The (Benedictine) Feast of Benedict, a Six-month Blogg-iversary, and *NO PRAYING*

21 March 2007

Ugh.  Abbot Little Guy, in his efforts to renew the Liturgy of the Toddler and the reinstitution of the Midnight Office of Wakings, kept me up for about an hour last night, resulting in my oversleeping, and my generally zonked out feeling right now.

Yesterday I got an email from the pastor of MyChurch; he offered to let me continue to serve at the altar and as a banquet bearer, especially since A) MyChurch tends to be short on a worship assistants and B) I won’t get a chance to do these sorts of things in the Episcopal Church.  I’ve accepted tenatively, but something seems . . . wrong.  MyChurch is now and will continue to be my son and wife’s primary church community, not mine.  When I go to MyChurch, I will be serving at the altar probably every six weeks or so.  I will probably attend MyChurch with my family every three weeks or so.  I don’t know.  It seems like a weird arrangment to me.

Turns out my six-month ‘blogg-iversary —the ‘blog equivalent of a half-birthday, falls on the Benedictine feast of St. Benedict.  The Universal Church celebrates the life of Benedict of Nursia on July 11, as do Benedictine communities, but the observance of this feast proper to Benedictines is today, the anniversary of his “glorious departure.”  This is Life! has a much better, more complete post on the feast, published for the Eastern feast of Benedict, which happened last week.

I still can’t find time to pray in the morning; I can’t get up early enough to pray even Lauds or Prime, and I’m too pressed by the concerns of the day to set aside time in the mornings.  The house is too loud, or I’m too harried, and I just can’t find the focus and particular energy that the Office requires.  Maybe I’m just making excuses.

I’m not sure if I’ve suggested this on the ‘blog before, but I have a feeling that this period —the last six months or so— have been a kind of Dark Night for me: spiritual and religious anxieties, coupled with other anxieties, too; difficulties with progress, milestones, and blessings interspersed, but certainly many difficulties.  My spiritual and religious honeymoon is certainly over; when will the via transformativa (to use a term learned from Dorothee Sölle) begin?

Easter?  That seems a little too tidy, even for God . . . .

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6 Responses to “The (Benedictine) Feast of Benedict, a Six-month Blogg-iversary, and *NO PRAYING*”

  1. Scott Says:

    I’m over here resonating with your struggle to pray in the morning. I just can’t wake up enough to pray Matins and Lauds (Monastic Diurnal Revised) before it’s time to go to work. Or even a shorter office. I’m trying to get comfortable with amalgamating offices later in the day. Can’t remember the last time I prayed all of one day’s offices.

    Saying a prayer for you, though, in this time of transition and discernment. Thanks for sharing your journey on your blog (another thing I haven’t been doing). Scott


  2. Scott,

    Thanks for your prayers and comments.

    One thing I’ve done some days is I’ll pray Lauds-Prime in the morning, and then Matins at Midday while my son naps. Granted, this means I’m at home and not required to do something else during this time, so it rarely happens.

    I’ve been trying to get up between 5:00 and 5:30 to get in prayer, breakfast, and maybe a little ‘blogging or reading before my son wakes up. Sometimes he wakes at 6:00 or 6:30, which means that I better wake up at 5:00 or nothing will happen. If he wakes at 7:00, then waking up at 6:00 gives me plenty of time. The problem is that he’s not that consistent with waking times; partly this is due to his on-again, off-again napping, but also with the point he is developmentally: he understands cognitively that, yes, he can get up essentially whenever he wants.

  3. Larry Says:

    Intersting that you would make destinct a Dark night of the soul, with a via transformativa, but not having read Solle (how does one make those dots above the “o” when typing?) there might be a point to said destinction.
    However, I’d say it has already begun, and you wouldn’t be experiencing the struggle if you were not already upon it.
    As for daily prayer. I admire that you attempt the Daily Office withoug living in a community that has that as part of its daily rhythms. I have to admit that I lead and live in such a community and sometimes I (nor any one else for that matter) don’t make it up in the morning for Morning prayer.
    Perhaps a little grace for yourself in this area is needed, but I understand that it is sometimes hard to draw the line between grace for oneself and laxity regarding commitment to a spiritual discipline.
    Lastly, I have to say that it is amazing sometimes how much God does work in and through and with the seasons of the Church year (not always mind you that would be too tidy, but often). Easter has often brought me an internal experience of resurection after long struggle. Be encouraged and I also am keeping you in my prayers.


  4. Sölle (ö=+0246 [type 0, then 2, then 4, then 6 on the keypad all while holding down ] on a Windows machine, or +, then on a Mac) makes a Hegelian dialectic of the via positiva (wonder, amazement), via negativa (letting go), and via transformativa (healing, resisting).

    It’s an imperfect analogy to what I’m going through, but I doubt that she would say that it’s a cut and dry triad.

    My time of wonder and amazement, the honeymoon period, is over; right now I feel somewhat alienated from my church, my practice, and even some parts of my life. Sölle’s via tranformativa is the place of political and social action, but I think it could also be understood as the time when wonder and struggle, happiness and sadness, begin to coexist within a person’s soul again.

    The hardest thing for me is grace for myself. I think that is what God is teaching me right now: “Relax; let go of yourself; live the life before you; you are not the Redeemer. Only I, God, am the Redeemer.”

    Thanks for your prayers Larry.

  5. Larry Says:

    ah, now I understand. Wow, I’d never have created a dialectic (Hegelian or otherwise) of these. Dialectic seems to me to be so wrong headed when it comes to the spiritual life. Has its limits in philosophy as well. 🙂 Talk about something being too tidy.


  6. […] I’ve written about this stuff before.  I think of Dorothee Sölle’s stages of mystical life:   via positiva (wonder, amazement), via negativa (letting go), and via transformativa (healing, resisting).   The via positiva is the honeymoon period, the via negativa is a stage of discomfort where everything is let go of but the essentials: a kind of stripping down.  The via transformativa is where the mystical life is more fully incorporated into the rest of life.  Certainly, things will never be the same, but there is a sense of return and continued struggle, but a less debilitating and desperate struggle than the via negativa. […]

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