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Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Applying Saint Benedict’s Rule for Supplicating God’s Mercy in 2024

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Applying Saint Benedict’s Rule for Supplicating God’s Mercy in 2024

“Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petition be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

It does not take a saint or prophet to know that we need to petition God’s mercy in these perilous times. Those with eyes to see recognize that we need God to intervene if we hope to overcome the globalist tyrants who increasingly display their allegiance to the Father of Lies. The depth of our peril is magnified immensely by the fact that the reputed leaders of the Catholic Church are among the worst malefactors alive today, and perhaps ever. And yet we know that God has not abandoned us.

How, then, do we petition God’s mercy? Chapter XX of the Rule of St. Benedict offers us the following holy wisdom:

“If, when we wish to make any request to men in power, we presume not to do so except with humility and reverence; how much more ought we with all lowliness and purity of devotion to offer our supplications to the Lord God of all things? And let us remember that not for our much speaking, but for our purity of heart and tears of compunction, shall we be heard. . .”

In his Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, Dom Paul Delatte expanded upon this basic logic of our need to supplicate God with humility and reverence:

“If we dare to approach the powerful of this world only with humility and reverence, if our sense of propriety and our own self interest make us adopt before each of them the appropriate attitude, with how much greater reason ought our supplications to the Lord and Master of all things to be made in all humility, devotion and purity?”

This is especially true when the favor we seek can only be granted by God. This ought to be a matter of common sense, and yet we risk forgetting it in practice and thereby acting against our own self interest. Have we, for example, responded to the great evils of the past few years — Traditionis Custodes, the Synod on Synodality, Covid, the rise of the Great Reset, etc. — by supplicating God with a truly evident increase in humility, devotion, and purity of intentions? If our supplications have been no more humble and reverent than they were when the world seemed less wicked, then we should not be surprised to find that God permits even greater evils.

The post-Vatican II crisis has greatly increased the risk of developing disordered inclinations related to our religion because, even though we seek to adhere to God’s immutable truth, our general lack of true shepherds leads us to rely so much on our own instincts.

After explaining the basic logic of how we should supplicate God, Dom Delatte continued with a reflection on true humility:

“Humility, as we know, springs from the consciousness of what God is and what we are in His sight. The habit of dealing with God, the facility with which He allows Himself to be approached, and the very humble forms He takes when He comes down to us — none of these things should lessen our respect. One of the most certain marks of delusion is to treat God as an equal, as one who has made a bargain with us and with whom we are doing business.”

If the monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict need to hear these words even though they generally live in conditions of thorough external humility, we who live “in the world” almost certainly have an even greater need to hear them. It is natural for many of us to look at the problems of the world — Biden, Francis, the Great Reset, etc. — and think about how we plan to solve them. Perhaps we turn to God for His assistance, but in doing so, as Dom Delatte wrote, we sometimes treat Him “as one who has made a bargain with us and with whom we are doing business.”

The saints — who have the humility which “springs from the consciousness of what God is and what we are in His sight” — understand not only that they can do nothing without God but also that the best they can do in any situation is to submit themselves entirely to His will. Thus, instead of trying to decide how they will solve the world’s problems (such as Francis’s manifest heresies) they focus their attention on how to best supplicate God’s grace and mercy. By humbly putting themselves at God’s disposal, they will ultimately be the instruments that God uses to address the problems confronting the world.

Dom Delatte next considered St. Benedict’s reference to purity:

“Purity is mentioned as many as three times in these few lines. We should understand it not only in the special sense of freedom from gross passions, but also of detachment from all created love and the absence of all base alloy. Our prayers will be effective when we are able to say to God: ‘I undoubtedly have, unknown to myself, inclinations which You see and which displease You: I love them as little as You, and I disavow them.’ When our will, which is the source of every relation, is free from all irregular attachment, then God has established in us true purity.”

Purity of intention goes hand-in-hand with humility because our lack of true humility often comes into view when we discover tension between God’s will and our disordered inclinations. The post-Vatican II crisis has greatly increased the risk of developing disordered inclinations related to our religion because, even though we seek to adhere to God’s immutable truth, our general lack of true shepherds leads us to rely so much on our own instincts.

Our diehard insistence on these contested matters — whether we see Francis as definitely the pope, or definitely not the pope — does not in any way help us supplicate God’s mercy and can, indeed, stand in the way.

As such, the disordered condition in the Church frequently leads faithful Catholics to fight each other rather than our common enemies. As Michael Matt emphasized in his recent Remnant Underground, though, today we must look past our disagreements about matters beyond our complete understanding and together beg God’s mercy to resolve the crisis in the Church. Each of us should want God to see us as “a faithful Catholic entirely united to Him in conformity with His will,” rather than, for example, whatever label we apply to ourselves relating to our view of Francis:

“To pray in purity of heart is . . . to display to the gaze and heart of God the desire and affection of a soul which is free, which is disengaged from all base attachments and united to Him in conformity of will.”

If we believe Francis is a manifest heretic and anti-pope, we can and should place these concerns before Our Lord, asking Him to both intervene and make us entirely docile to His will during these perilous times. Our diehard insistence on these contested matters — whether we see Francis as definitely the pope, or definitely not the pope — does not in any way help us supplicate God’s mercy and can, indeed, stand in the way.

Dom Delatte also discussed St. Benedict’s reference to tears of compunction:

“Compunction — though the [Imitation of Christ] tells us it is better to have it than define it — is that softening of heart caused in us, under the guidance of faith, by the remembrance of our faults and the consideration of the benefits of God. Our Holy Father several times in his Rule conjoins prayer and tears, as though the two things went naturally together . . .”

Faithful Catholics have had to fight the false shepherds of Vatican II’s anti-Catholic revolution for so long that we have naturally risked developing a certain hardness of heart. Compunction is a “softening of heart” — caused by a remembrance of our faults and the benefits of God —that better disposes us to supplicate God’s mercy and recognize the paths He wants us to take.

These dispositions all work together to make our supplications more pleasing to God: remembrance of our sins reinforces our humility, which should help us want to disavow any inclinations which would displease God. God is God, and we are not; instead, we are miserable sinners in great need of His mercy. As we reflect on the great trials facing us in 2024, we should heed St. Benedict’s holy wisdom so that we can do all in our power to supplicate God’s mercy. It takes far more courage and effort to pursue holiness than to entertain our disordered inclinations, but at this stage in our warfare against Satan we need to have the spiritual maturity to do everything possible to serve God. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

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Last modified on Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.