Sunday, November 20, 2016

At the top of the ladder?

Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore, the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God which casts out fear. And all those precepts which formerly he had not observed without fear, he will now begin to keep by reason of that love, without any effort, as though naturally and by habit. No longer will his motive be the fear of hell, but rather the love of Christ, good habit and delight in the virtues which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.
The trouble is that climbing all the steps of humility is incredibly difficult. Humility is about the truth of our human condition and its failure to conform to the sinless life. St Benedict is right that whoso does master all twelve degrees will have that coveted perfect love of God because he will have rooted out all vice and error. This is something that seems only to have been achieved by few.

However, St Benedict sees this ascent as a work in progress. We are on the road to perfection. The destiny of the Church is sainthood for all its members, and none may be excluded from membership save those who exclude themselves. St Benedict offers us a vision of ourselves and of our relationship with God to which we can aspire. We can achieve this, we shall achieve this, but only with God's presence with us.

All the way through these degrees, we have seen the relationship between humility and love. We have seen them perfectly united in Christ's two natures in one human being. He displays perfect humility and perfect love and invites us to the same. Let us always seek the truth about ourselves, and realise that God shows us that we are worth loving even in our darkest moments.

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