. . . you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. (Col. 3:9b-10)
He will regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected. (Rule of St. Benedict 31.10-11)
Once upon a time I used to work in a gym. Maintaining the equipment and keeping the bathrooms clean was the less glamorous side of the job. The owner-manager of the gym was a perfectionist when it came to rendering good, quality service to his clientele through keeping things spotless. A fellow trainer told me the owner-manager would often get down on the floor to see if hidden spots under cabinets, fixtures, and equipment had been dusted, cleaned, and polished. I have a bit of that perfectionist in myself as well. Whether I am serving as sacristan for our chapel or wiping down the counter and sink in the formation kitchenette, I want to leave behind a clean, tidy, and polished workspace for the next person who uses it. It is both stewardship as well as hospitality to those who come after me. St. Benedict’s Rule regards nothing as insignificant or of less value when considered as grace and gift from God. To paraphrase an old Hindu saying, we are called to wise stewardship because what we use today has only been borrowed from those who will come after us. Cleaning and polishing our things and workspaces is more than a simple act of stewardship, though. Attending, with consideration, to the gifts and people around us creates a renewed and welcome space within ourselves for the Spirit of God to dwell and to act. When we realize all is a “sacred vessel of the altar,” our humility before God and our caring respect for material goods and people preserves what matters most: our hearts.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges. View all of Sister Ann Marie’s blogs.