Friday, July 11, 2008

Saint Benedict

Today' is the feast day of Saint Benedict of Nursia, well known for his famous Rule. It is often remarked that the true hallmark of this rule is its moderation and balance. Here's a wonderful passage:

This rule is a school for learning God’s ways. It was meant to be gentle, not harsh or burdensome. If it seems a little strict at times, try to remember its purpose — to heal faults and safeguard love. Do not grow afraid of its discipline and run away, for these teachings are a road to inner freedom and peace.

Rule of Benedict

Here's something else about the Rule:

The wisdom of Benedict's Rule lies in its flexibility, its tolerance for individual differences, and its openness to change. For over 1500 years, it has remained a powerful and relevant guide for those who would seek God in the ordinary circumstances of life.

When Benedict wrote his Rule, society seemed to be falling apart. Though materially prosperous, the Roman Empire was in a state of decline. After Benedict's death, barbarian hordes would overrun Europe and the very survival of Western civilization would be called into question. Benedictine monasteries—with their message of balance and moderation, stability, hospitality, and stewardship—were credited with the preservation of Western culture, and Benedict himself was named patron of Europe.

-- Sr. JM McClure, OSB

As a solitary myself, I often find myself reminding people that Benedict started out as a hermit and was later prevailed upon by other monks to abandon his solitude in order to lead them. Both expressions of monasticism are important: the solitary life and life in community.

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