“Someone complained to Meister Eckhart that no one could understand his sermons. He said, To understand my sermons a man requires three things:
- He must have conquered strife and be in contemplation of his highest good and be satisfied to do God’s bidding, and
- be a beginner with beginners and naught himself, and
- be so master of himself as to be incapable of anger.”
I’ve been mulling these points over – taking stock, so to speak. I do believe that I am in contemplation of my highest good (and others’ highest good), and strive to bring that contemplation into action in my day-to-day life. My life’s purpose now is to do God’s bidding, and I pray for and accept the graces He gives me every day to hear what He is telling me and to follow through on it to the best of my ability.
Regarding being a “beginner with beginners” but not a beginner oneself, I’m not sure if I’m correctly understanding the point Meister Eckhart is making, but this is the way I’m interpreting it: I pray that the Holy Spirit always fills me and guides me when someone who is a beginner in the spiritual life approaches me for help. I hope I can imitate Jesus in this, in that Jesus always meets us exactly where we are. I desire to always have the positive aspects of a beginner in anything – openmindedness, enthusiasm, and a willingness to be taught.
Now, if I say that I am not a beginner in the spiritual life myself, is this a sign of pride? I don’t think so. I think if I were to say I was a beginner, it would be like denying everything the Lord has given me, and all the years He’s worked with me and everything He’s taught me: directly, through the Church, and through my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are supposed to be growing steadily in holiness. If I were at the same level of holiness as I was ten years ago, or even last year, that would mean there was something dreadfully wrong with my relationship with God – something drastically wrong in the love department.
I have certainly not “conquered strife”. I do my best to create a tranquil environment at home and at the office, but I am thwarted at every turn. :) Seriously though, it is my own reaction to strife that is the real problem – fear/anxiety, rebelliousness, impatience – any reactions like these need to
be transformed into peaceful ones. A scented candle just won’t do the trick.
But I do see some progress along these lines; I either realize immediately afterwards that I have failed, or sometimes even as I am in the midst of a reaction, instead of much later as it used to be. Conversely, when I do succeed in meeting a stressful situation with a sense of peace and calm, and am also sometimes able to transmit that peace and calm to others, I am immediately aware that this is what Jesus is aiming at for me. So I’m praying that it won’t be much longer before this becomes natural (supernatural?) and consistent. But I am definitely not “incapable of anger”, much to my chagrin. I take this one to confession with me all the time. But I’m trying, and as I pray for seven virtues everyday (faith, hope, charity, humility, patience, perseverence and obedience), I always remind the Holy Spirit that I need extra for charity and patience. I am confident He will not let me down, if I do my part.
Quote taken from the beginning of: The Sermons and Collations of Meister Eckhart.