Brother ass

By: Simeon Dumdum Jr. September 27,2015 - 01:50 PM

illustration_27SEPT15_DUMDUM's ESSAY_renelevera_

Upon getting up and after two short prayers (Morning Offering, Angelus), I take four glasses of water, a routine advised by a friend, a priest, who himself practices it when he found that it cleared his joints of morning-after soreness.  I tried it and made a several discovery and thenceforth adopted the practice, vowing not to break it unless a long trip lay ahead and the road offered no facilities for the frequent passing of water.

The priest has given it a code name – Wanna BET?  The “T” stands for “tubig” (Cebuano for water), the “B” for Bible and the “E” for Exercise.  Which means that, aside from the four glasses of water, one must read a passage from the bible and work out.

He takes care of the “B” by sending a text message to his friends summarizing the scripture readings of the Mass for the day – short passages from the letters of St. Paul or the Old Testament and the Psalms, and from the Gospels. The recipients, myself included, may read the passages and employ the summary as guide in their daily Lectio Divina (Divine Reading), a monastic practice which uses Scriptural texts not for study so much as prayer, treating it as God’s living word, and which entails four steps: read, meditate, pray, contemplate – lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio.

As to exercise, basically just stretching and walking in place for close to half an hour, the wife and I do it together, because I need someone to do the counting

Somehow, this reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi, who called his body Brother Ass, and treated it accordingly, which like every beast of burden must receive what it needs to live and function – such as food, water and rest – but which because of its natural tendencies, its stubborn seeking of comfort, its recalcitrance towards the striving for lofty non-material goals, needs discipline, a firm hand to put it in constant service of the spirit.

Every morning, I bring Brother Ass to the watering hole so it can have its fill of water, but after that I must keep it still while I meditate and pray on the word of God. Then I exercise to keep Brother Ass in serviceable shape.

The offer of water I consider an act of kindness to a brother, no matter if he goes by the name of Brother Ass. Jesus said, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”  Jesus meant those we consider the least – the children, the helpless, the needy, those who in their littleness have no right to ask for more than a cup of water to quench their thirst.  One may deny food to another no matter how famished but not a glass of water.

Hydration ranks among the very few primary needs of the human body. Nobody can live more than three to five days without taking water.

I feel that, in saying that those who give a drink to someone because he belongs to Christ will not lose their reward, the Lord gave water a sacramental nature – he made it a source of grace.

So, of the three – Bible, Exercise, Water – the last does not rank the least.  Because all the reading that I do of the Bible and all the meditating and praying and contemplating, as well as all the physical exertions for endurance and strength and balance and flexibility, will amount to nothing unless I show kindness to others, even if only to such as Brother Ass, whom, when assailed by temptation, St. Francis threw into a ditch full of snow and plunged into a briar patch and rolled about until he was torn and bleeding, and from whom, before he died, the saint asked forgiveness.

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