Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For Lent

And in these days of Lent they shall each receive a book from the library, which they shall read straight through from the beginning. These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.
The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 48

Well, while I have not finalized my choice on what to give up for Lent (I think it will be coffee again -- always a challenge) I do know what book I will try to work through. I think it's time to work straigt through Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. I have picked at this one on and off over the years, and backed off from it every time. It's more than a little challenging, in fact so forthright it's frightening. But with some of the things I am considering these days, I don't think I can put it off any longer. You can look forward to comments and excerpts in this space as Lent progresses. From Chapter 49 of the Rule, On the Observance of Lent:
During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.
I wish you all a holy Lent.

1 comment:

Neil said...

Thank you very much for your blog, especially the reflections on Scripture. I wanted to write to say that I'll be interested (and, I am sure) grateful to read your comments and excerpts. There are two aspects in Bonhoeffer's thought to which I keep returning over and over - and which I'm sure that I don't yet fully grasp. Rowan Williams touched on both of them in a recent sermon:

"And then, in a letter to Eberhard Bethge written in July 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer recalls a conversation many years earlier with the French pastor, Jean Lasserre. ‘He said he would like to become a saint (and I think it’s quite likely that he did become one). At the time I was very impressed, but I disagreed with him, and said, in effect, that I should like to learn to have faith.’ And he continued, ‘I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith’ (Letters and Papers from Prison, 1971 ed., p.369)."

And:

"So if we ask about the nature of the true Church, where we shall see the authentic life of Christ’s Body – or if we ask about the unity of the Church, how we come together to recognise each other as disciples - Bonhoeffer’s answer would have to be in the form of a further question. Does this or that person, this or that Christian community, stand where Christ is? Are they struggling to be in the place where God has chosen to be? And he would further tell us that to be in this place is to be in a place where there are no defensive walls; it must be a place where all who have faith in Jesus can stand together, and stand with all those in whose presence and in whose company Christ suffers, making room together for God’s mercy to be seen."

Thanks again.