The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 7 Pt. 2
Our Father Benedict chooses troublesome language to describe the first step of humility. Words such as "fear" and "hell-fire" seem to fit better in a Flannery O'Connor novel than in the Rule. So what is St. Benedict getting at with such a vocabulary? I don't want to dismiss or explain away his harsh words, but it's important, I believe, to peer through them to what lies deeper than the literal. When I do this, I see the essence of the first step of humility to be a shifting of focus from the egocentric to the theocentric, from the things that concern only my small programs and agendas to those that participate in the eternal life of God.
If we are to be free from our various sins and vices, we must resist them "at every moment." Such resistance is maintained by keeping the awe of God always "before [our] eyes." And we keep our eyes on God by returning to prayer again, and again, and again each time the bell rings. In the realm of my conscious attention, nothing, especially not me and my concerns, is to be given priority over the Opus Dei.
I climb the first rung of this ladder in each moment, in the eternal Now, not once and for all.