On Balance

Oblate Day 2008 was filled with provocative and nourishing presentations by the Oblates, and many have agreed to post them here on the blog. Rock Island Oblate Ric Smith, a regular blogger here, posted his talk previous to this post. Macomb Oblate Bill Maakestad’s presentation is below.

I.    Introduction: On Balance

A.    “A man should always wear a garment with two pockets.  In one there should be a note which reads, “I am but dust and ashes.” In the other, there should be a paper which says, “For me the world was created.” (Rabbi Fields)
B.    Beware of turning the quest for balance in one’s life into a “tightrope balancing act—with juggling!” (Fr. Mike Schaab)
C.    Spiritual rhythm in one’s life can be as important as spiritual balance: Recall the rhythms of the earth’s seasons and Bible’s liturgical year.

II.    Challenges and Obstacles to Spiritual Balance and Rhythm

A.    Lack of time!  “We are rapidly becoming a third world country with respect to time—a temporally impoverished nation…” (Jacob Needleman) Combined with overcommitment, can lead to living on “autopilot.”
B.    Story Overload!  “We’ve become increasingly isolated from the most important stories in our lives: family, ethnic, religious and cultural…and seduced by ads and paralyzed by the media’s pessimism.” (Ted Guzie)
C.    Over-reliance on logic and reason! “Reason alone never moved anybody.” (Plato)  Consider instead a more intuitive, imaginative approach to spirituality.  Also, “Jesus doesn’t really teach us much about God! And the more I think I learn about God, the deeper the mystery becomes.” (Fr. Pat Fennel)

III.    The Search for Spiritual Balance

A.    Recognizing our dual nature:

1.    Reflective (Tending to our self)—Scripture helps!
2.    Active (Tending to our relationships)—Sacraments help!

B.    Drawing upon our Benedictine tradition

1.    Reflective: Prayer, contemplation, “listening with the ear of our heart”
2.    Active: Hospitality, joy of service, “treating all guests as Christ”

IV.    The Search for Spiritual Rhythm

A.    “Our life rhythms are more like jazz than rock: shifting, syncopated—not static!”
B.    “Each of us carries two passports in life: one to the land of the well, and one to the land of the sick.”
C.    “The greatest prayer ever said: Help!”
D.    “Each of life’s blessings and challenges can create an opportunity for a redirection of our moral and spiritual energies, to allow us to live and act with loving kindness.”  (Ronald Rolheiser)
E.    Considering The Sabbath: Truly living a day of rest. (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)
F.    Drawing upon Benedictine traditions: prayer, study and work—with support from fellow oblates.

V.    Conclusion: Humble Spiritual Lessons from a Benedictine Oblate

A.    Our spirituality must be pursued in community.
B.    Our lives require each if us to recognize and establish some sort of spiritual rhythm—and it’s different for different people.
C.    Our spirituality s incarnational, and it must be reflected in a balance between our prayer, our study, and our work.

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