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Fr. Mauritius Wilde

Be Yourself! The Call of a Christian

Evangelization used to be a scary word to me. I thought it meant that I must convince another of what to believe in or, on the other hand, that I, held captive, would be the recipient of a sales pitch about another’s faith. Both situations make me extremely uncomfortable.

I have come to feel differently about this intimidating word, “evangelization”, through the insight of Fr. Mauritius Wilde, OSBshared in spiritual direction and guided retreats on the topic.  He captures those thoughts in his newest book, Be Yourself! The Call of a Christian. He writes, “Faith is about what I believe, who I am in my innermost heart…It isn’t good to constantly hold back what is in our hearts. If your heart is full, let it overflow!” What evangelization really means is “to get the word out…to share your joy.” 

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Sharing one’s faith is simply being our truest self. How and why we share our faith makes all the difference. The best place to start in evangelization is exactly right where we are—both emotionally and experientially. It should not be to change another’s opinion, belief, or understanding, but instead, Wilde posits, If we show our faith, we do it only to ease, enable, prompt, and prepare the communication between God and the other person.”

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It’s quite okay to feel that the task of sharing our faith is just “too big”. Wilde writes, “A slight insecurity about what I have to say in “holy” matters is good because it opens me up to the living God who sends us. It saves us from self-serving justice, false self-certainty, arrogance, and a dangerous over-identification with the religious.”

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Indeed, who am I to know what or how another should believe, to know that I am indeed right in my own belief, or that I can even find the appropriate words to express my faith? And, as a life-long questioner, being the recipient of another’s evangelization causes me to become defensive, to take a “devil’s advocate” position, and to engage in the war of words that rarely brings peace and, likely, has never changed a mind or heart. Ultimately, God does the work, we plant the seed.

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What a relief it is to not be responsible for changing another—to understand that it is not even desirable. Growing up in the Catholic Church, I was taught my religion was the “one, true faith” and, later, in a brief experience with fundamentalism, the imminent rapture was the approach used to share the Gospel, to convince others that they should accept Jesus as their “personal Lord and Savior” in order not be “left behind.” Neither of these experiences fit the faith I have grown into. Feeling judged, wrong, inadequate or afraid does not bring love into another’s life.

Being open to hearing who God is to another brings an appreciation of diversity.  Just when we think we know for certain who God is, we presume to know God’s desires for others or that God is for us and not for others, or that I am better than another who seems less religious or spiritual.  Wilde shares that even monks can offer diverse viewpoints, “The different voices reflect different perspectives on faith, they give listeners the freedom to choose, and they show something of God’s variety and richness, which can be expressed in so many ways.”

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What a comfort (and not in a lazy, everything-goes kind of way) to hear that God is open to diverse ways of seeing and expressing our faith. It is important to try to see another viewpoint and to challenge our own beliefs. We do not betray our religious, political, and cultural beliefs or opinions by challenging our own assumptions. Quite the opposite, being absolutely certain about something is probably the biggest sign of ignorance and self-righteousness.

“So how can we find the right, fitting, respectful language with which to express something of our faith?”  Wilde continues, If we open up and show ourselves to others in faith, we should do it only in such a way that they later feel themselves more loved and accepted, more regarded and respected, a little more whole, joyful and satisfied.”

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It is not our job to convince someone of believing just this or that—our faith is shared only to bring peace and perspective. Love is meant to be shared. “Love wants to express itself…God doesn’t want to keep his divinity to himself. He wants to share it. He is ultimately inclusive, one might say that he wants all to have life, divine life, in abundance,” Wilde writes.  If sharing one’s faith is not done in love, it is not from God. Perhaps this could be said for anything we share.

I am forever grateful for the years of insight shared by Fr. Mauritius–through a variety of retreats, podcasts on the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, spiritual direction, and most recently his first book in English, Be Yourself! The Call of A Christian, which I highly recommend.

Join Fr. Mauritius Wilde, OSB for a book sharing at St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, Nebraska, Sunday, June 9, 2019.  For more info, see website.

Additional resources:
In place of self-righteousness…seeking God” – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde OSB
“The Monk, the Missionary Spirit and Evangelization” – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde OSB
Wilde Monk, Cherishing Christ Above All, a blog by Fr. Mauritius Wilde OSB

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Trust: Justice Breaks Forth Like the Light

Deep prayer, or contemplation, requires a commitment. Prayer can happen anytime, anywhere, in an instant, but deep prayer requires attention and intention to create pockets of silence in our day to listen to what the Divine is revealing. God speaks always and in diverse ways, but it is our own awareness that must be cultivated.

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The practice of Lectio and Visio Divina, sacred reading and seeing, is a prayer practice that helps me slow down, to be quiet, to become aware and to listen. The value of Lectio Divina is that our understanding of Scripture or other spiritual writing is influenced by what is happening in our life. The richness of what we read can breathe new life into us and bring new thoughts for us to consider again and again.

