November 10, 2007

Bifocals Build Better Benedictine Behavior


My new bifocal eyeglasses are stronger than my previous ones.

The upper parts of the lenses help me see clearly things in the distance.
The lower parts of the lenses help my eyes focus more sharply when reading.

When walking, if I want to focus on the ground close in front of me, I must be careful not to focus merely my eyes alone on the ground, because then I would be looking through the lower parts of the lenses, and the result would be blurred.
Rather, I must actually BOW MY HEAD enough so that I am looking through the upper parts of the lenses, and then the ground close in front of me appears clearly.

If I want to look farther ahead of me, or into the distance, I must look through the upper parts of the lenses.
However, if I raise my head (as is natural when wanting to look into the distance), I must be careful not to raise it too high, because then I would be looking through the lower parts of the lenses, and distant things would be blurred.
Instead, to look into the distance I must keep my head either level or only barely BOWED DOWNWARDS so that I am looking through the upper parts of the lenses and thus able to see clearly into the distance.

Thus, my bifocal eyeglasses help me to put into practice what Saint Benedict teaches monks about humility.
The twelfth step of humility
is that a monk always manifests humility
in his bearing no less than in his heart,
so that it is evident at the Work of God,
in the oratory,
the monastery or the garden,
on a journey or in the field,
or anywhere else.
Whether he sits,
walks or stands,
HIS HEAD MUST BE BOWED AND HIS EYES CAST DOWN.
PSALM 130:1
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.


Not without bifocals to force the issue on this overly proud monk!


4 Comments:

Blogger gemoftheocean said...

Well, AFAIK Ben Franklin wasn't known for his piety, but apparently he's helped out a monk or two focus on what God wants. Who knew? :-D A salute to Ben Franklin. Statesman, inventor, and aid to the Benedictines! [Until this time, I had thought that at most he'd perhaps HAD a benedictine! [The DRINK!]

12:52 AM  
Blogger Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Hmmm.

It seems to brings a new meaning to "custody of the eyes".

I'm told the most difficult thing to do when wearing bifocals is to walk down stairs.

Be careful !

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an insight (no pun intended) about bifocals! I'm going to try and start thinking of mine as an aid to humility too.
Ann P.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Ann P.!

Please!
Intend the pun!

8:42 AM  

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