Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 8 - The Manners of Meekness

One poignant practice in the traditional Carmelite house is stunning in its meekness. A nun does not serve or "help" herself at any time in the refectory. If her table partner does not observe the need, she must do without. Think what this would accomplish! One might eat and drink more slowly, for when it is gone, it's gone, unless someone refreshes your cup. Even with a most attentive table-mate, one would not want to be the cause of her having to interrupt her meal again and again. One would be very careful and watchful over others, at first reciprocally, perhaps, and at last in the mature joy of service to them.

Now, as time goes by and we add small conversions of life to beautify and strengthen our soul's lodging, how shall we replicate this enforced meekness? Plans and patterns for "meekness" seldom make their way onto our lists of resolutions, but the scope for training in this discipline is broad and long.

We have time. In our first week together in Cor Unum Abbey, we have surveyed the vow of "conversatio," of conversion of manners through attentiveness to the One Who has come in to dine with us. We have seen that in the monastery of our hearts, we are subject to the "perpetual vow," of seeking to abide in Him.

Let us take time to consider the preeminence of the meekness of Christ. Central to the suffering and obedience and power of our Lord Jesus was the Father's heart of compassion and of interest in us. Jesus came to show us the Father. Doesn't the Scripture tell us, " . . . cast your burdens . . . all your anxiety . . . upon the Lord, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7?) Of all the creatures of earth, we can afford to care for others.

The Lord is watching to minister to us in every degree today, to fill our cups to overflowing. In the conversion of manners that we pursue, meekness is the complete Abbess; it strengthens us while it reveals our weaknesses. Let us show our comprehension and gratitude by practical, watchful care over others in this house, which is Christ.

" . . . the greatest among you shall be your servant."
(Matthew 23:11)

Photo by Kerry

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