The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 59
Of the many issues at play in this chapter, I am drawn to that which our Father Benedict says has been "learned by experience" about the erosion of zeal over time. Sr. Joan reflects,
The fact is that when the full realization of what we have promised begins to dawn on us, it is often more common to come to dubious terms with the demise of the commitment than it is to quit it.
The solution, as presented in this chapter, is what she calls "the spirituality of the long haul." She continues,
We must learn to complete in faith what we began in enthusiasm; we must learn to be true to ourselves; we must continue to become what we said we would be, even when accommodation to the immediate seems to be so much more sensible, so much more reasonable, so much easier.
One practical example of this tendency can be seen in my own life over the nearly two years since my profession. I've found that the amount of effort it takes to overcome the inertia that keeps me in the mold of "secular" life is more than I had anticipated. It's a matter of habit, yes, but it's also a losing sight of what I said I would be when I professed my vows. The social reality, "mother culture," as it were, has proved stronger at times than my will to live out of my new identity.
I imagine that the experience was much the same for the families described in Chapter 59. The inertia towards passing down wealth and privilege to one's children is difficult to overcome, especially as the months and years wear on and the enthusiasm surrounding the oblation wears off.
Intentions must be renewed regularly in every community that seeks to radically re-orient the cultural dispositions of human life.