Sunday, April 17, 2011

Twelve Steps in Family Life

"The entryway  into the family cloister is constructed of twelve humble steps." (Family Cloister)

St Benedict has Twelve Steps of Humility -- like a ladder.     The Family Cloister puts a sort of paraphrase or simple maxim for each one to make them easier to remember.   It also points out that Jesus is our model in humility.  He lived this way, with generosity.  He chose freely and abundantly to be poor, to have no place to lay His head, to submit His will not only to His Father's, but even to the Mosaic Law, and to receive the baptism of repentance from John the Baptist.

So here are the paraphrased "Steps". 

  1. Focus your eyes on God
  2. Love God's will more than your own
  3. Submit to those in authority over you.
  4. Put up with affliction without complaining
  5. Confess your sins
  6. Be content with the simple life
  7. Accept our smallness
  8. Yield.
  9. Keep a rein on the tongue
  10. Avoid empty speech and foolish laughter
  11. Speak gently, truthfully and simply
  12. Have humility in your heart not just in your actions

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

These steps sound difficult -- at least to me.     It's like trying to walk into our house after a huge snowfall with the storm still going on.  Every step takes me past my knees into the snow, and after a few steps I'm exhausted and feel like giving up.  But with our Lord as strength it is not so difficult.   I picture Him forging through the snow first and then I only have to keep my eyes on Him, follow Him, and put my feet where His have already gone.  Then it is more doable.

It's interesting how much the cloistered life is ordered towards making this kind of behavior easier.  And to some extent it is true in a family life, too.    When we forget to rein in our tongues, or yield in non-necessities, or speak gently, it shows up right away like a tear in a garment.  

As for teaching my kids -- I am not really sure how, except by leading them in His footsteps, too.   And holding their hands if they need a little extra support. 

1 comment:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!