February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
“The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22);
“Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 26:14)!
And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
“For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter” (Ps. 43:22; Rom. 8:36).
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
“But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love” (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
“You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us as silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back” (Ps. 65:10-11).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
“You have set men over our heads” (Ps. 65:12).
Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord’s command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).
What exactly is this 4th degree of humility? What is your reaction to this? When I first started reading the RB every day and first read this selection, I was outraged. Keep silent when others put me down? Not say anything when I’ve been challenged? Worse yet, not to correct someone who has just said or done something wrong? Benedict says “yes, exactly that.” Harrumph and who does this guy think he is telling an American not to stick up for herself. Life sure must have been different in the 6th century!
However, years later, I have a different reaction. For one thing, the nature of humanity is the same then as it is today: we are all sinners and if we are Christians, we are redeemed. The Roman Empire was falling apart; that which had provided order and stability was no longer able to do so. Good grief and gravy, one of the barbarian horde got himself crowned Emperor of the western portion of the Empire during Benedict’s life.
But above all what I am grateful for in this section of the Rule, if I could just keep it in mind, is the simplicity, the peace, the relief from having to defend myself. Just let the other guy have their say. Whatever they say doesn’t change who I really am. Instead of engaging and telling the other person off, I am to go quietly along my way. Sure it’s hard to learn to do that, and i can’t say that I find it any easier with practice. My first reaction is still to leap into the fray. But when I do remember, it really is a load off my shoulders.