Chapter Four, Part Three
44. To fear the Day of Judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
47. To keep death before one's eyes daily.
48. To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.
49. To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.
50. To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one's heart.
51. And to disclose them to our spiritual guide.
52. To guard one's tongue against bad and wicked speech.
53. Not to love much speaking.
54. Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
55. Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
56. To listen willingly to holy reading.
57. To apply one's self often to prayer.
58. To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.
59. Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).
60. To hate one's own will.
61. To obey the commands of the abbot or abbess in all things, even though they themselves (which heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: "What they say, do; what they do, do not" (Mt 23:3).
In much of the Bible, the Judgment of God is a great hope to be invoked by the people of God. It is invoked, at its worst, as a punishment of enemies or as a means of control. In its best form, the hope is in a Reality that frees us from the need to be judge, a posture that, when we assume it, inflicts us with a condition that profoundly clouds our vision (Matt. 7:1-5). When God is Judge, I don't need to be. I can accept what is as it is.
How often do my thoughts and my words seek to manipulate what is? How often do I avoid the uncomfortable, formative moment?
One poignant image from this passage is found in number 50: "To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one’s heart.” This metaphor plays out often in my experience. I find myself daily falling prey to habits of thought and emotion that are at home in my small egoic mind instead of in God's large, unitive mind. I become the judge: impatient, overwhelmed, contemptuous, defensive, and, at the core, lonely. When I am given the grace to recognize this in myself, if I turn the attention of my heart to the Master, I find Christ to be as close as my breath – patient, at peace, kind, generous, and hospitable. At this point I find on my lips the request, "O God, make speed to save me. O Lord, make haste to help me," and Christ comes to me in that moment as liberator, as savior, as the judicious and longed-for judge.