For nothing is so consistent in the life of any Christian as overindulgence. -St Benedict, RB 39
Jim and I are in the midst of a “Spring Cleaning.” Only this spring cleaning isn’t reserved for just the attic or closets. We are “cleaning the cobwebs from the corners” of every aspect of our lives. This includes physical, mental and spiritual.
I read the above quote while studying The Rule of St. Benedict this morning, and it really hit home. The dictionary defines overindulgence as the action of having too much of something enjoyable; excessive gratification of a person’s wishes. In this age of “I want it all…and I want it now,” that definition of our society has never rang truer. We mockingly address the millennials as the generation of instant gratification, but I must admit, as a post baby boomer, I enjoy having Amazon deliver to my door whatever I have ordered within two days.
It’s the same with the media. I remember watching 9-11 unfold before my very eyes on the television. There isn’t a movie or song that I can’t access from my phone and I can Facetime with my grandchildren in less time and better quality than a phone call to my own grandparents would have taken.
These things, in and of themselves, are not bad things. But how much it too much? Jim and I made a commitment a while back to turn off our electronics, as much as possible. From the television shows we watched, to the time we spent on social media, we were becoming slaves to the devices that are meant to make our lives easier. Truth be told, other than Jeopardy, most of what we were watching were reruns that we had seen time and time again. And often, one show led to watching more and before we knew it, our evening was gone, and it was bedtime. It was so easy to fall into the rut of having the television on or checking Facebook for the umpteenth time that day, that it became the norm.
Of course, overindulgence runs to all aspects of our lives. The food we eat and the clothes we buy are necessary, but the line between need and want was getting pretty blurry. As Jim put it, “We need to stop eating like we are still teenagers.” But even more than that, we need to eat to nourish our bodies and not feed our desires.
It’s the same in our spiritual lives. It’s so easy to inundate ourselves with Christian activities, other than studying God’s word. Sometimes, by reading smaller sections of the Bible, I can get more out of it than trying to set a goal of a certain amount each day. Something I have found helpful when I study is using Lectio Divina. I find I read smaller segments of scripture, but spend more time in prayer, meditation and contemplation. Usually one word or two sticks out to me and it’s amazing to me how that word(s) finds its way into my life throughout the day.
So, while we continue to “clean the cobwebs from the corners” in our lives, and continue our diaconate and oblate studies, I ask for your continued prayers for Jim and me. As St. Benedict wrote, “…every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.” We fall so short of that perfection. Paul asked why he did the thing he hated and failed to do the thing he knew was right. It’s so easy to become distracted, so each prayer is felt…each prayer is coveted. My daily prayer is “let me become less, that He might become more.”
Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them
with the ear of your heart. -St Benedict, RB