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Stability is one of the three vows that Benedictine sisters and monks take. This presentation considers what this vow might mean for lay people in every day life. Originally given as a retreat at St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013.

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  1. 1. 1. The state or quality of being stable, especially: a. Resistance to change, deterioration, or displacement. b. Constancy of character or purpose; steadfastness. c. Reliability; dependability. 2. The ability of an object, such as a ship or aircraft, to maintain equilibrium or resume its original, upright position after displacement, as by the sea or strong winds. 3. Roman Catholic Church A vow committing a Benedictine monk to one monastery for life. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton MifflinCompany.Updated in 2009.
  2. 2. Stability and Instability • Bad types of monastics • Gyrovague (no fixed abode) • Sarabaite (desires=rule) • Strong monastics: cenobites • Accept a Rule • Under an abbot / prioress • Live in a monastery
  3. 3. Merton observed that St Benedict "introduced this vow into his Rule precisely because he knew that the limitations of the monk, and the limitations of the community he lived in, formed a part of God's plan for the sanctification both of individuals and of communities." In making this vow, "the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a 'perfect monastery.' " Schlabach, Gerald. (1998). TheVow of Stability: A Premodern WayThrough a Hypermodern World
  4. 4. Time as Cycle of God'sYear
  5. 5. Stability in the Rule • Ch 58.4,9, 17: Promise • Chapter 4: The "location" for using the Tools for Good Works. • Ch 60: Stability applies to priests as well • Ch 66: Porter's "maturity will prevent her from straying about. " • Ch 64: Abbot/Prioress is "not excitable"
  6. 6. Sources of Instability • Fear (Prologue 48) • "Craving of their appetites" (sarabaites) • "Slaves to own will & delights of the palate" so "ever on the move & never stable" (Ch 1: gyrovagues) • "Own fault" (Chapter 29) • Free will (Ch 58) • "Devil's suggestion" (Ch 58)
  7. 7. • Theology tells us that God is unchanging • "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) • Yet passages of Scripture paint a picture of God thinking better of an initial plan. • What can passages like these tell us about God's stability?
  8. 8. Scripture Passages to Consider • Exodus 32:1-14 • Genesis 22:1-19 • Jonah Ch 1 - 4 • Genesis 8 • Psalm 77 • 1 Samuel 15 • Luke 22:39-43 • Luke 22:54-62
  9. 9. Take5minutestoponderorwrite yourthoughts;wewillsharesome.
  10. 10. LINEAR TIME, HISTORICAL TIME Birth Child Youth Adult Death • We enter at conception • We live each moment • Circumstances form us (family, schools, jobs, events) • We exit at death • The secular perspective sees time as motion, progress, a single direction. • Culture defines the purpose or goal of time
  11. 11. Affluenza: The Culture of More 1 6 affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf)
  12. 12. Culture of Perfection • Best quality • Best deal • Latest edition or style • "You deserve better" • "It's not fair" • Easily offended • Easily dissatisfied with service
  13. 13. Internet ImpactsOur Lives •FOMO •ICYMI •YOLO •Meme
  14. 14. 19 Post-Modern Culture •Perhaps there is no reality. •Relativism: we each exist in our own valid form of reality.
  15. 15. Self-Change • Diet • Exercise • Personality • Intelligence / Cognition • Relationships • Efficiency • Productivity • Creativity
  16. 16. This culture leads to • Constant sense of dissatisfaction with life. • Constant anxiety that one should be better • Constant attempt to make the right choice • Constant sense that change is needed
  17. 17. How can we find stability in such an upside-down culture? 2 3 The Whole World in a Crystal Ball by xollob58 at
  18. 18. Some people refer to these blogs and books as "productivity porn." They have a common premise: change is crucial and we have to do it ourselves.
  19. 19. Distractions
  20. 20. Overwork
  21. 21. Quitting and Leaving
  22. 22. Ponder for a moment:
  23. 23. The importance of "the team" • "Thank you" for doing what you promised. • Overlooking and accepting • Need each other for survival & success • "The team" can be just two people.
