4 September 2009

The Brief Rule of St Romuald

  1. Sit in your cell as in paradise
  2. Cast all memory of the world behind you
  3. Cautiously watch your thoughts, as a good fisherman the fish
  4. The way is via the psalms – do not leave it. If, in your beginner’s fervour, you fail to do the whole psalter, do a little here and a little there, studying each with your whole mind and spirit, and when your mind wanders during the reading - don’t quit, hurry to refocus
  5. Place yourself in the presence of God with fear and trembling, as if standing before the emperor
  6. Destroy yourself completely
  7. Sit like a baby chick, content with the grace of God, who, unless its mother gives it something, knows nothing and has nothing to eat
This Brief Rule is one of the key texts for the Camaldolese. I like it. It's simple, but profound. 'Cautiously watch your thoughts, as a good fisherman the fish' - that's really clever. I used to do a bit of fishing a long time ago, and I remember the attentiveness I had to have to the trout, watching where they were, guessing where they might be, predicting where I should place my lure to entice them - and the peace that came from that focus. Didn't really matter if I caught anything or not - it was the act of fishing that did it for me, that and hanging out in a really lovely place. Applying that imagery to watching one's thoughts (and I'd also add, one's tongue!) makes it really earthy. Very Franciscan, in some ways.
'Casting the memory of the world behind you' for me means when I'm praying, focusing entirely on that and 'watching my thoughts' to keep bringing them back. It also talks to me about not focusing on the things that most people obsess about, like clothes and appearance. 'The way is via the psalms' now makes a lot more sense that I'm digging into this more. They are an anchor.
But it's the last one I like most, that total falling into grace. The waiting of the dark time, hanging in there, praying, waiting alertly, knowing that Love will not leave me where I am, but bring me into the full light of life.

No comments: