://www.sabecorse.net/3theologicalvirtues.htm
  13. 13. Values and Virtues Virtues are practices and actions of an individual • “Firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith.” • “They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous person is one who freely practices the good.” • “Virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1804) Justice bears her scales; Prudence carries a mirror to remind us that we must "know thyself“ first; Temperance carries a cup and pitcher, pouring just enough. Fortitude is shown as a warrior with sword and shield.
  14. 14. CHOOSING GOOD ST. BENEDICT’S WAY L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  15. 15. Benedictine and Monastic Virtues • “Charisms” are specific ways of living the Christian life. – They have particular practices taught by their founder. – These practices are designed to help the person grow in holiness and become centered in God. • St Benedict’s Rule and the example of his life teach us his specific path. • The Rule does not name values, it teaches practices of virtue. St Benedict written by Sr Mary Charles McGough
  16. 16. Make many small choices every day • Habits of action help us do good even without thinking • Prayers, the psalms, reading scripture form our minds so our thoughts are for good. • We must turn aside the other thoughts persistently.
  17. 17. The Cellarer Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue (Chapter 31) Wise, mature character Temperate God-fearing Keep custody of orders Deny bad requests kindly Keep custody of own soul Care for sick, children, guests and poor Treat all goods as sacred vessels of the altar Give everything in proper measure
  18. 18. The Cellarer Not excessive eater Not haughty or turbulent Not harmful or sluggish Not wasteful Do nothing without order Not sadden the brothers Not treat with disdain Not neglect anything Not be avaricious Not wasteful, squanderer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monk_tasting_wine_from_a_barrel.jpg
  19. 19. • A regular set of practices • Community living • Forgiving • Asking pardon • Not holding possessions • Sharing all tasks as possible http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/mysisterlocks/Wo man_Divine.jpg • Serving one another and guests
  20. 20. The Abbot or Prioress Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue Do what she teaches Observe differences of good deeds/obedience Show equal love Use equal discipline Be solicitous of all Provide for others Chaste, sober, merciful Love the brothers Strive to be loved Discerning, moderate, farsighted, considerate Keep the Rule
  21. 21. The Abbot or Prioress Don't do what she forbids Don't observe statuses Don't disregard vices Don't worry about earthly concerns Don't preside over them Mercy over judgment Hate vices Don't be feared Not turbulent, anxious, excessive, obstinate, jealous, prone to suspicion Don't excuse self Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue
  22. 22. Imbalance is possible in two ways
  23. 23. “Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will greatly rejoice you.” Philippians 4:9 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0f/ Menas.jpg/180px-Menas.jpg
  24. 24. HOW TO EVALUATE YOUR CHOOSING L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  25. 25. Good and Bad Zeal Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue • “Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting.” • How do I know which is leading me? • DISCERNMENT is a key virtue for Benedictines. • • • • Watching carefully and mindfully to see God’s action & call in my life Striving to be aware of what I am doing and thinking. Being ready to hear from others what has gone well and ill. Trying to do better tomorrow than what I did today. Photo by Sister Edith Bogue https://secure.flickr.com/photos/edithosb/
  26. 26. Chapter 72: Measuring up Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue • “Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting.” • How do I know which is leading me? • DISCERNMENT is a key virtue for Benedictines. • • • • Watching carefully and mindfully to see God’s action & call in my life Striving to be aware of what I am doing and thinking. Being ready to hear from others what has gone well and ill. Trying to do better tomorrow than what I did today. Photo by Sister Edith Bogue https://secure.flickr.com/photos/edithosb/
  27. 27. Chapter 72: Measuring up Photo © by Sister Edith Bogue • “Thus they should anticipate one another in honor.” • “They most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or of character” • “They vie in showing obedience one to another.” • “No one following what she considers useful for herself, but rather what benefits another.” Photo by Sister Edith Bogue https://secure.flickr.com/photos/edithosb/
  28. 28. “After ascending all these steps of humility, the monk will quickly arrive at that perfect love of God which casts out fear (I John 4:18).” “Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue.” “All this the Lord will by the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in his workman now cleansed of vice and sins.” RB 7.67-70
  29. 29. BREAK TO GET COFFEE THEN DISCUSSION L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  30. 30. CHOOSING FOR GOOD AND NOT FOR ILL BENEDICTINE OBLATES ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY DULUTH, MINNESOTA 9 MARCH 2014 L'offerta dell'abate Desiderio a S.Benedetto. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

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