The Rule of Benedict--An Introduction--Week 3

Week Three--Stability

In every context we might practice alertness in one way or another, in the faithfulness the moment demands of us: in a telephone conversation, in your work as a maintenance mechanic of a Boeing 747 of El Al, and the preparation of a meal for your family, in your participation in a meeting of the group council, in your contact with a colleague during a reception, while repairing a leaking bicycle tire. In all of these things, the rule applies: things prosper when we pay attention to them-- and we ourselves prosper at the same time.~~Will Derske, The Rule of Benedict for Beginners

The vow of stability affirms sameness, a willingness to attend to the present moment, to the reality of this place, these people, as God's gift to me and the setting where I live out my discipleship. We are discouraged from fantasizing some ideal situation in which we will finally be able to pray and live as we should. Instead Benedict says, "Be here; find Christ and the restless teenager, demanding parent, insensitive employer, dull preacher, lukewarm congregation."~~Elizabeth Canham

1. Joan Chittister refers to stability as a "revelation of the many faces of God." What do you think she means by this?

2. What is it that often demands your attention when you are doing something else?

3. Do you see any connection between vulnerability, attention to the present moment, and beginning again?


Noreen Vest, writing in Preferring Christ: A Devotional Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, says the following about stability:

"Recently I have become aware what a demanding spiritual discipline is this simple practice of attention to the present moment! At times of stress, I find myself enmeshed in a complex pattern of self denunciation, guilt, frustration, and weariness, which effectively blocks me from being aware of what is actually going on. Basic simplicity of the heart, rooted in the truth about what really is, turns out to be the disposition of profound spiritual maturity. I find myself having to begin over and over, needing to start yet again as a novice, in humility. Yet, oddly, there's often a greater gentleness and self-care in such simplicity that there is in complex psychological assessment. Both are needed, of course, but how liberating it is to be able to imagine and hope for the possibility of simplicity as the truest reality of my being!"

Reflect on this during the week, and try to take note of the times you are able to bring yourself back to the present moment in the midst of all that is around you at any given time.