Prodigal Selves

Listen carefully, my child…

– RB, Prologue, 1

It takes a genuine prodigal to be able to harken to this first word of Benedict’s Rule, found in his Prologue, Listen.  This word answered our deepest need when we first read it, the call to return home, to fully die to ourselves, to lay aside any thought of physical gain, or notoriety, or authority.  You know that the rulers of this world lord their authority over one another, but it shall not be this way among you. Instead, the greatest among you must be the slave to others.  (Matthew 20:25-26)  It is our most profound desire to be at home with Christ.  So we respond as Benedict states later, Here I am.  (RB Prologue 18)  Our culture teaches us that in order to do we either simply have to respond mentally to this as a notion, or to carry on using the same business model of our culture, but with good intentions.  But it is not so with Benedict.  He is founding an actual, physical commune where people pray and eat and sleep and work, living and dying as the actual members of Christ, and not as enculturated Christians.  If the first step of returning home is to hear God’s call, then the second step is to do something about it physically, and that means to sell everything and to work tirelessly in order to actually be a slave to others in the commune and those who are preyed upon in society, and to do so in every respect that encompasses our physical lives.  Without hearing the call, and without becoming the slave of another physically, we only maintain our own delusions of authority, no matter how kindly we may try to administer it.

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