Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Visit to Subiaco

I went to Subiaco on Sunday the 22nd of April and saw there an interesting fresco. A monk was arguing with the devil and in the next pannel was being punished by Saint Benedict.

Thinking about this, I wondered what it could mean, and the answer that came to me was that it was a reminder that the devil is much more intelligent than we are, so arguing with him would be a waste of time. Besides this, one would not be relying on God's help, but being lured into the trick of relying on one's own strength.

Later I picked up a book by William Ullathorne, OSB called Patience and Humilty (Sophia Institute Press, 1998) and was surprised to read in the first few pages something which illumines that fresco and makes clear the Benedictine wisdom common to the artist and the author. It was this reflection:

"It is the fostering of minor troubles until they swell to a flood of sadness and discouragement that gives the devil a turbid pool in which to cast his nets. If those minor troubles befall you, let them drop. Be not disturbed; turn your heart to God. Do not look at them; do not dispute with them; answer them not a word. Only turn your mind from them and let them drop."

I found this to be such a simple and wise insight. How often I do try to solve my minor problems or troubled thoughts instead of simply trusting God. How often I run about trying to find peace. Just the other day, too, this became so evident. I wanted very desparately to be at peace... I was anxious to calm down, running to stand still (to steal the title of the U2 song). And yet isn't that so silly. What I was doing was shooting myself in the foot. I had a good laugh over that.

Just like the fresco at Subiaco and the wisdom of Don Ullathorne were saying, one can not overcome one's troubles by becoming troubled over them, but rather by turning one's gaze to God, trusting that He is a Father Who loves and will give the grace needed for us to trust and wait in patience for His Peace.

4 comments:

forget me not said...

This is so true, and yet it's so hard. When we're relatively at peace, we say "the next time I'm going to do better", but then we fall again, time and time again! The only thing that consoles me is that in my heart of hearts, I know the problems will pass because life goes in cycles. May that consoling thought take hold and be consolidated in my heart, so that the next time I am troubled, I may not panic so much!

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Thanks for the comment Forget me not (and with a name like that, who could?). I too find it one of the most difficult things to do... turn the simplest little problems over to the Lord. Just the other day as I was praying one of the psalms I noticed (as normal) I was a bit upset because I was aware of the difference between the attitude of the prayer in the psalm with my own tendencies. The psalm was talking about always remembering God, and it hit me that I don't. Now, normally, that makes me a bit sad, but I realized that I had another choice. I could simply choose to want to always remember God and know that this already is pleasing to God and that He will help me bring to completion that desire. The difference is that when I see that I don't have the same attitude as the psalm and I get upset, I then try to fix the problem, but I fail and succeed in only getting disturbed and loosing peace of heart - I then get discouraged. The other way, recognizes the difference between how I am and how I would like to be and submits it to God, handing it over with detatchment and faith. The first relies upon my own power and a trust in myself. The second trusts in God and in his power to bring to completion his work of sanctification within me.

May the Lord give you His Peace.

fmn said...

Thanks Br. Chris. You gave a perfect example, and it's comforting to know that our thought patterns are similar. There is one psalm which perfectly exemplifies this attitude: [He has] calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast... (Psalm 131)

I forgot to mention that I've been to Subiaco too, and I've seen that fresco. It impressed me, too!

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

FMN, Thanks for the reminder of Psalm 131. It's one of my favorites, and it is one that I want to live. By the way, after reading your post on your motto, let me just say, forse vedi lo stesso modo di pensare perché l'abuso, nelle sue forme diversi, sempre infligge degli effetti simili alle persone che lo subiscono.

Pace e bene.