Passing St. Benedict – March 21, 2015
…”Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my names’ sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.” My guess is that when Benedict left his home in Nursia, Italy in fifth century for Rome, he never dreamt that he would be the leader of a new monastic movement to sweep the world with a storm of new disciples. As the Father of Western monasticism, he lived a faithful life following Jesus’ message and encouraging others to do the same.
The hallmarks of St. Benedict’s communities were moderation and an awareness of the frailties of humanity. Yet, St. Benedict did not make it easy for his followers: he expected them to live in community and to live in harmony and love without murmuring. “His Rule dealt with stewardship, relationships, authority…, balance, work, simplicity, prayer and spiritual and psychological development. Its strength, therefore, is that it’s both fresh and ancient, current and tried …its currency lies in the fact that Benedict’s spirituality offers more a way of life and an attitude of mind”, says Joan Chittister.
Today’s world needs communities and their meaning more than ever. Pope Francis’ letter on the Year of Consecrated Life states, “In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters….So be… women of communion! Sisters in Christ, we are a sign of hope in this fractured world. We are a sign of unity; a sign that proclaims what that Gospel promises today. We are and have received the hundredfold and eternal life by the way we have laid down our lives for others.”
Pope Francis states “This hope (of ours) is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but on the One in whom we have put our trust, the One for whom “nothing is impossible”. Our hope is in the One who Benedict followed over 1,500 years ago. The One who lives among us in this community; “Where two or three are gathered, there I am”. (Mt. 18-:20)
Clare Carr, OSB-Prioress