Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Being Beloved Children of God (Part 4)

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Dropping our plan. What that Prodigal Son had to accept at that moment was to drop his own plan completely and accept the father’s embrace of love. Accept the father’s way. Let the father clothe him in the new garment—the garment we receive when we receive the habit. Put on his finger a ring, a pledge of a relationship as deep as the marital relation. Celebrate him! Kill the fatted calf!

I would venture to say that this is precisely that deep struggle each one of us is having. To be able to move out of our own plan and our own self-identity—a false self, even though it is a self that has a lot of truth in it—and see ourselves as poor, weak, stupid sinners. Being able to step out of that and accept the reality of who we are—the beloved son of God who is love beyond anything we can comprehend. And let God celebrate us! We all struggle with that. The only way we are going to make the breakthrough is when we have the experience, when we experience God actually saying to us, “This is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased” [12]. When we have that experience, then we are completely freed and can know ourselves as the beloved child of God.
Even though we are poor, weak, stupid sinners, we are the beloved child of God whom he celebrates [13]. We do not stand anymore in self-righteousness like the good boy who stayed home and did everything his father always wanted. No. We do not get crushed down by our stupid sinfulness, but we accept the reality that we are embraced with divine love. We are God’s beloved son!

How do I see myself as son and God as father and open myself to this conversion?
We will be ready for the epiphany of Easter, when we will truly know that we have been baptized into the Risen Christ, that we are the beloved son who has the fullness of eternal life. We have overcome the sin of death.

The cost. Why do we hold back from this? Because we know it is going to cost. It is going to cost us to be profoundly humble. To know our true dignity, to know God’s fantastic love, and to know our poor, weak, stupid sinfulness is profoundly humbling. It utterly destroys any shred of dignity we try to build up with the false self. It calls us forth to live as sons. That is why our father Benedict says, “The labor of our obedience will bring us back to him from whom we have drifted through the sloth of disobedience” [14].

When we know our dignity, know who we truly are, know who God truly is, then there is something deep in us the cries out as did Jesus, “I do always the things that please the Father” [15]. This means a real dying to self—all our self-will, all our own ideas, all our way of doing it. We know that, but we do not want to pay that price. The price we pay for not doing it is that we deprive ourselves of knowing who we truly are and of living in the glory and joy of being the beloved son of God.

A talk given on the Rule of Saint Benedict
by Abbot M. Basil Pennington, OCSO
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery
Thursday, March 8, 2001

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