"If, perchance, any difficult or impossible tasks be enjoined on a brother, let him nevertheless receive the order of him who commandeth with all meekness and obedience. If, however, he see that the gravity of the task is altogether beyond his strength, let him quietly and seasonably submit the reasons for his inability to his Superior, without pride, protest, or dissent. If, however, after his explanation the Superior still insisteth on his command, let the younger be convinced that so it is good for him; and let him obey from love, relying on the help of God." - Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 68
Yes! It ties very well with my recent activity as the baker of the Abbey! At first it seemed like a manageable task... Bake enough bread for two outlets every weekend- and leave some additional loaves for our visitors on Sundays. Then the summer came, and with that two more markets were added and the amount of bread to be baked became monumental! Now things got really out of hand… I had to choose between my timing in putting cinnamon raisin bread in the oven and Morning Prayer! Then the thoughts begin to cripple… “Am I against the rule if I miss prayers?” “Do I tell the abbot that I can’t do this work on my own?” “Do I quit altogether?”
Then I faced myself with the best part of this chapter: “trusting in God’s help…” Yes, of course! Just like the Psalm that says: “let your heart take courage, trust in the Lord!” or the word of the prophet that says: “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge HIM…”
So then, what could I answer to those previous trivial questions? Well, first, if I can’t make it to any of the offices, Benedict instructs me to: “kneel right where you are and offer due worship to God.” Instead of complaining about the fact that there is no one to help me, perhaps I can ask whether there be someone out there willing to help; instead of giving up altogether, why not offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make good use of my vows to the Most High! Or as a plate Brother Richard gifted me says in Spanish, “There’s no better philosophy than to work happily!” Besides, St. Benedict reassures me also by saying: “they are truly monks, who work by their hands.”
So… have you a difficult task ahead of you? Have you figured out by now, that it is easier to “give up” and through your hands in the air, than to actually give it a try? Have you thought that your efforts could bring a more positive outcome to the situation than any misconception you might have about the whole thing- whatever that “thing” is?
The other day I had to counsel a teacher, who thought that going back to a south Peoria school could be compared to facing demons and warlocks, rather than actual students. I try to reassure her by explaining that, for a boxer, facing an opponent is the least of his worries- losing the title and the ton of money is! So what do they say when interviewed? “I’ll prove it in the ring!” In other words… “I’ll show you what I am capable of in the arena.” (a.k.a. school, work-place, etc.)
Therefore, I exhort you to look at a challenge (and face your demons) with an objective eye, after all… you have the best trainer in the world (GOD!)
“If God is for us, who can be against us!!!”