The Rule of St. Benedict begins with the following statement: “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” Though Benedict wrote his rule for monks, it can easily be applied to all Christians. Today’s society cries out for a rule, a guide, or just something to help us cobble together some meaning and order in our lives. In the day of New Monasticism, perhaps it is a good time to look at the basic structure of “old monasticism.”
Benedict gives us two very key concepts in his opening statement, the concepts of listening and listening with the ear of your heart. The first is listening – listening in such a way that we truly hear. Our buzz phrase is multi-tasking. In this multi-society, the very idea of giving anything your undivided attention seems to be outlandish. Benedict, on the other hand, calls on the monks to listen to the instructions. Not only to listen, but to do so with all that we possess.
The type of listening that would serve the monks, and the ordinary Christian as well, is one that seeks the words of a master. Our real challenge is to let go of our egos and seek the master. We can very easily call Jesus our master, but we need a companion or a guide to help us to better understand our Lord. Throughout history men and women have gathered together in churches and other places dedicated to understanding our creator. In these places people have argued, disputed, and parted company to find meaning and truth. Benedict challenges us to listen, and with listening, God will speak.
We hear God with the ear of the heart. Over the years we have heard all sorts of things, some enlightening, others ridiculous, and all claiming to be the message of God. The ear of the heart is the listening given to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised not to leave His disciples orphaned, but to send an advocate to be with them. That advocate is the Spirit of God that lives within us. By attuning our ear to the Spirit we can listen and hear His instructions. At church, at work, at home, listen with the ear of your heart and God will pour out His blessings to you and fill your life with praise.