By the time I enrolled as a freshman at Benedictine College in the fall of 1983 I had already spent week-long retreats at three Benedictine Abbeys: St. Martin’s Abbey in Washington state; here in Atchison, Kan., at St. Benedict’s Abbey; and at Conception Abbey in Missouri. I loved Christ and had a desire to follow him more closely.
One of the aspects that drew me to the monastic life was stability. It is one of the three vows that Benedictines profess, along with Obedience and Conversatio Morum. Stability is not simply a negative: “never leave the monastery.” Rather it is positive, because it allows us to become like the tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:4). Of course the stream that we are planted by holds the waters of Baptism, and the fruit of the tree is our life in Christ. St. Benedict wanted us to be stable, to be rooted in one place, so that we can allow the roots to go deep, and bear much fruit.
I would like to propose for your reflection seven ways to help you root your life in Christ. I encourage you to read each slowly, then take a moment to consider it.
Fall in Love with Jesus
He is not just one among many, he is the way, the truth, and the life. Mary and the Saints help us to love Christ, and Christ leads us to the Father (John 17).
Take time for Silence
Again this silence is not negative, or the silent treatment, but it is filled with the presence and awareness of a loving God who loves me to the core of my being
When faced with your ordinary routine, enter into it in an extraordinary way. Being stable allows us to do our daily tasks with a great love, and without an eye on getting the next promotion or moving on. Here and now I am merely an instrument of the Holy Spirit, and this is freeing.
Do deeds of Mercy
St. Faustina received the teaching from Jesus to do an act of mercy every day in thought, word or deed in the name of Jesus. If every believer did this, the world would shine with Divine Mercy. Helping the poor, the ill, the stranger, the hungry, the thirsty, the prisoner, the naked all for Jesus allows us to bear fruit.
Take time to be involved with your parish or community. Christ did not hand out books to random people and tell them to read them and feel good. Rather he himself, who is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), wants to encounter us, to invite us to follow him, to enter into Communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Love those around you
G.K. Chesterton said that our Lord wants us to love our enemies and our neighbors because they are usually the same people. Being stable allows me to get to know the people around me, and to see Christ in them. They can also help me to grow in humility by helping me face my own need for growth.
Trust in Jesus
It is easy to think of Christ just in formalistic terms. But really coming to trust him as a friend allows us to be stable.
I received the habit 32 years ago this July 10, and began my life as a monk. I am so grateful to Christ for having given me this vocation. While I may leave the Abbey often to help with parishes or give retreats, I know that this is my home. It is here where I have planted my life by the stream of living water, which is Christ’s mercy flowing out for me.
Editor’s note: Fr. Meinrad Miller has been a Benedictine monk since 1986. He currently serves the community as Schola Master, and works as an Instructor of Theology at Benedictine College.