I had an amazing conversation this week with a high school classmate who is a Benedictine monk. My Lent Bible study had a chapter on asceticism and it occurred to me that as a monk, my friend lived a life totally committed to the cause of Christ in ways that most of us could never understand. In explaining the vows that he took, he talked about poverty. He literally owns nothing. He talked about chastity. He will never know the comfort of a good marriage. He talked about vocation. His is a vocation that involves multiple sessions of prayer, scripture reading, and participating in mass every day. He told me that every day he prays for those who have no one to pray for them, and my heart was deeply touched.
He talked about obedience.
Obedience is the way of life in a monastery. It is the ultimate form of asceticism. Each monk relinquishes total control of body and self to the service of God as directed by the abbot. His entire life is “all in” and there is no room for selfhood.
This beautiful life of sacrifice is summed up in our Psalm today. While I would imagine very few of our readers today are being called to become a monk, I do believe that the “all in” nature of the psalmist’s commitment are worthy of our attention…and obedience.
Psalm 119 (New International Version)
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
Today is a good day to pray “I seek you with all my heart.” This would require some heart surgery, though. What are you holding back? What needs to be cut out? What indulgences are you loathe to let go of in order to truly seek God?
Obviously in order to be obedient we need to become learners and disciples of God’s word. We need to hide it in our hearts. We need to be open to God’s teaching. We need to memorize his laws and understand his statutes.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
God calls all of us to be obedient in reading and doing his word in our lives. Are you willing? I know you’re able. What would you have to rearrange in your daily routine to ensure that you are not neglecting God’s word?
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
Every day that you dedicate these moments to At Water’s Edge in reading, thinking, and responding to scripture is a day spent moving closer to God. Let us continue the journey together so that when we meet God, he commends us as his good, faithful, and obedient servants.