Embracing Change with The Rule of St. Benedict

by Br. Randy OSB-F

A keen observer of human and feline behavior, a faithful follower of The Rule of St. Benedict, and an influential member of the Feline Cloister. In June 2013, Randy succumbed to lymphoma. He is dearly missed. His articles are offered here as his legacy to us. May he, along with our other departed animal friends, enjoy romping in the Paradise Cloister.

Hello there!  Glad to be back with you again.   I just heard that Amma Jane is planning yet another trip.  I questioned her on that, mewing that Benedict encourages us not to leave the enclosure because it’s not good for our souls (RB 66.7).  She nodded absently and explained that she had to run upstairs to start packing for her 10 day trip to Massachusetts!  When she comes home I’m going to paw a note asking her to prostrate herself before all of us so we can offer prayers for her faults at being caught off guard, for seeing something evil or for hearing idle talk while away from home (RB 67.4).

Boarding the Feline Cloister – Challenge and Change

Anyway, I’m not quite clear what the delight is in straying outside the bounds of home.  I like it here.

Br. Target: “I’m a cool cat with change.”

But Br Target tells me that he heard Jane and John talking about boarding us cats in September for a week while they’re both away.  I don’t know what they’re thinking!!  We usually have this REALLY nice woman who comes to feeds us twice a day.  She talks to us, gives us brushes and brings toys and treats, too, and is very Benedictine, e.g., “Distribution was made to each one as they had need” (RB 34.1).  I’d like her for an abbess instead of Jane.

Truth is, I’m worried because several of our members are going to be tough to catch.  Ricky is a feral cat, although he doesn’t like to be called this, and Br Rudy, well, he’s just ornery.  Both of my feline brothers should learn that life would be much simpler for them if they would just let John pick them up and put them gently in a cat carrier.

Digging in the Paws

Well, I guess I sometimes dig in my paws when something is not to my liking, even if it would make life easier and less stressful.  Do you ever do that, resist things that may be different from what you’re used to but that, in the end, could really be better?  Could it be a change of some sort?   I hear that humans aren’t good with change; us felines either.  Or maybe it’s another way of doing things that you don’t agree with.  We encounter things every day that can be opportunities to learn and grow, but instead we dig in our heels, or paws as the case may be.  We staunchly refuse to even consider

Br Randy trying to escape change by hiding in
Feline Cloister tower

something different from what has been or what is different from our way.

St. Benedict Offers Help for Digging in the Paws

∼ Humility

I searched the Rule for some wisdom and found it in the chapter on humility.  Benedict says that we must quietly embrace those things that may be difficult, unfavorable or even unjust and to endure them without seeking escape (RB 7.35-36).  This sounds a tad harsh but it’s a great way to stop stoking the ego and turn instead to God.  Benedict says that through our acceptance of things and our persistence “we overcome because of him who so greatly loved us.”  (RB 7.39 and Romans 8:37)  That’s encouraging – I’m not alone in all this!  I know, too, that when I stop batting my paws at some situation or fellow feline, I often learn something important to help me become a better cat.

∼ Conversion of Life

One of the Benedictine vows or promises in the Benedictine world is Conversion of Life.  Sr. Scholastica Muffin OSBF (Order of St. Benedict Feline) calls the vow conversatio morum.  She says that the goal is purity of heart.  The process for Conversion of Life is transformation, a big word for, I guess, becoming a better and more ardent follower of Jesus.  As you and I live this promise of being open to transformation we become a different person/cat/dog/parrot/garble/horse, etc., etc.[i]  Our attitude is different and our behavior, too.  We can let go of those things that control us and keep us from following God’s will and love, like always being first/right/perfect/comfortable/in control of everything/the only one talking, etc., etc.

Sr. Scholastica says that “the greatest folly of all…is to forget that above us and beyond us…there is a voice that calls us all the time to a change of heart, and to a new beginning…There is in each one of us a divine spark, never totally extinguished, but always in need of rekindling…[we are] made for God.”[ii]

Randy’s Plans to Follow The Rule of St. Benedict

I know I’ve got a long way to go here.  Lots of transformation needs to happen before I can let Sr Charlotte have the chair all to herself without crowding in on her, or before I mew my opinion without listening to Jane’s explanation first, or before I supervise Marcy and Smokey even though it seems that they need it, or before I eat Ricky’s food, or complain about Jane to Mickey.  Since I’m on a roll here, I think Jane needs to stop thinking she can do everything!  What are your transformation challenges?

Nice to be with you and thanks for reading this.


[i] Hi.  I’m trying to expand my vision to all animals.  Randy.

[ii] Sr. Scholastica is quoting Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB, In Praise of Benedict (Petersham, MA: Saint Bede’s Publications, 1981), 47-48.  I’ll suggest this book to Jane for a future book review.

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