Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

01 January 2013


The other day I had the privilege of attending and offering prayers for the "Court of Honor" (induction ceremony) for an Eagle Scout in our parish.  This young man assists us as a sacristan: he prepares the vessels and vestments for weekend Masses.  He began serving at the Altar a couple of years ago, and now his younger brother has followed suit.  (Incidentally, his two older brothers are also Eagle Scouts, and that younger brother undoubtedly is on the same path!)  We can rejoice in knowing that one more young man among us has proved worthy of this honor, and has placed himself at the service of his God and country.

As the Chartered Organization Representative for our parish units, I ensure that the troop and pack have a safe and welcoming place for their activities.  I also review and sign leadership applications, assist in counseling for religious awards, and stop in on events.

I can attest that our adults are competent leaders and--no surprise--our scouts are being formed in that vein.  Our troop turns out a number of Eagle Scouts each year, and the neighboring troop (to which the boy above belongs) does likewise.
I was never involved in scouting as a lad.  Separation anxiety got the better of me, along with a typical flare-up of "Why Even Try?" Syndrome.  Since that time, however, I gained profound appreciation for what the Boy and Girl Scouts do with our young people.  The seminary provides similar perks: discipline, practical skills, character formation, love of ritual, camaraderie, meals.  One way or another, I got what I needed!  
A number of our diocesan priests are Eagle Scouts.  In conversation with our scouts, it's always neat to bring out the connections between Scouting and the Priesthood; God knows that both "organizations" can use efforts for recruitment and retention.
Anyhow, here is a napkin from the Court of Honor, which features the Eagle medal and the twelve points of the Scout Law:

The question came to me, "What is the root of the word 'scout'?"  So I did what every word geek with a smartphone would do.

Curiosity Built The App
The deepest root, auscultare, immediately brought me back to the prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict:
Obsculta, o fili, praecepta magistri, et inclina aurem cordis tui, et admonitionem pii patris libenter excipe et efficaciter comple, ut ad eum per oboedientiae laborem redeas, a quo per inoboedientiae desidiam recesseras. (Text citation)
Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).  Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience. (Text citation)
*(OK--so it starts "obsculta."  I'm no scholar, but I don't think there's much difference.  I'm not letting this whole article dissolve on account of a bloody particle.)

And what does "auscultate" mean?  Glad you asked.  To listen for the sake of making a medical diagnosis--ultimately, from the Latin auris (ear).  Listening in general is more than the "hearing" that children offer to their parents' call ("'Yeah, I hear ya!' Chris said, and summarily rolled over, to get as close to oversleeping as possible.")  Listening for diagnosis involves engagement of the whole self, intuition included: "What is really going on here?"

A scout's attentiveness enables him to "be prepared" for whatever instructions may follow, whatever nature sounds he may expect to hear, or which scout is out to capture the same flag as he is.  The constant next step of the scout's auscultation is, "What must I do now?"  The scout can have no desidia, no sluggishness that would hinder him from the prompt action that his goals require.

Who among us would not profit from a recommitment to kindness, thriftiness, cleanliness, reverence, loyalty, and all the rest?

We can take our cue from the scout, whose obedience to good direction sets him on the path to the twelve apostolic virtues that his Law dictates and to which his Oath forever binds him.

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