CUSTOS OCULI: The windows to the kingdom of heaven

I can remember watching the monks at St. Meinrad while they filed in for Conventional Mass on Sunday. They had eyes down in the process in and out of the Archabbey Church and also during the Eucharist.

I asked my classmate, also a monk, why they had eyes down. He said it was to remind them of who they are in the sight of God.

In this Lectio Divina today, I am reminded of how much the custody of the eyes is part of my Lay Cistercian prayer life. We are urged to “listen with the ear of the heart,” but also to keep our wandering eyes in check so that we only focus on Christ in any of our prayers.

Here are fragments of leftover Lectio Divine in seven baskets, just as Christ did when he fed the multitude.

  • Custody of the eyes is the purposeful focus of the mind and heart on Christ by not raising our gaze up to the heavens, but to the earth.
  • Custody of the eyes reminds me that I am dust and into dust, I shall return.
  • Mercy and custody of the eyes are brother and sister.

Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • I try to remember custody of the eyes when I am at Eucharist or in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Custody of the eyes is a habit to be mastered over a lifetime.


%d bloggers like this: