Chapter 4 – The Tools of Good Works
1. In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.
2. Then, one’s neighbor as oneself.
3. Then not to murder.
4. Not to commit adultery.
5. Not to steal.
6. Not to covet.
7. Not to bear false witness.
8. To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
9. And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to become attached to pleasures.
13. To love fasting.
14. To relieve the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To help in trouble.
19. To console the sorrowing.
20. To become a stranger to the world’s ways.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.22. Not to give way to anger.
23. Not to nurse a grudge.
24. Not to entertain deceit in one’s heart.
25. Not to give a false peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to return evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
31. To love one’s enemies.
32. Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
33. To bear persecution for justice’s sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not addicted to wine.
36. Not a great eater.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not lazy.
39. Not a grumbler.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one’s hope in God.
42. To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
43. But to recognize always that the evil is one’s own doing, and to impute it to oneself.44. To fear the Day of Judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
47. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
48. To keep constant guard over the actions of one’s life.
49. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
50. When evil thoughts come into one’s heart, to dash them against Christ immediately.
51. And to manifest them to one’s spiritual guardian.
52. To guard one’s tongue against evil and depraved speech.
53. Not to love much talking.
54. Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
55. Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
56. To listen willingly to holy reading.
57. To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
58. Daily in one’s prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one’s past sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
59. Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh; to hate one’s own will.
60. To obey in all things the commands of the Abbot even though he (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the Lord’s precept, “Do what they say, but not what they do.”
61. Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be holy, that one may be truly so called. 62. To fulfill God’s commandments daily in one’s deeds. 63. To love chastity. 64. To hate no one. 65. Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy. 66. Not to love contention. 67. To beware of haughtiness. 68. And to respect the seniors. 69. To love the juniors. 70. To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ. 71. To make peace with one’s adversary before the sun sets. (Emphasis mine) 72. And never to despair of God’s mercy.
These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft. If we employ them unceasingly day and night, and return them on the Day of Judgment, our compensation from the Lord will be that wage He has promised: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).Now the workshop in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community.
This reminds me of another phrase, “Don’t let the Sun go down on your anger.” Anger is one of those human emotions that can kill us. It can certainly lead us to kill someone else, as in Genesis when Cain killed Abel.
QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ASKED
As a Lay Cistercian trying to move from my false self (seven deadly sins) to my true self (seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit), it takes an act of free will to substitute bad for you with something good for you. It takes God’s own energy (grace) to help you make all things new.
The Sacrament of Penance is one way to not only get rid of those evil thoughts and replace them with God’s own love. Penance means we have a horror of sin and ask God to be merciful to us as we show mercy to others.
The Sacrament of Penance is the best way to seek forgiveness of our sins. Jesus instituted this public prayer of the Church Universal as a means to receive the grace of reconciliation and to make all things new in our hearts. Another way is that we proclaim our need for repentance at the beginning of each Eucharist, Finally, in prayer, we can petition the Father to have mercy on us.
If you want peace in your heart, you must ask for it, realizing that God gives you the peace not you. At the Eucharist, we receive two great gifts each time the Church Universal meets: The actual Body of Christ, and the Peace of Christ. There are seven gifts from Christ to help the Church Universal (and you) to move from self to God. Can you name them?
Read what Scriptures tell us about transforming hatred and anger into love and blessings. During this Lenten season, seek to transform yourself from your false self to your new self (making all things new in Christ). Chapter 4 (above) of the Rule of St. Benedict gives us behaviors that we should be moving towards and some things we should be moving away from. I recommend that you begin any conversion of heart by reading Chapter 4 every day and praying that you become what you read.
Matthew 5 NRSVCE – Concerning Anger21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[i] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[j] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[k] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITY — Read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict (above) each and every day (at least a part of it). Get into the habit of prayer. Pray only that you become what you read. Be silence in your solitude and listen with the “ear of the heart,” as st. Benedict tells us in his Prologue to the Rule.