Feast of the Visitation at Mississippi Abbey

“He has lifted up the lowly.” His creatures count on that! We must always remember what God has done: When God showed Himself to Moses, He showed His back. Moses knew Him by where He’d been. So He has lifted up the lowly through such events as the Exodus. And now He does this by initiating His plan of salvation through two ordinary women, by two miraculous pregnancies.

This “lifting up the lowly” is a key promise that undergirds our monastic life. Because of our fallen condition we try to do this lifting ourselves. Very heavy! In our previous life, our efforts at rising above ourselves largely consisted in diversions or dominance. Through these, we could avoid facing our powerlessness. So we come to the monastery and, as Dom Andre Louf says, we walk straight at it. We let it be done to us. It will be done to us by either (or both) remembering in one’s personal history how we have been lifted up in our lowliness, or by experiencing now that lowliness. But to be a legitimate experience, it has to be done by “living in the truth.” This is done through a life-situation in which it is difficult to avoid facing up to powerlessness and to the need for God to do the lifting. As St. Benedict tells us in the 4th Step of Humility, we are taking “the narrow road”, we are obedient under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, we endure without weakening or seeking escape, we bear with false sisters, and endure persecution.  We stay the course through fidelity to monastic life and stability. Monastic discipline is opposed to evasion.