The Ultimate Reality Check


Our annual summer silent retreat is underway, and we are going to share it with you.

You can make this retreat at home, if you wish, by reading each reflection and taking time to reflect, journal, sit in silence or walk quietly through a beautiful place.

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

The key to understanding Benedict is understanding the virtue of humility, the third leg of the triad that also includes obedience and silence.

Benedict writes:

Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
which casts out fear.
And all those precepts
which formerly she had not observed without fear,
she will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
without any effort,
as though naturally and by habit.
No longer will her motive be the fear of hell,
but rather the love of Christ,
good habit
and delight in the virtues
which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin. (RB 7)

In some ways, it may be easier to understand what humility IS if we know what it is NOT.

Humility is neither humiliation nor a competition to see who has the lowest sense of self worth.

Humility is about the TRUTH about ourselves.

Humility helps us peel off our masks – the masks we wear to cover up our woundedness – to reveal our true selves.

Our culture is anti-humility, really. Instead, it is devoted to the “Cult of Me,” which is evident in such “self-improvement” projects as cosmetic surgery. But fixing up the outside does nothing for the inside.

When we strip to the foundation God created in us, we awaken the desire to be restored to God’s likeness. When we remove the “encrustations” that have grown about us, we allow the core of who we are – who God is, in us – to shine forth.

And although the monastery was created as a place where we can be who we are meant to be, you can do that in secular community as well.

Humility is the ultimate reality check. It puts us in touch with ourself and the whole world. It rejects entitlement as it awakens the deep realization of who we really are in the presence of God.

Together with obedience and silence, humility calls us to Jesus Christ.

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