Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Wash, make yourselves clean

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Cistercians_webYou urge me to lay down for you some rule for contemplating the Beloved and to give you a method for this discovery and vision. What does this mean? Would you have me confine within a rule the bounty of God's gift? This vision results not from human effort but from grace. It is the fruit of revelation, not of research. If, however, effort can contribute to this end, observe first the advice of Isaiah: 'Wash, make yourselves clean'. Secondly, write about wisdom in your time of leisure, for one who is relieved of other tasks will acquire wisdom. Thirdly, be violent and capture the joy of the kingdom too long withheld from you.

So you are advised to keep your heart purified, prompt and importunate. By the first you will become worthy, by the second devout, by the third eager; that is, worthy, attentive and insistent: worthy to welcome grace, meeting it on the way, impatient when it delays. By the first you are prepared; by the second you are likened to the bride as she waits for her Beloved to return from the wedding feast; by the third you hasten, just as the bride who does not wait but hastens and bypasses even the watchmen.

Gilbert of Hoyland

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