This is a new feature that will appear once a month. One of the Lay Cistercians of Holy Cross Abbey selects texts from the writings of the Twelfth Century Cistercian authors; this began as a celebration of our tradition in monthly emails to the other Lay Cistercians and is now being shared with the Abbey’s Website. This month’s selection, from a First Sermon for the Feast of St. Benedict by Abbot Guerric of Igny, anticipates Wednesday’s Solemnity.
To achieve this wisdom of continuing in wisdom, it is most important, I think, not readily to allow restlessness or any kind of slight provocation to keep you away from any of the exercises of wisdom: the divine office, private prayer, lectio divina, the appointed daily labor or the practice of silence. For the praises of wisdom are sung by the completion of the office. “My lips will rejoice”, says the Holy Man, “when they shall have sung to you.” And in another psalm you have it in so many words: “You make the outgoings of the morning and the evening joyful.” As for private prayer, you know from daily experience that it too is better at the end than it is at the beginning. This is so that you may have confidence in the advice of the Lord, given so often and recommended by so much example, to be persevering in prayer. Again when you sit down to read and you do not really read, or if before you even begin to read you put the book down again, what good do you think that will do? If you do not continue with the Scriptures so as to become familiar with them through assiduous study, when do you think they will open themselves to you? He who has love of the Word, we are told, to him shall understanding be given and he will abound; but he who has not, what knowledge he may have by way of natural endowment, will be taken away from him because of his negligence. Then with regard to manual work, surely you have learned enough about this, have you not, to know that, like the wage given to the workers, consolation is often reserved to the end of the work? And of course when we come to silence a promise is given by the Prophet when he says: “In silence and in hope shall your strength be.” For if you cultivate holiness in silence and, following the advice of Jeremiah, you wait in silence for the salvation of the Lord, then secretly in this midst of silence the all-powerful Word of God will leap down to you from his royal throne. The waters of Siloe which flow silently will inundate the valley of your quiet and peaceful heart like a gently flowing stream. And this you will experience not once but many times, if only your silence is the cultivation of holiness, that is, if you meditate on holiness so that you may continue in the Scriptures as I have suggested and in your mind consider the all-seeing eye of God.
Guerric of Igny, Liturgical Sermons, Book 2: Sermon 22: The First Sermon for St. Benedict (CF 32, pp. 5-7)