Trust in God + Do All Things with Counsel

This week’s Mass readings have had a large portion of “Trust in God,” and how, when we don’t trust in God’s help, God’s mercy, God’s love and constant support, we can get into trouble.

For me, that trouble usually comes when I try to depend only on my own judgement--and at the same time, fail to consult God in Scripture, in prayer and in the Holy Rule of St. Benedict. Equally important, I may neglect to consult my Sisters in community.

Once when I was still quite new in our community, I made a decision which really needed to be discussed with other community members, but wasn’t. As it happened, that decision wasn’t fatal, but it was deeply flawed and caused some trouble. Because of that trouble, I’ve never forgotten this quotation from the Rule, which has been a reliable guide to me ever since: “Do everything with counsel and you will not be sorry afterward.” And in spite of the Rule’s guidance, that wasn’t the sole poor decision I ever made, especially in my early years here. But it takes time to learn new things in a new way of life, for people of all ages.

When we do things with counsel, we experience the advantages of humility. No matter what a person’s background, no matter how wise, there is always someone—or more than one—who may know more than we do in a particular area, or simply about how Benedictine community life “works.” So in asking for counsel, we admit the fact that we don’t know everything there is to know. And even better, we don’t end up making excuses or blaming someone else for our mistakes...because we all make errors, and we can learn from them, even the wisest and most experienced. A good thing to remember in community life, and a good reason to be compassionate with anyone who is currently experiencing the results of a poorly informed decision.

 One of the very first things we study in our (or any) Benedictine community is the Holy Rule. The text of the Rule of St. Benedict is overflowing with quotations from Holy Scripture. When I read the Rule and attend Morning, Noon and Evening Praise as well as Mass, I have a good start in being nourished spiritually. At our three times a day communal prayer, the Psalms are the main course. Some tasty side dishes are Canticles from Scripture, including the Benedictus (the Song of Zechariah) and the Magnificat (of Mary, on her visit to Elizabeth). And if dessert is needed, consider the beautiful hymns, both traditional and modern. Some of our hymns are composed by our Sister Monika Ellis, and others by Benedictines from various other communities. Once, quite a few years back, I felt inspired to compose a hymn whose roots were in the Rule. It still gives me pleasure to sing it with our community.

St. Placid Priory is blessed at this time, and for many years past, to have the Benedictine monks at St. Martin’s Abbey nearby act as our chaplains. Currently several of them rotate the celebration of Sunday Mass with us, and we are so happy to have them come. Our weekday chaplain, whom we see more regularly, has clearly been studying Scripture and preaching for a long time. He has a compassionate heart, and he enjoys elucidating the Scriptures, which I so appreciate, especially when he reveals a different way, a way that may be new to me, to look at a passage from Scripture. His homilies this week were my inspiration for this piece.


  • Comment posted by Laura Swan on August 11, 2023 at 9:32PM (10 months ago)

    So aptly put. Life is best when shared with others; including figuring next steps in our life!

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