Mewsings on the Rule of St. Benedict
Hello there! Glad to be back with you again. I heard that Jane was focusing on a travel theme for this issue. 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).
Anyway, I’m not quite clear what the delight is in straying outside the bounds of home. I like it here. But 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 and Rudy, he’s just ornery. Both of them 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.
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, and staunchly refuse to even consider something different from what has been or from our way.
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.
One of the Benedictine vows or promises is Conversion of Life, what Sr. Scholastica Muffin OSBF (Order of St. Benedict Feline) calls conversatio morum. She says that the goal is purity of heart and the process 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.[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 growth and transformation is the key and 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]
I know I’ve got a long way to go here. Lots of transformation needs to happen before I can let 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.
To my animal friends: I’d really like to hear from you, feline or otherwise. Put your paw here and click.