Monday, March 05, 2012

The long haul…

The movement between community and solitariness is woven into the fabric of who we are in Christ. We come individually and make our response to the Word, who invites us to become a new creation and to live in divine intimacy. We nurture our life in Christ as the personal conversation continues and as we gradually learn to do less of the talking and begin to listen. But because our faith commitment joins us to other pilgrims on the way, we are challenged to live the new life together. We become part of that continuing community of God's people who exhibit a willingness to listen to one another.

Elizabeth Canham, Heart Whispers: Benedictine Wisdom for Today

“Lent is a time for turning back if we have wavered, taking the risk of trusting God, and keeping going for the long haul,” as Canon Rosalind Brown writes in this week’s Church Times.

One of the things that moves me most about the Benedictine way of life is their concept of “stability”. Those who know me well will no doubt snigger gently if they read this, since I am, if I want to be especially polite to myself, considerably more Franciscan than Benedictine. Still, I do admire their indefatigable faithfulness, which is most certainly a path of imitatio Christi if ever there was one, and I do recognise how this is reflected in Lent.

This same fidelity is reflected in the many forms of contemplative prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer. Practitioners are counselled not to continually adjust their manners of prayer, but simply to keep on keeping on, faithful to the initial calling and discernment that set them on the path, trusting silently in God for the outcome and destination of their prayer.

Our lives are lived out in community, whether we know it or not. Even if we live the most solitary of lives, far from daily contact with others, still we are members of the great Eucharistic community the Church, the body of Christ, the union of all who are baptised with water and the Spirit, and who share in the Supper of the Lamb.

Faithfulness is our calling, as our Lord was faithful to his. No matter how he was tempted, he lived out his forty days in the wilderness, as he walked the Via Dolorosa on his way to the Cross. One of the meditations that formed part of yesterday’s Stations of the Cross imagined Jesus realising that, weak as he was from shock and loss of blood after being scourged, and exhausted from carrying the cross, he could simply have lain down and died before he ever reached the place of execution; yet he kept going, in faithfulness to his own calling and for the sake of us all.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…

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