Good order

Daily Reading for February 8

Small, inconspicuous signs of love are important in all those places where people live in close proximity with each other and depend on each other. Huerre calls [the 32nd chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict, on the tools of the monastery] a “chapter of good mood” because concrete elements such as order, cleanliness, and attentiveness contribute much to a cheerful atmosphere. Rough and inconsiderate treatment shows disregard for people as well as for things. The way we treat objects is a criterion of our spirituality. If we come into a community where things are generally neglected, we may question the spiritual depth of the community. Anselm Grün says: “The way of treading things is normally a test for a person’s inner attitude,” for in the way “in which someone treats things, he treats himself.” Conservation of creation is not only a duty of the individual but also of the entire community, and in this a climate of treating objects reverently and even small rules can help. . . .

This chapter is of great current interest because we are much more aware today that our environment is subjected to great dangers and how necessary the conservation of our creation has become. We know that overexploitation has continued over a long time and that neglect of things, even on a small scale, does add to the destruction of our cosmos. Joan Chittister says: “Benedictine spirituality is as much about good order, wise management, and housecleaning as it is about the meditative and immaterial dimensions of life. Benedictine spirituality sees the care of the earth and the integration of prayer and work, body and soul, as essential parts of the journey to wholeness that answers the emptiness in each of us.”

From Around the Monastic Table—RB31-42: Growing in Mutual Service and Love by Aquinata Böckmann (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2009).

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