It is probably not the most glamorous or notable example from Scripture, but one that I think about a lot. It is about duplicity, Duplicity is saying one thing but thinking or doing something quite different. It is speaking with a forked tongue (referenced by the snake). It is being a fox in sheep’s skin. It is lying to one another as the rule and not the occasional inconvenience.

St. Benedict bids us, in Chapter 4, to “guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech” and again “Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace, or turn away when someone needs your love. Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.” 

One way I look at Chapter 4, although unorthodox, is to see these admonitions as effects of Original Sin, effects which I want to either put in my life or struggle to banish. I learned that lying was “locutio contra mentem”, saying one thing with with your lips and quite another with your mind and heart. 

As a Lay Cistercian, one of my struggles is conversion of life from the falsehood and empty promises of the World to the truth that comes from being one with God, as much as possible on this earth.  

One of the prayer practices I do every day is to pick up Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict and read it. I don’t try to go deeper or ponder the words. I just read them every day. You have heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” I think “You are what you read,” especially if what you read is the transforming “Word Made Flesh” dwelling among us.  

Try it.  

Praise be to God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology


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