For a while now, I've made it a practice of studying the Rule of St. Benedict each day. When I first began my discernment journey, I was praying about and investigating a monastic vocation, and for about a year and a half I studied the Rule this way, and found it very rewarding. The journey today, of course, is in discernment and formation toward diocesan priesthood. But I've come to realize that there is still something within that is attracted to, formed by, and desires to conform to Benedictine spirituality. With my Vocation Director's permission, I was received as an Oblate Novice of St. Meinrad where I study for the priesthood. Oblates are those who strive to apply Benedictine spirituality to wherever they are called in life. There are men and women, young and old, married, priests, all walks of life represented among the Oblate community. (You can read more about the Benedictine Oblates of St. Meinrad at this website: http://www.saintmeinrad.edu/monastery_oblates.aspx.
Anyway, this morning as I was reading and reflecting on the Rule I got hit right smack dab between the eyes. (That's a good thing, by the way. Not always comfortable. I don't always enjoy it. But how can we grow without the occasional BAM right between the eyes?) In Chapter 20 of the Rule, Saint Benedict instructs his monks this way: "We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words."
I hope you won't be scandalized if I share a "secret" with you: I'm not perfect in the pure of heart category. And there are many days that my "words" may seem much more pure than my heart can match. I suppose in some respects that's a reflection of the human condition. And one of my important goals is to learn to live for and seek a heart that is devoted to God and by His grace acceptable to the vocation of the priesthood. But wow do I have a long way to go. And my sense is that I will always have a long way to go. We are, after all, humans. We are, after all, sinners.
This morning, I am reminded that it is only by God's grace that I can even attempt to utter the right words in His praise and service, and that any purity of heart I've attained is His doing alone through grace. I'm reminded that I am broken, and made whole by His love and care. I'm reminded that I lack perfection, which is no excuse not to strive for it, but rather it is an invitation to humility in the face of Him who leads me.
I may have shared here before (I don't remember) words of challenge and comfort shared with me by a priest at the Cathedral that is my home parish, Fr. Frank: God doesn't call those to the priesthood who are qualified, He qualifies those He calls. Thank God.