Daily Reading for July 14
There can be no more role-playing for those who attempt to follow the rule of St Benedict, no more hiding behind a mask. We stand daily before God with empty hands, just like the publican. “Suspice me, accept me O Lord as you have promised and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.” These are the words the novice says on entering the community. They are words that I come back to, time and again, as a prayer for myself. They mean more now that I have learnt that the Latin words comes from the verb sub-capere, to take underneath and so with the idea of supporting, raising, and that in Roman usage it was the word for a father taking up a new-born infant from the ground and thus recognizing it as his own. The implication here then becomes one of acceptance and thus of survival.
So when I say suspice me it conveys the full depth and warmth of that word. Accept me, receive me, support me, raise me up—wonderful singing words that say everything that I want to say as a prayer for myself. They are words that I understand at one level today, as I say them now, and as I present myself today before God. But they are also like some Eastern koan in which the full mystery of what I am saying will only gradually unfold and grow as my own fortune opens up before me.
For the self that I present full face to God is not anything static. If I ask God to accept me as I am now, in the present, I am also able to receive whatever he has in store for me in the future. If I really hand myself over, making an act of personal surrender, asking God to accept me just as I am now, open, vulnerable, powerless, then I shall also be able to receive whatever he has in store for me in the future.
From Living With Contradiction: Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Harper and Row, 1989).