We begin a look at stability, one of the foundational Benedictine vows—and one sorely needed today. De Wall explores it in Chapter 4.
It is impossible to calculate the damage done by the “prosperity gospel” (which is no gospel). Disillusioned, disappointed, and deceived people are its result. Such is always the case when we forget that spirituality is reality.
The vow of stability formed the foundation of true spirituality in Benedict’s day, and before. It needs to do so today. Stability tests us at two key places. We will look at the first place today—the place of motive.
Chapter 58 of the Rule requires the community to refuse a seeker entry for four or five days. Why? To withhold hospitality? No. Rather, to test the motive of the seeker.
A delay showed whether the seeker was knocking to meet an immediate need, or knocking to seek God.
The first, ancient question in receiving people into a monastery was, “What do you seek?” It is still where our spiritual formation begins. Until we say, “I seek God,” we are coddling some secondary motive. But the spiritual life can only be sustained for the long-haul by seeking God alone (e.g. Matt 6:33).
Jesus called this “purity of heart” (Matt 5:8). Stability preserves it by burning away the chaff of instant gratification.