Recently Fr. Mauritius Wilde wrote about how God broke into daily reading with words that he has likely repeated thousands of time through the years. But one day, these words “I put my trust in you” (Psalm 55:24) resonated with him differently. He shares in a blog post titled, I Put My Trust in You, “In God we trust, I trust in God… how quickly are we ready to say that? Do we really mean it? To be honest, sometimes trust comes naturally to me, but other times, however, I have difficulty trusting. There are often good reasons not to trust–bad experiences, hurts of the past, knowledge of things and people, realism.”

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Psalm 55 settled upon Fr. Mauritius, inspiring more reflection. This is the way that God works. “We can sit with a sacred text in the dark fields of the mind, and suddenly by grace, we have a moment of illumination.” (Lectio Divina—The Sacred Art, Christine Valters Painter, Ph.D.) The beauty of reading sacred texts, either anew or upon reexamination, and following a Lectio Divina practice, create the space to savor words that begin to settle in, taking form and shape in our heart.

Wilde shares, “Sometimes I find myself weak in trusting God. It is not because of God, it is because I trust rather myself, even more–my own intelligence, my experience, the things that give me security. Only when those things are taken away from me, do I realize what trusting God really means.”  

This idea of trusting God rested “in the dark fields” of my mind for several days. I wondered about how much I trust God. I have my ideas and my opinions about how situations should play out and how people should behave or believe. When I feel that I am not in control, my go-to emotion is anger. But it wasn’t until praying the Divine Office that I read Psalm 37, and the words “Calm your anger and forget your rage” led to “a moment of illumination.” To go deeper with this relationship between anger and trust, I began to practice creative Lectio Divina—reading the text while also drawing, writing, and coloring—letting the words sink in deeper.

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I recognized what NOT trusting God actually looks and feels like—full of fret, anger, rage which according to this Psalm, leads to evil. And I wondered, why do I not trust? I read slowly, feeling the shimmer of these words—Surrender to God. Do not fret because of the wicked. Commit your life to the Lord. Trust in him and he will act so that your justice breaks forth like the Light. Be Still. Calm your anger and forget your rage. The patient, the humble, shall inherit the land and enjoy the fullness of peace.

It becomes clear to me, that this listening with the ear of the heart, as St. Benedict instructs, leads one to see in a new light. What may feel like justified anger, an emotional response to not being in control, is actually not trusting God. Trusting God means that our personal agenda­ must be set aside for the promise that God is working in and around all that works for (or against) light, love, patience, humility, and peace.

Justice will indeed “break forth like the light.” God will make all things fair and right. My job is to surrender, to let go of anger, to be patient, humble, and loving— to trust. Anger and peace cannot coexist; trust alone leads to peace. 

Read Fr. Mauritius’ blog post in its entirety HERE.

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Transitus of St. Benedict: Happy Feast Day!

Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!

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On March 21, Benedictines around the world celebrate the “transitus of St. Benedict, the day Benedict entered eternity. “Transitus” in Latin means passing from one state to the next—death is not the end of life, but the transition into eternity with God.  It is one of two days that St. Benedict is recognized on the Benedictine calendar.

Since this feast day is always during Lent, another commemoration date was set when Pope Paul VI declared St. Benedict the Patron of Europe at the rededication of the Church at Monte Cassino on July 11, 1964. July 11 is the Feast of St. Benedict for the Universal Church. Only Mary, the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist are remembered with both their birthdays and their day of entry into heaven.

St. Gregory the Great writes about St. Benedict’s last days:

“Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately, he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.” (St. Gregory the Great, Book Two of Dialogues, chapter 37).

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Montecassino Abbey, the statue depicts the passing of St. Benedict

 

Feedback is always welcome if there are topics, resources, inspiration or information you would like to see at BeingBenedictine.  For more information and inspiration on St. Benedict and his Rule, here are a few resources–

Podcasts and blog about the Rule St. Benedict and Benedictine spirituality by Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of St. Anselmo’s in Rome.

St. Benedict Center blog includes newsletters from Fr. Thomas including information about upcoming retreats, building needs, news from the monastery and inspiration for your daily life.

The Benedictine Mission House includes updates about missions around the world and other monastery information from Brother Tobias.

Being Benedictine on Facebook.

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life” Rule of St. Benedict, 72:11.

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In Praise of Words and Less Words

Sometimes I just don’t know when to shut up. Words, words, and more words.

I love words—to write them and to read them. I have been considering how I use words after reading The Power of Words by Joe Kay at Living Gracefully. It ­shined a light on the word wars often waged in my head, in conversation, in writing—either on social media or my personal journaling.

In some ways, I give words too much power. I think if I keep talking I might find just the right words to communicate my point better. Maybe my words weren’t effective, or they weren’t heard the way I intended, or my words were rejected—so I try again with more words, thinking “this time” I will be understood or be able to help another understand. Maybe “this time” we will come to an agreement or reach a hoped-for reconciliation.

But words do have power, Kay writes “Martin Luther King, Jr., understood the power of words. He spoke so beautifully and prophetically about his dream of a world in which everyone is treated as an equally beloved child of God.

