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Center for Action and Contemplation

Wisdom: Weekly Summary

Saturday, February 27, 2021


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Week Eight Summary and Practice

Sunday, February 21—Friday, February 26, 2021

Jesus teaches his disciples through his lifestyle, a kind of “seminary of life.”

What Jesus experiences in his consciousness, we are to experience in ours. We are to enter into his very heart, the center of his being. —Beatrice Bruteau

All in all, the Rule of Benedict is designed for ordinary people who live ordinary
lives. . . . It was written to provide a model of spiritual development for the average person who intends to live life beyond the superficial or the uncaring
. —Joan Chittister

Wisdom is clearly more than mere intelligence, knowledge of facts, or information. Wisdom is more synthesis than analysis, more paradoxical than linear, more a dance than a march.

When Jesus of Nazareth prefaced his enigmatic sayings with the words, “let those with eyes to see, see, let those with ears to hear, hear,” scholars tell us he was speaking as a teacher of Jewish wisdom, appealing not just to the head but to the whole person of his listener: heart, body, mind, senses, imagination. —Christopher Pramuk

Wise fools are always formed in the testing ground of exile when the customary and familiar are taken away and they must go deeper and much higher for wisdom.


Creating a Rule of Life

In this week’s meditations on Wisdom, we mentioned the power of the monastic way of life. Few contemporary writers speak about modern monasticism with as much depth and clarity as spiritual teacher Beverly Lanzetta. She notes that an important aspect of any monastic community is a rule of life, or code of conduct.  In her recent book, A New Silence, Lanzetta explores ways in which the everyday contemplative practitioner can deepen their commitment to love of the Divine. She writes:

Over the years, I have composed and followed a personal rule of life. I include below excerpts from the original and longer rule, which you may find helpful in writing and living your own code of conduct.

1. Be faithful to the Divine in all that you do. Put the Divine will before your own. Ask, “What would God do?” and wait for the answer. Do not allow personal attraction or gain to cloud decision-making, or your soul’s intentions to be compromised.

2. Be simple of purpose. The basis of simplicity is centering on God. The heart of the monastic life is to live in God’s presence.

3. Love all of creation with Divine compassion. Total commitment brings change. Give to life your unparalleled commitment, and complete love, one that is without self-interest.

4. Offer yourself as a place of prayer. May your presence be one that heals divisions and expands hearts.

5. Be attuned to the splendor of creation, and the gentle web of existence. Celebrate embodiment. Actively work—both within yourself and in the world—to make the holy manifest.

6. Refrain from possession. Remember the transient nature of earthly life. Possession can occur on all levels: physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual. Love expands the spirit, possession contracts it.

7. Pray daily to grow in humility, and to be empty of the false self. Offer over to the Divine your regrets, sorrows, doubts, motives, and unresolved desires.

8. In all you do, practice nonharm. Make a small footprint, tread lightly, become aware of the impact your actions have on others. The refusal to reflect on your motives leads to suffering (for others and also one’s self).

9. Treat all religions and spiritual paths with honor and respect. Enter silence. Keep faith alive.

10. Create community wherever you are. Make of your heart a home for the homeless, a refuge for the poor. Pray for the well-being of your monastic sisters and brothers.

I invite you to spend some time this week contemplating the rhythm of your own life. Without judgment, reflect on how you spend your time, what you pay attention to, and where your energy goes. Does the rhythm of your life honor the relationships and values that are most important to you? Is there some degree of balance between work and rest, solitude and community? Be open to the movement of the Spirit. How might God be inviting you into greater freedom, integrity, and love through the rhythm of your daily life?

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Beverly Lanzetta, A New Silence: Spiritual Practices and Formation for the Monk Within (Blue Sapphire Books: 2020), 286‒287.

Image credit: Mark Kauffman, Howard Thurman (detail), photograph, copyright, used with permission.
Image inspiration: Pictured here are the hands of the Howard Thurman, revered theologian and inspiration for civil rights in the 20th century. We see a profound gentleness in the way Thurman holds his glasses; the same timeless and human gentleness that permeates his writings and teachings. 
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