Sabbath Moments

June 16, 2012

Awareness of God

Welcome to Colleen’s Saturday meme which she hosts from Thoughts on Grace.  Join us in sharing the pauses we had with God this week.

The war is on!

About a week and a half ago the Japanese beetles showed up – early because of the warm spring, I’m sure.  My husband got some traps at Lowe’s and I hung them early this week.  Right away large numbers were caught.  You gotta get these critters as early as you can because they have a short eating, mating, and egg laying cycle.  Trapping them helps prevent the birth of the next generation because the female can’t burrow into the ground to lay eggs.

I watched the action around the traps at mid-day with immense satisfaction.  That seems to be the time when they are most active.  It was fascinating to see them land on the pheromone containing object and then drop like a rock into the bag. 

Japanese Beetle (photo courtesy of Northrup Photography

Some people complain about beetle traps attracting large numbers of beetles.  They express resentment that their neighbors do nothing and all the bugs show up in their yard.  Well, duh!  That’s what traps are for.  I hope I get every beetle from a four block area in my traps.  (Wishful thinking, I know, but somewhat possible.)  That way I’ll know that my neighbors aren’t hosting next year’s generation of beetles.  Seriously, since I used both traps and Neem last year, it seems that we’ve had some success in reducing the numbers.

Fighting beetles is like fighting sin.  We have to be ruthless to keep our souls alive in God’s grace.  And we should experience joy and satisfaction when, with God’s grace, we’ve been able to remove an occasion of sin from our lives like the traps are removing the beetles.  We, like the plants in my garden, can then bear good fruit.

The tenth degree of humility

In Chapter 7 of his Rule, St. Benedict instructs us:

The tenth step of humility is that he [the monk] is not given to ready laughter, for it is written, “Only a fool raises his voice in laughter” (Sirach 21:23).

At first glance we might think that St. Benedict doesn’t want his monks or today’s oblates to have any fun.  But he’s really talking about the kind of laughter that harms self and others.

Father Gerard Ellspermann, O.S.B. writes:

Laughter, the right kind of laughter, has its place in the world and in the family.  In fact, it is a need of nature and it would be absurd to prohibit it entirely.  St. Benedict, says a Cistercian commentator, did not intend to prohibit it.  Indeed, laughter is a relaxation, sometimes necessary.

What St. Benedict is talking about is the habit of treating nothing seriously, of turning everything into a jest.  The tendency to laugh at everything and at every excuse, to express unkindly by derisive laughter scorn at another’s words, not to take seriously the very serious business of the Christian life is really what St. Benedict is aiming against, when he quotes Scripture.

Here, too, there is the call to the oblate for moderation.  As with speaking, so also in laughter, there is need for us to be on our guard against “much and violent laughter,” the kind that hurts, is inconsiderate, indicating criticism, or unkindness.

On the other hand, the recollection and the sense of the presence of God that are engendered by a deep humility make the oblate serious when he or she should be serious and pleasant, affable, smiling, chuckling when each should.

Let us, then, earnestly strive to understand the inexpressible seriousness of the Christian life we shall be able to take one more step upward that leads us to God.  Most assuredly, each oblate should strive to acquire cheerfulness of heart and joy in the Lord.  But be sure that joy is founded in God, for, says St. Bernard, “Nothing reveals true misery so much as untrue joy.”

As I read this I thought of the few times in my life when I’ve run across real silliness in people when they were constantly tittering or joking about this that and the other thing.  That is one kind of the “ready laughter” St. Benedict was talking about. Such people really irritated me because it was impossible to have a meaningful conversation with them about anything.  Such behavior makes it highly unlikely to have a trustworthy and authentic, true friendship with them because the silliness keeps people from getting to know the real person underneath.

Real and appropriate laughter is a gift from God, on the other hand – a blessing to lighten the load of everyday life.  Who doesn’t need a good belly laugh from time to time?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, June 16th, 2012 Sabbath Moments

8 Comments to Sabbath Moments

  1. I can certainly relate to your backyard war–as you well know! Good luck with your traps … and you are right,real and appropriate laughter is a gift from God!

  2. Holly@ALife-SizeCatholicBlog on June 16th, 2012
  3. Laughter, to me, is healing. Laughter that is appropriate, that is. Derisive laughter is something else again.
    Love your posts on humility. Good luck with the beetles!

  4. Colleen on June 16th, 2012
  5. We haven’t used those beetle traps in years. I remember my parents setting them up in our back yard when I was a child and seeing them fill up with those pesky critters. If only we could get “sin traps” to capture and eliminate ungodliness in our lives! But it’s not that simple. We have to cultivate discipline, using self-examination and taking the effort to change our thoughts, words, and behaviors. But it’s worth the effort!

    And I can see how, at first glance, Benedict’s admonition may seem to be a recipe for being nothing but a killjoy, always raining on everyone’s parade. However, it’s really all about the appropriate behavior at the appropriate time. As it says in Proverbs, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Then in Ecclesiastes we are reminded, “To everything there is a season…” Sometimes laughter is appropriate and healthy; other times we need to be serious. And even sadness/mourning has its place.

    And if someone is always clowning around, how can you take him seriously?

    A great reminder! And God bless you as you work to rid your yard of Japanese beetles and to rid your life of sin. (I may not have to deal with the former, but I’m always working on dealing with the latter!)

    Evan
    Evan recently posted..An Error Message not to Ignore

  6. Evan on June 16th, 2012
  7. We might have to try the traps, too. Love Evan’s take on it.

    I’ve also known people who can’t be serious. In fact, I can think of a couple I interact with regularly. And you’re right, it is maddening.
    Kathleen Basi recently posted..Sunday Snippets

  8. Kathleen Basi on June 17th, 2012
  9. Loved the sin/beetle analogy.

  10. RAnn on June 17th, 2012
  11. Love the analogy of killing beetles and sin. Fortunately, I haven’t had to battle beetles but you are right about the sin: we have to be ruthless!
    Carol@simple_catholic recently posted..Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (June 17, 2012)

  12. Carol@simple_catholic on June 17th, 2012
  13. Hi Barb, it’s amazing how out of control a bug problem can become just like sin. Must be vigilant as you said. We don’t have the beetle problem in my neck of the woods but I’d want to deal with it right away too.

    I was thinking about St. Benedict’s comments about laughter and it does make sense. I sometimes think that people become nervous and cover it with laughter because they don’t know what else to say or do! I do so dislike when there is a problem though, and a person smiles and laughs it off. No, address the problem and resolve it!
    Noreen Johnson recently posted..Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

  14. Noreen Johnson on June 17th, 2012
  15. Hi Barb,
    I’m another who loves the beetle analogy!

    Great post on the tenth degree of humility. Life is serious but a good laugh is nice now and then 🙂

    Good luck with those beetles!
    Mary recently posted..The Cost of a Soul

  16. Mary on June 19th, 2012

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