“Why do you need teachers?” The visitor asked a disciple.
“Because,” the disciple answered, “if the water is to be heated, it must have a vessel between the fire and itself.” -The Rule of Benedict by Joan Chittister
A few weeks ago, in our Catechism Class, Fr. Robert asked us to pray about and choose a virtue to work on that we felt God was calling us to. I read the list and immediately recognized the one I thought I needed to work on.
I began to pray about it daily, to read about it in scripture but was disappointed when, for some unknown reason, I wasn’t making any progress. I sat in class the next week and listened to some of the others talking about seeing growth and a sense of awareness regarding the virtue they chose. Me…nothing.
So I went home that evening, took out the last week’s lesson and read it again. Ah…there it was. The missing link. I’d put the pony before the cart. Once again, I thought I knew best and what could have been a week of growth turned into a week of me struggling against myself. Into a week of being thrust into the fire with no vessel to protect me.
And so, I set the list before me and studied it. The Colossians List of Virtues: Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Forbearance, Forgiveness, Unity, Love and Peace. I emptied myself of preconceived notions that I had and asked God to forgive me for once more running ahead of Him. And then I asked him to show me what He wanted me to focus on. The answer surprised me at first. But I thanked Him and wrote the word down. I put it where I could see it throughout the day.
Be still and know…
It was amazing how mindful I became of that word. I saw it in our daily Liturgy of the Hours readings. I saw it in the books I was studying. I saw it in our Catechism lessons. I heard it in sermons and songs. Suddenly, the word surrounded me. Hmm…The Word surrounded me.
Be still and know that…
It took a couple of weeks, but gradually I saw a change. Not in others, like I thought needed to happen. But in me. I began to feel it flowing from me naturally; not just a word but an action, almost an involuntary motion. Not that I had perfected the virtue by any stretch of the imagination. But the more aware I became of what God was calling me to do, the more aware of God I became.
Be still and know that I am…
After spending the night in Belleville following Deacon Formation, Jim and I visited St. Clare of Assisi in O’Fallon, Illinois. During Sunday Mass, Fr. Jim Dieter said something that really stuck with me. He said that dying to self always leads to resurrection. What is resurrection?
In John 11, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So, dying to one’s self leads to Jesus. What better example have we than the one that laid aside his crown, became a helpless babe, became a servant to all and gave his life that we might live.
Be still and know that I am God…
In I Kings 19, after Elijah had run for his life for forty days and forty nights, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. After spending the night, the word of the Lord came to him. After telling God why he was running, The Lord told him to stand on the mountain for he was going to pass by.
“And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountain and shattered rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire, came a still, small voice.” (verses 11-12)
By reading the rest of the passage, we know that God was in the still, small voice. With everything around us that demands our attention every minute, of every day, it’s no wonder God’s voice gets lost in the din. It’s only when we are quiet and listen, that a still, small voice can be heard.