Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience…Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out…(Rule of Benedict, Prologue)
“Into the midst of all this indistinguishable cacophony of life, the bell tower of every Benedictine monastery rings ‘listen.’Listen with the heart of Christ.Listen with the lover’s ear.Listen for the voice of God.Listen in your own heart for the sound of truth, the kind that comes when a piece of quality crystal is struck by a medal rod…[Modern life] does not prepare us for the slow and tedious task of listening and learning, over and over, day after day, until we can finally hear the people we love and love the people we’ve learned to dislike and grow to understand how holiness is here and now for us” (Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled, 23, 26).
Listening (intently) and Obedience go hand in hand.See what factors this week cause you to be distracted and inattentive to God’s voice, your friend’s and family’s voices, and your own desire for Christ’s presence.
Make note of these distractions then ask the tough question, ‘why am I distracted by this?’ Reflect also on times when you most attentive to God and to others.How can you integrate those times into everyday life?
France has mandated by law the Muslim Burqa offensive to French culture.It is now illegal for a woman to don the traditional Muslim dress in France. If they are caught they must pay a fine and take a ‘cultural awareness’ class. We all know the uproar over the Mosque and cultural center being planned two blocks from Ground Zero in New York.
Beyond Western sensibilities and patriotism, it is interesting to hear arguments against Muslim practice based on either so-called American Christian culture or so-called American Christian beliefs.Islam is not Christian. I am not Muslim.In discussion with Muslim friends we have sharp disagreements over truth and, mostly, over the identity of Jesus.
However, Burqas and Mosques are a good thing for Christians. For one, in a radically secular culture that values universal human rights and pluralism above anything else, religious freedom for one will ensure religious liberty for the other.But the key issue is one of visible, and audible piety.Should we be offended when a Muslim hears the call of prayer on our soil and prays five times per day?Should we be intimidated by women in black burqas?Certainly not on the basis of Western democracy.
What burqas and Mosques should do for the Christian is to provide a deep challenge and a sense of shame that we have a faith that few actually follow.Would a Christian risk occupation to pray at the set hours of the day (ancient Christians prayed seven times per day)?No, ‘we can pray anytime’ is the usual argument we hear.
The Adhan is not offensive, only a reminder that Muslims pray and American Christians use excuses not to.The burqa is not offensive because it is a reminder that Christians have little visible presence in our culture, save scandals and politics.
Receive the challenge of Islam.And pray.And be salt and light.