And he received this brief rule from Master Romuald, which he was very careful to practice throughout his life:
1. Sit in the cell as in paradise;
2. cast all memory of the world behind you;
3. cautiously watching your thoughts, as a good fisher watches the fish.
4. In the Psalms there is one way. Do not abandon it. If you who have come with the fervor of a novice cannot understand everything, strive to recite with understanding of spirit and mind, now here, now there, and when you begin to wander while reading, do not stop, but hasten to correct yourself by concentrating.
5. Above all, place yourself in the presence of God with fear and trembling, like someone who stands in the sight of the emperor;
6. destroy yourself completely,
7. and sit like a chick, content with the grace of God, for unless its mother gives it something, it tastes nothing and has nothing to eat.
In summary, Saint Romuald ’ s seven-step Brief Rule for novice-hermits comprises a surprisingly rich set of exercises for training in contemplation which succinctly cover the following topics:
(1) posture, place, solitude, inner peace, and joy;
(2) detachment and liberation for concentration;
(3) self-observation and analysis for purity of mind and heart;
(4) attentively praying the Psalms as seeds of meditation;
(5) reverent, compunctious practice of the presence of God;
(6) intensive ascetical inner overcoming of faults;
(7) childlike humility and receptivity to grace.
If this summary strikes the reader as rather modern and up-to-date, there is a simple explanation: the basic process of the inner Christian reform as lived and transmitted by Anthony, Romuald, Francis, and Charles de Foucauld is a permanent fixture, like the death and resurrection of Christ, which does not change with passing trends in spirituality.
By radiantly living and teaching the powerful principles of his Brief Rule, Saint Romuald made a major contribution to the spiritual health of the Church in the West, because he renewed in it that essential element of its inner life: the contemplative, semi-eremitical small community. Today his sons are continuing to make that healing gift to the House and People of God.
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