  24. 24. Community Building in Rule • Readily confess faults and ask forgiveness. • Be ready to make peace and to forgive. • Order things so that "no one is distressed in the house of God."
  25. 25. Avoiding the Negatives • Be there for prayer, for the common table. • Do not grumble and complain. • Do not compare what you get with others.
  26. 26. Daily Practices • Strive to outdo each other in mutual love and service. • Honor the elders, love the juniors. • Give a kind word if you have to say no. • Never turn away from someone who needs your love.
  27. 27. Stability in the Faith Community • Liturgical Prayer • Worship • Regular time together • Sharing Joy
  28. 28. “The external practices of monastic life are directly connected with our search for God. In and through these practices we express our spiritual values and ideals, and daily live out our commitment to God.” Cummings, Monastic Practices
  29. 29. Take5minutestoponderapractice forbuildingyour"team"forstability
  30. 30. “Seeking workers in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to us and asks, “Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?” “What, dear friends, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.” RB Prologue.14-15, 19-20 Nurturing the First Fervor
  31. 31. The Desert Abbas and Ammas Fidelity by removing from the source of distractions. Meditation on Scripture Habits of life Amma Mary of Egypt
  32. 32. Humility andThe Rule • Chapter 7 is the longest chapter in Benedict’s Rule. • Ch. 7 is the culmination of its spiritual foundations. • Humility counteracts the cultural force of "more" and "the best"
  33. 33. Silence • Restraint of speech helps us listen to God . • This allows others to maintain their prayer. • “The tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.” (James 3:5) • This also includes choosing what other sounds and presences to have (TV, radio) and when.
  34. 34. “Be imitators of me” • The apostles and fervent Christians, became the models for others. • St. Paul, in the earliest text in the New Testament, tells the Thessalonians to imitate him. • The Epistles record the advice, the spiritual counsel, shared to help Christians on the journey
  35. 35. “Our life in its outward practices as well as its inward spirit becomes totally oriented towards seeking and finding God.” Cummings, Monastic Practices
  36. 36. Take5minutestoponderapractice for enhancingyour fidelitytothe monasticwayoflife.
  37. 37. Lectio Divina • Monastic reading is a spiritual encounter • Nothing rejected as unfit automatically, if God be sought, BUT • Much is better avoided for guard of the heart • “Sustained lectio” with a single text over a period of months or years” Sr. Meg Funk Lectio Matters
  38. 38. A regular pattern of lectio and prayer creates constant dialogue with God: Listening Waiting Hearing Speaking
  39. 39. • Gravitas is important to Benedict • An aspect of wisdom. • Compare with the speech we hear around us daily • loud • snappy repartee • sarcastic • What happens to our idea if we don’t speak?
  40. 40. Humble prayer • The inner practice of humility, of neither expecting or rejecting good things. • The humility of mutual obedience, listening and attending to the needs of others. • Fostering hope not despair.
  41. 41. “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
  42. 42. Spiritual Practices & Contempltation
  43. 43. There is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell There is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and eternal life. RB 72.1-2
  44. 44. Stability: BeingWhereYou Are, FixingYour Heart • Moment-by-moment giving of self to the place and people with which one is engaged. • Views relationships as meaningful, rather than as a means to an end. • Bears the burdens and behaviors of others as sharing the suffering of the Body of Christ.
  45. 45. Learning to MoveThroughTime • Patient endurance • Spirituality of waiting • Remembering God's mercy and gifts • Prefer nothing to Chris
  46. 46. “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
  47. 47. 62
  48. 48. “Is there anything more painful than realizing you did not know the right questions to ask at the only time on earth you would have the opportunity to do so.” Alice Walker: The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart.
  49. 49. AlwaysWe Begin Again • We do make progress on this journey. • Yet each day offers both challenge and opportunity. • The journey of humility is filled with the suffering and the joy of the Paschal Mystery.
  50. 50. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9)
  51. 51. Take 5 minutes to ponder something you want to take away from this day.