Saturday, August 1, 2009

Conquering Self-Will

A reflection on the first Mass reading from Thursday, July 30, (Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

Earlier this week we heard in the reading from Exodus at Mass: “Moses did exactly as the Lord had commanded him.” (Ex 40:16) I was reading something the other night that said that God couldn’t give the Ten Commandments today it would have to be the five suggestions-- because first of all, man wouldn’t listen and secondly if God told him he had to do it, it would be the first thing he wouldn’t do. God would have to make the suggestions for him as if it was the person’s own will and would say “O, that’s exactly what I was thinking!”

Nobody likes to be told what to do. We’ve so softened ourselves today. Self-will has become a god. One of the fruits of self-will is complaining. Self-will, St. Benedict says, must be eradicated. It will lead us totally down the wrong path and obviously not one of obedience. All of it begins with the ego-- fulfilling my desires. And yet we’re supposed to be seeking God and His desires. Do we really want to hear what God has to say? Or are we more willingly to tell God what we think He should be saying—informing Him of what would be the better way to do things?

We can all get caught in this. From ancient days, we’ve had to struggle. We’ve had to struggle with the good and the bad. However, when we desire to do the good more and more it will eventually overcome… if we keep trying, if we persevere. The Rule of St. Benedict gives us the key, the means to accomplish this perseverance—we must prefer God to ourselves.

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