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Words have the power to inspire us, touch us, and transform us for better or worse, depending upon which words we choose to allow inside of us. They can bring us more peace, love and justice, or they can increase our levels of division, fear and hatred. In the last few months, we’ve been reminded how easy it is to get sucked into the pool of hateful words. Continue reading “In Praise of Words and Less Words”

Sobriety: The Nature of our Need

Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, has a new podcast series on the Benedictine understanding of sobriety.

Can you get caught up in the swirl and chaos of fear, violence, and anger assaulting our world today? Practicing soberness means being detached from emotions, both overly negative or positive feelings. It is not good to be “drunk” on either extreme.

Soberness is taking just what we need. What do I take with me? What do I take in? What do I consume? How much wine, money, noise, whatever? Is it too much? The journey of soberness is to become more aware of whether there was too much.

But soberness is more than an absence of something—there is its own positive quality. The absence of the noise of tv is more than just turning off the tv. We begin to discover how beautiful silence is. Once you taste it, you want to have more of it.

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Foolish Fears of The Night Before The First Day of School

It’s the night before the first day of school and it is debatable who might be more nervous—my freshman students beginning their high school experience tomorrow or me, a 21-year veteran teacher.

I love starting a school year for lots of reasons—“Every day is an opportunity to embrace “newness”—new technology, new family and social dynamics, new attitudes, new behaviors, new teaching strategies, new curriculum. I am a teacher with experience, and yet I still have so much to learn. I dance between both realms.” (excerpt from “Why I Teach”)

SoulFul Teaching
SoulCollage® card: My vision of what teaching would be like, in my idealistic naiveté, is represented by the black and white, old-fashioned image—students with smiles on their faces, eagerly waiting to learn; happy, compliant, and respectful, mesmerized by every word I said.
The reality is that teaching is a more “colorful” role than I had expected.

It’s the “so much to learn” part that makes me anxious. Each school year, there is the nervousness that goes with meeting new students. But this school year, I move into a new classroom with brand-spanking new computers to teach a new Digital Design class. I will need to learn Adobe software programs throughout the semester, often just a day or two before I teach my students. I am also cooperating with a new student teacher as she begins a career in education.

“Embracing newness” feels a little scary right now and, truth be told, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to answer student questions, that there will be problems I cannot solve, that I won’t be knowledgeable enough, that I won’t look and feel like a good teacher. Continue reading “Foolish Fears of The Night Before The First Day of School”

125 Years: A Big Day for Benedictines!

Celebrating the 125th Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation, Pope Francis addressed Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, Fr. Prior Mauritius Wilde and other Benedictines, expressing his gratitude “for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years.”

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Sant’ Anselmo, the seat of the Benedictine Confederation, is the home of the Abbot Primate and eighty monks from over thirty countries around the world. It was a thrill for me to visit Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo, for a tour of the academic center, prayers with the monks, and a formal address for the Fourth International Oblate Congress. It was Pope Leo XIII, Fr. Mauritius shared, who said, “You Benedictines need a place in Rome. He saw two things: he certainly saw it was difficult for him to control us Benedictines, so he wanted to have a representative in Rome and he created the office of the Abbott Primate, the highest representative of all Benedictines.”

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On April 18, 1893, the first stone of Sant’Anselmo was laid on the Aventine Hill.  “In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we wish to recall the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer, here in Rome”, Pope Francis said. On July 12, 1893, Pope Leo XIII officially established the Benedictine Confederation. Continue reading “125 Years: A Big Day for Benedictines!”

Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!

Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!

On March 21, Benedictines around the world celebrate the “transitus of St. Benedict, the day Benedict entered eternity. “Transitus” in Latin means passing from one state to the next—death is not the end of life, but the transition into eternity with God.  It is one of two days that St. Benedict is recognized on the Benedictine calendar. Since this feast day is always during Lent, another commemoration date was set when Pope Paul VI declared St. Benedict the Patron of Europe at the rededication of the Church at Monte Cassino on July 11, 1964. July 11 is the Feast of St. Benedict for the Universal Church. Only Mary, the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist are remembered with both their birthdays and their day of entry into heaven.

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Montecassino Abbey, Italy. St. Benedict penned the Rule in this Abbey.


Continue reading “Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!”

You Will Be With Me Wherever I Go

“Wherever you send me
There will I find you
Wherever you lead me
There will I go
Into all nations
All situations
You will be with me wherever I go.”
-Patrick on the Water, Garrison Doles

I stumbled upon a special song today called “Patrick on the Water”. The writer, Garrison Doles, was inspired by the life of St. Patrick—born in Britain, kidnapped by raiders, and enslaved in Ireland. Years later, after escaping, he felt called by the land where he had been held captive to travel back. The song tells this story while incorporating “The Deer’s Cry” or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer attributed to St. Patrick.

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What does it mean to follow God’s call wherever it may lead, “into all nations/all situations”? How can I trust that God “will be with me wherever I go”? Continue reading “You Will Be With Me Wherever I Go”

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