Thursday, January 26, 2012
January 26 – Small Beginnings
We have been walking monastically through the cloistered halls of Cor Unum; we have been privy to a few of the sights and wonders that open up to new postulants in abbeys and convents around the world, and today we rejoice to have the Mistress or Master of Postulants come to us to help us initiate our first conversatio. Today we choose a little dying for the sake of new and better living.
If a newcomer happens to be a nail-biter, the discipline set before her might be that she refrain from nibbling on just one fingernail for a season. If the new young monk prospect is apt to let his eyes wander, studying the architecture around the chapel during the Divine Office, he might be asked to keep his eyes on the altar. Little things. Sensible things.
In Cor Unum, our conversatio exercises will always be those that we will do rather than those we think we ought to do, and that is the abbatial advice and instruction for today. Choose wisely. Pray about it. Determine that, for the next two weeks, you won’t read the paper until after you’ve read your Bible. Make sure that for two weeks you watch only three hours of television instead of four. Refrain from biting one fingernail. It's your choice!
We will grow strong together in Cor Unum, one step, one conquest, at a time. There have been, of course, sins we have had to forsake entirely and immediately, and how glad we were that we did! We may face other patterns of sin and unbelief and find that we must forsake them and flee, as Joseph did before Potiphar’s wife. Our conversatio training is a little different. In time, we will find we have buffeted our flesh and begun to walk in freedom previously unknown, but we must not begin with the things we won’t do, the resolutions we have never kept. We outsmart our flesh and weakness, and start where we will not fail.
Choose something SMALL, something TINY if necessary; leave one spoonful of sugar out of your coffee. Then, having chosen, do not turn back from your decision. For the next two weeks, honor your own privilege of choice, and do not fail in it. Do not despise this small beginning . . . it will take you into realms you have longed to know.