Contemplation of the vastness and purity of the innate beauty of nature is medicine for the soul that draws us out of ourselves and closer to our loving God. Through this, we can experience what Br. Daniel Sokol, OSB, call, the “WOW Factor”:
We magnify this “WOW Factor” within by prayerfully appreciating passages of sacred scripture or the writings of the saints….When we deliberately engage the “WOW Factor” we build up our appreciation of God, and come to a more abundant sharing of His beneficent and healing graces. …We keep in mind that heaven will be filled with grateful people.
Here are some examples from the Rule of St. Benedict of how we can recognize and appreciate the multiform “WOW Factors” and holy powers contained therein. Each word or phrase has a powerful capacity to help us become more aware of, and engaged in the healing graces that God always offers to us, His beloved children.
Some of the “WOW” Factors found in the Rule of St. Benedict are:
- God’s Presence: When (a man) is to be received, he comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. This is done in the presence of God and his saints to impress on the novice that if he ever acts otherwise, he will surely be condemned by the one he mocks (RB 58:17-18).
- The Lord’s Power: These people fear the Lord, and do not become elated over their good deeds; they judge it is the Lord’s power, not their own, that brings about the good in them. They praise (Ps 14: 4) the Lord working in them, and say with the Prophet: Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone (Ps 113[115: 1]: 9) (Prol 30).
- Delightful Lord: What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life (RB Prol 19-20)?
- Thankfulness: Thanks to the help and guidance of many, they are now trained to fight against the devil (RB 1:4).
- Forgiveness: Reciting the entire Lord’s Prayer at the end [of Lauds and Vespers] for all to hear, because thorns of contention are likely to spring up. Thus warned by the pledge they make to one another in the very words of this prayer: Forgive us as we forgive (Matt 6:12), they may cleanse themselves of this kind of vice (RB 13:12-13).
- God’s Grace: What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace (RB Prologue 41).
- Reason and Humility: If any brother happens to make an unreasonable demand of him, he should not reject him with disdain and cause him distress, but reasonably and humbly deny the improper request (RB 31:7).
- Glory to God: They praise (Ps 14: 4) the Lord working in them, and say with the Prophet: Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone (Ps 113[115: 1]: 9) (RB Prol 30).
- Good Works and Humility: Only in this are we distinguished in his sight: if we are found better than others in good works and in humility (RB 2:21).
- Sufficiency: Whoever needs less should thank God and not be distressed, but whoever needs more should feel humble because of his weakness, not self-important because of the kindness shown him (RB 34:3-4).
- Delight in Virtue: Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue (RB 7:68-69).
- Zeal for God’s Honor: They may be sure that they will receive a generous reward for this, if they do it with pure motives and zeal for God’s honor (RB 72:3-6).
- Restraint of Speech: I said, I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue. I have put a guard on my mouth. I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good words (Ps 38:23) (RB 6:1).
- Genuine Peace: Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love (RB 4:25-26).
- Sense of the Sacred: He will regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar (RB 31:10).
- Everlasting Life: Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire (RB 4:46).
- Heartfelt Devotion: Pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion (RB 52:4).
- Blessings for Hardships: In truth, those who are patient amid hardships and unjust treatment are fulfilling the Lord’s command: When struck on one cheek, they turn the other; when deprived of their coat, they offer their cloak also; when pressed into service for one mile, they go two (Matt 5:3941). With the Apostle Paul, they bear with false brothers, endure persecution, and bless those who curse them (2 Cor. 11:26; 1 Cor 4:12) (RB 7:42-43).
From Br. Daniel Sokol, OSB, Prince of Peace Abbey, Oceanside, CA (email@example.com )