When the founders of my religious community went out to search for the true way of total commitment to Our Lord, they chose to pray with the Benedictines, those men who follow the rule of living established by St. Benedict fifteen hundred years ago. They travelled to the Benedictine monasteries near Paris where they lived. They followed the ora et labora rhythm of life and searched out whether or not Our Lord was calling them to a radical community life.
They learned from the Benedictines how to live chastely and yet welcome every person, man or woman as you would welcome Christ himself. Possessing nothing, nothing at all, not even your own writing pen, much less your desk or bed, they learned that Our Lord provides everything through community possession. How awesome it must have been when these young men led by Theodore Janski began to learn that the key to opening the door of their hearts was simply to submit their own selves to the will of the Lord expressed by the members of the community. Who would have thought that obedience could unlock the human heart?
I don’t know about you but I talk too often and when I do talk, I talk to much. I’m thinking about what I am going to say to you next rather than listening to what you are saying. And, when I pray, that urging within me ends up often as a monologue about me, what I think I need, how I think I should improve, how debased I am. I talk way too much in prayer. I have almost -not totally- but, almost forgotten that half of prayer is listening. Awkwardly said, but you understand what I mean.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” I want to hear that voice so I have to cease talking. Even, St. Paul, who loved to talk reminds us that Faith comes by hearing. If I am not listening for Faith, I won’t know it when it speaks.
Even today the Jewish community begins each common prayer with the “Shama,” “Hear, O Israel, there is only one God.”
I try to remember a little mneumonic that I’ve found useful. Sometimes, I see the letters in my mind’s eye and sometimes I actually print those letters out. Here they are: “S-Y-M.” Shut Your Mouth!