Monasteries of the Heart

Community as Body of Christ

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Trust Him when dark doubts assail you,
Trust Him when your strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.

Trust Him, He is ever faithful;
Trust Him for His will is best,
Trust Him, for the Heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.

Trust Him, then, through doubts and sunshine;
All your cares upon Him cast,
Till the storm of life is over,
And your trusting days are past.

Lectio Divino: Ephesians 4:15-16

Speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in every way into Christ,
from whom the whole body,
joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,
when each part is working properly makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

From Esther de Waal's Seeking God - Chapter VIII - People

"The Rule starts from human nature as it is and not from any false idealism. The Rule is devised for people, the community exists for the sake of the individual, and not vice versa. The outcome of this is that the Rule shows respect for each single person whoever they may be, irrespective of class, background, professional skill. This totally cuts through sham that any one person is superior to any other or could have more value than another.

It is just because we are accepted by Christ that we can accept others and accept ourselves. Self-love is important, fundamentally important. The novice begins with the process of stripping himself, or letting himself be stripped of the empirical self, so that the real self may emerge in the common life of the community, which is the school of love.

In this school of love three dimensions of love grow together: love of self; love of the brethern; love of God. To know myself without any complacency and without any self-justification means really loving myself, knowing myself as I really am. Only after that honesty, standing naked before the God who loves, accepts and does not judge, can I turn and present that same image, stripped of all false colors, to all the other people in my life.

If stability means that I do not run away from myself it will also help me to see others as they really are and allow them to be their authentic selves rather than the selves I might prefer. The practice of obedience means that I lay aside idols, and empty myself at my centre, so that I can reach out to others. And above all openness to growth means that I bring some dynamic quality of love into relationships, so that I am ready to change, to renew the pattern of marriage, to encourage my children to grow into freedom, to work at a friendship to prevent it fossilizing at some past stage of my life.

Unless I am careful I am tempted to manipulate the people in my life. I find that I batter them with my demands, or force my own expectations upon them or so influence them that they feel bound to act in a way that they know will please me. I have in fact failed to accept them as they really are. I have not been content simply to be alongside them in their littleness and their weakness, their frustration and their depression. Perhaps I have tried to improve them or organize them for their own good. Perhaps I have really been much more concerned with where I am myself than with seeing where they are, and revealing their importance, to themselves and to me. This asks of me restraint and sensitivity, a restraint that is comparable to chastity taken in its widest sense of meaning the refusal to use another person as an instrument for my own pleasure or self-gratification.

I need to love and to accept love in return. This is as true for those who are married and who need to keep up friendships outside of marriage as it is for those who are single. Love, trust, acceptance - these are things that I receive from Christ, and it is only as I come to know and to love Christ and to realize that I am known and loved, that I can also love my fellows. My primary relationship is with Christ: it is through him that I forge my link with others, and that gradually I grow towards maturity in loving, in the giving and receiving of love."

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