Rule of Life: Learning from Jesus

Earlier in July I introduced The Rule of Life Series. I’ll be exploring month-by-month what it means to live out each Rule of Life from the Community of St Anselm (COSA), now I’m an alumni.

August 2019: Learning from Jesus

The Rule

Come to me … and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart. (Matt 11:28-29)

Jesus, being fully God and fully human, is our example in everything. Our very identity is in Christ and it shapes how we interact with people – like Jesus we can listen deeply and value the worth of each person, see people like our Father sees them, pray with the deepest assurance. Jesus is our model for life. The way we learn from Jesus is given shape by the inheritance the Holy Spirit has given us in St Benedict, St Francis and St Ignatius.

We choose to offer our whole persons: body, soul and spirit, to be shaped in the likeness of Christ by a complete openness to His Holy Spirit. We hold nothing back: there is no thought or doctrine or attitude or value that is exempt from the transforming presence of our Lord.

Living it out in Community

This was the broadest of all the rules and worked more like an ethos – giving shape to the entire year. Being a new-monastic community, COSA draws inspiration from various sources, including St Benedict, St Francis and St Ignatius. Archbishop Justin Welby sometimes referred to it as a monastic boot camp! Because of the leadership of Chemin Neuf at Lambeth Palace, an Ignatian Charismatic community, the strongest of these influences was St Ignatius. We were taught to pray with scripture in a style known as Lectio Divina. We would be given a piece of paper on a Monday morning with a text to pray with for each day of the week ahead. It is more like reading scripture for transformation, rather than information.
– lectio (reading slowly
– meditatio (ruminate)
– oratio (pray and listen)
– contempatio (listening and rest)

Jesus is our model for life. Many of the texts we prayed with were in the Gospels, and this was especially the case on the week-long Silent Retreat. This gave many of us a chance to encounter Jesus in a different way.

We choose to offer our whole persons: body, soul and spirit, to be shaped in the likeness of Christ by a complete openness to His Holy Spirit. One of the most important qualities needed in a community member was an attitude of teachability. Seeing a spiritual accompanier (spiritual director / mentor) regularly was a crucial part of life in community and for me was a sign of openness to being transformed.

Living it out as an Alumni

Here are three simple practices I’ll be doing in August to live out this rule of life more intentionally.

One: Praying the Gospels each day, Lectio Divina. I was gifted the ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal: New Testament Set which has a blank page on the right – perfect for this exercise! I’ve never been that great at journalling (despite collecting journals) mainly because I’m a perfectionist, so I’m looking forward to this challenge.

Two: Receive spiritual direction. Last week, I met a potential spiritual director and will have my first session in August. It’s much harder to stay in a spiritual rut when you’re being asked the hard questions each month!

Three: Go to the movies! Okay, this is actually spiritual, let me explain. In this Rule of Life it states ‘like Jesus we can listen deeply and value the worth of each person, see people like our Father sees them‘. A person who modelled this was Jean Vanier, philospher and founder of L’Arche. I’m planning to see the film about his life, Summer in the Forest. If you’re in Melbourne, come along… they still need to sell 37 more tickets to make it happen. Book here.

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