Monday, January 17, 2011

A little blog for beginners

The Intro
(What follows is my feeble attempt at introducing this blog.  I wish it were more like the Gettysburg Address or some other Memorable Work to last the ages.  But oh well.)
My friend and sister in Christ, Jan, has been nagging—yes, nagging—me for quite a while to start a blog.  She must have more confidence than I have in my ability to crank out useful (or at least readable) reflections on a regular basis, particularly from my perspective as a Methodist Benedictine, a member of Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery, and one of the multitude of average pew-sitters who try to follow Christ in a world that doesn’t always make that the easiest thing to do.  I’ve usually said that if I were ever to dip a toe into the blogosphere, the site should be called “Kicking and Screaming” — as in that’s the only way I would do it.  Nonetheless, here it is. 
             Starting a blog feels like a bigger deal than it probably is.  There aren’t any qualifications or credentials required.  No standards, no grammatical skills, no humor, wit, wisdom or flimsy raison d’être demanded, either.  My eternal salvation will not hang on its contents…hopefully.  And yet it still feels as if there should be some sort of ribbon cutting or champagne across the bow involved with this launch.  Nothing doing, though.  I will just have to settle for the inestimable relief of finally getting Jan off my back.
My primary hope for this blog is that it will be a space to speak a few words to the sisters and brothers of our monastery about that which we say matters most to us—namely, that we “prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” (RB 72.11)  This format gives more elbow room for nouns, verbs, adjectives and my usual run-on sentences than does Facebook; plus, it will help keep me from cluttering up your email box with “more stuff to read later.”  Consider these postings to be little nudges from one who loves you, saying, “Remember who you are and what you are called.” (RB 2.30a)

Getting Down To It
Today is the Memorial of Saint Antony, desert abba.   A couple of lines from Athanasius’ Life of St. Antony leaned over at Morning Prayer and gave me a little “Pssst!” in the ear:

“Antony felt that this account of the early saints was a divine inspiration and that the words of the Gospel had been directed to him.”
“…he was so attentive at the reading of the Scriptures that he retained everything the writers said, and his memory became his library.”
(Benedictine Daily Prayer, p. 1729)

                We talk a lot in our formation gatherings about the importance of lectio divina—holy reading, sacred pondering, a lively encounter with the Living God.  There isn’t a much better way to sum up its purpose than the example given by Saint Antony.   This kind of prayer goes to the core of what we are about as Benedictines and as believers.  We earnestly desire to hear a word spoken to us, straight to us, to our circumstances, to our abilities, to our needs, to our souls.  Not so that we can be set apart from others as special, but so that we can be truly among others in a way that we are often reluctant to be— in the way of a humble servant, in the Christ-way.
                The two brief lines from our desert father in the faith caused me to stop and think about what volumes reside in my inner scriptorium…and how dusty some of those volumes might be.  They also reminded me that God will speak a word if we prepare the ear of our heart to listen.  
                Take a look at the shelves of your intentional memory.  Are they brimming with texts that inspire? that fill you with hope? that send you running down the path of God's commandments, your heart overflowing with the inexpressible delights of love? (Prol 49)  If not, why not?  As John Wesley once wrote, "Oh begin! ...It is for your life!"  May you be blessed in the holy, happy practice of lectio that is truly divina.
                Grace be with you,


  1. I loved it and revel in your gift to my life on this work-filled, busy day. Yes, I'm still at work, and I stole a couple of moments to read and be comforted that this is not all that I am. Thank you. - Cynthia

  2. I could come and hit you over the head with a champagne bottle if that would help. Or could I just tell you that you are a gift to me, too, and that hearing from you regularly will be a great blessing.

  3. A fine start to the world of the blogger! I wish I had had the presence of mind to nag like Jan!

    How indeed to be set apart enough to be aware of God within us and around us, and in the hearts of those whom we meet, yet not so apart that we leave this good world which God has created? Could this be called the Benedictine Waltz?

  4. Blogging is a new spiritual discipline! I know that this will be edifying to all members of St. Brigid's.

  5. Just attempting to post and tell you what a great idea this is, MARY! Sue

  6. "Kicking and screaming" just adds a bit more color to your vibrant and engaging writing, Mary. Go for it. Your Public demands! The Spirit is blowing and ready to give more. And just think how much your humility will be nurtured----to the point that you might become proud of it. Blessings and thanks for your courage and your reflections.
    A Catholic Benedictine friend