July 21, 2013
Some days ago we celebrated the Feast Day of one of the most influential persons for shaping modern Europe, St. Benedict of Nursia. In fact, he was called the Father of Europe because of the influence his Rule had on the entire culture of Europe.
For me the spirituality of the Rule of Benedict does not so much serve as a manual of ascetical principles, but rather as a way of being both in the world and relating to that same world. Some authors affirm that Benedictine spirituality is a spirituality for the 21st century. Why? Because with the concerns of our time--service and relating to our neighbor, authority, life in community, work, humility and prayer—Benedictine spirituality is more a way of life, a manner of living and of a mental mindset than it is a set of norms. The Rule of Benedict contains a logic for everyday life.
“The Lord seeking his workman in a multitude of people, calls out to him again: Is there anyone who yearns for life and desires to see good days? If you hear this and your answer is I do, God then directs these words to you. If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. . . . What dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel as our guide.”
In this brief text from the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict (vv. 14-21), we clearly see that the Benedictine spirituality, mentioned earlier, is a way of being and acting with God and with others, using the means of small acts of loving kindness, guarding our tongue from evil, our lips from falsehood. We are to turn away from evil and do good, letting peace be our quest and aim.
St. Benedict was born around 480 and died in 547 A.D. He grew up in a well-off and pious family. However seeing the moral disorder of his time, he decided to go to the secluded wilderness east of Rome. There, in Subiaco, he founded his first communities. There is still a monastery there today, as well as a tourist site. From that time we see how St. Benedict has established a model of equilibrium of work and prayer. The consequences today of not safeguarding this balance of work and prayer are grace.
Prior Orlando Perez