The Eighth Step of Humility -- Don't Pray Your Way?
|"Why can't I have things my way?"|
The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and by the example set by his superiors.The Rule of St. Benedict.
As Benedictine oblates, are are obligated to read from the rule every day, and think about how to apply it to our "life outside the walls."
It was more than likely that the other, or additional, devotions monks would practice were good ones, of course. So why would St. Benedict ban them? And what does that have to do with humility?
There is a story about an oblate director who had an oblate who insisted on praying the rosary instead of the Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office). He did not question the merit of the rosary, but gently pointed out that the modest rule for oblates required morning and evening prayer (Lauds and Vespers). Besides, one of the promises an oblate takes is "obedience." As an oblate, not a monk, she was welcome to say the rosary, too, but really needed to pray the Hours. After all, that was what St. Benedict called the opus dei -- the Work of God.
The director know what a wonderful and unique prayer the rosary is. The oblate nonetheless told him all about it, as if he did not. She was missing the point. In the end, the director left her to her own devices, and we may hope that the benefits she derived from her refusal to say the Divine Office outweighed the habit of pride and disobedience she had established.
The Bear wonders if there is not a benefit to putting our heads down (like St. Corbinian's Bear when he is wearing the pack saddle) and doing what the Church would have us do. The typical liturgy may not be as technically "correct," or symbolically rich, or beautiful. Yet, is there a risk -- being sinful humans -- of feeding the twin devils of Pride and Disobedience if we insist on having it according to some fashion other than the plain ol' Mass? Can we be 100% sure that it is not because "this is what I like" to some degree? Can we honestly hear the SSPX decry it as "an outrage to God," and tell us to stay home and say a rosary instead without the slightest twinge of wonder about that sort of mind-set?
The liturgy in the Bear's parish is simple and reverent. It was quite a shock, though, coming from the Orthodox Church. We got used to the piano behind the altar and the choir up front. It took some time, and isn't how the Bear would do things. But, except for the old folks loudly babbling before Mass (which is ultimately the Bear's problem) it works fine. The element of the "meal" is better presented, too, while still retaining the sacrifice, although not as clearly as in older liturgies. There has never been a clown mass, and the Bear doubts there ever will be, in his parish and the vast majority of parishes in this country.
As the Bear said, it is not how he would do things. But, for better or worse, nothing is. His parish Mass is where he receives Our Lord. If the trappings do not suit him, perhaps he will gain greater merits by exercising humility and obedience by doing what is endorsed by the common rule of his [Church] and the example set by his superiors.