Alleluia is one of the oldest words in the liturgy, used by Jewish and Christian congregations for centuries. St. Benedict took this simple “Praise God” and placed it in a pigeonhole: Alleluia will be repeated and chanted everyday of the year except during Lent. Benedict had a good reason.
Benedictine Spirituality & Addiction Recovery Monastery
INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME
from Mrs. Abel
I am an Oblate of St. Benedict and a recovering alcoholic. My Benedictine home is Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southwestern Indiana.
This monastery is written for the drug and alcohol dependent. You may not be seeking recovery or know anyone who is. But, the spirituality of Benedict, intensified by Sr. Joan, is all-embracing and works in our private chapels and as soon as we stick our necks out the front door. It is a tool for us—workers of the spirit—confronting ruts, habits, and practices; patterns that separate us from God.
I made my Rite of Final Oblation at St. Meinrad. Before the altar I “promised before God and all the saints, as my state in life permits, stability of heart, fidelity to the spirit of the monastic life and obedience to the will of God.” Working to live these promises, I realized with a sudden twenty-pound brass candlestick to the side of my head that Benedict is talking about the God I want to know; the dynamic God living in the center of my self who, by his grace, allows me all the love and freedom I need for myself and more than enough to pass along to the people I reach.
And now a little bit about me. My hair is silver, something like the color of a nickel that has been around the block a few times. My eyeglasses are serviceable and comfortable and do not keep slipping down my nose. I carry a few extra pounds proudly. I can still find jersey dresses. I prefer a simple floral print. I wear a hat to church and gloves on Easter Sunday. My oblate name is Hildegard. I chose this 12th century visionary because she was a composer, poet, and writer; medical herbalist and mystic; did not hesitate to tell pope or emperor where to get off; and described herself as a “feather on the breath of God.”
From time to time I will post a few lines from the Rule and corresponding lines from Monasteries of the Heart and add my two cents worth. I look forward to sharing. Any translation of the Rule is suitable. A good paperback is available from saintmeinrad.edu for $2.95. The Monastery of the Heart and study guide are available from this website.
Your may use a pen name, knowing that your comments will be anonymous, addressed only to St. Benedict, Sr. Joan, and that neighbor down the street or stranger in a shelter or gated community.
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Recovery Is Beautiful
By Ron Beathard
Awhile back a member of our monastery commented, “recovery is beautiful.” I didn’t understand.
For me, recovery has been ten years of do’s and don’ts; strenuous self-examination—every day; admitting my faults in thought, word and deed; and struggling through the lessons of prayer and meditation.
I read The Rule for St. Benedict’s thoughts for recovery. I found none.
Awhile back a member of our monastery commented, "Recovery is a beautiful word." I didn't understand.
For me, recovery has been ten years of do's and don't; strenuous self-examination--everyday; admitting my faults in thought, word, and deed; and struggling through the lessons of prayer and meditation.
I read The Rule for St. Benedict's thoughts on recovery. I didn't find any.
Then the idea came to me, slowly, but it came: Benedict's whole book is a book about recovery. Recovery is the grace of God made visible.
The Raven and the Lady
In 593 St. Benedict’s biographer, Pope Gregory, wrote Dialogues, the only contemporary account of Benedict’s life, released within fifty years of his death. Gregory tells the story of the raven and the lady—a tale of temptation.
One day Benedict was alone in his cave at Subiaco. Here he fasted, prayed for the world, and communed with God. A raven, temptation-black, flew in the saint’s face. He made the sign of the cross and the raven flew away, leaving behind a seed of temptation.
Grace and Self-hatred
Several years ago my priest and I had running, gentle arguments on matters theological. Once, he told me God’s grace was “unconditional.” I replied, “No way.”
My priest started me down a new path. God’s grace is unconditional, given without hesitation to saint and sinner alike. But to make grace grow we have to accept it and use it. Explore how to turn God’s grace into God’s will.
Here are some comments:
By Ron Beathard
Several weeks ago (Sept. 9, 2012) dwalsh1 commented: “My self-hatred knows no bounds, awakening me in the middle of the night”; and Pauline 2: “I, too, wake up in the middle of the night despising who I am.”
Here are a few thoughts and prayers:
Prefer Nothing to the . . .
I have read that labora et ora is the Benedictine motto, but the words do not appear in The Rule. If saints need mottos, I like St. Benedictine’s command in the Prologue: “Prefer nothing whatsoever to the love of Christ.” Perhaps it is a little long and unwieldy, but it says everything we need to know.
Prefer not only Christ the god, but prefer not only Christ the man who tells us and shows us how to get through the day—and, sometimes, very long, long, days.
I know that St. Benedict warns against “coarse jests and idle words or words that move to laughter.” However, I think there are times we need a break and find a little humor in addiction. Here is a little. I found it in my files from an old AA newsletter. Author unknown.
When I became an oblate of St. Benedict, I promised to follow “stability of heart.” I had no idea what it meant. I still don’t, but learning about it has kept me out of mischief. Let’s learn together.