Stability: Staying and Not Leaving


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Slides from a presentation to the Benedictine Oblates of St Scholastica Monastery in May 2014. What do we mean by promising stability, and how do we live it in a modern world of constant change?

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Stability: Staying and Not Leaving

  1. 1. Staying a n d Not Leaving Benedictine Oblates St. Scholastica Monastery 18 May 2014
  3. 3. Stability (definitions) 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.
  4. 4. Stability and Instability •Bad types of monastics •Strong monastics: cenobites
  5. 5. 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 PremodernWayThrough a Hypermodern World
  6. 6. Stability in the Rule •Ch 58.4,9, 17: Promise •Chapter 4:The "location" for using the Tools for GoodWorks. •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"
  7. 7. Sources of Instability
  8. 8. Modern America
  9. 9. LINEAR TIME, HISTORICAL TIME Birth Child Youth Adult Death
  10. 10. Culture of Perfection
  11. 11. Internet: Our second life
  12. 12. ChangeYourself!
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. The results: •Constant feeling of dissatisfaction with life. •Constant anxiety that one should be better •Constant attempt to make the right choice •Constant sense that I should be changing something
  15. 15. How can we find stability in such an upside-down culture? 16 The Whole World in a Crystal Ball by xollob58 at
  16. 16. LEAVING
  17. 17. Distractions
  18. 18. Overwork
  19. 19. Checking out Children watchingTV. FromWolfram Hahn’s exhibit “Disenchanted” d/
  20. 20. Giving up & Quitting
  21. 21. Staying
  22. 22. Community Building in Rule
  23. 23. Turn Aside from the Negatives •Not to grumble or give service to grudgingly •Don’t miss community prayer or events •Avoid comparing what you get with others.
  24. 24. Simple Practices – but not easy! •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.
  25. 25. The importance of "the team"
  26. 26. Stability in the Faith Community •Liturgical Prayer •Worship •Regular time together •Sharing Joy
  27. 27. “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
  28. 28. STAYING
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. Gravitas
  31. 31. 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.
  32. 32. STAYING
  33. 33. Stability: Being WhereYou 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.
  34. 34. The Desert Abbas and Ammas • Fidelity by removing from the source of distractions. • Meditation and focus on scripture and holy writings: nothing else • Well-defined practices so as not to deceive themselves.
  35. 35. “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 Continuing Mindfully
  36. 36. Staying a n d Not Leaving Benedictine Oblates St. Scholastica Monastery 18 May 2014