Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'm Grateful for Benedict

Today is the feast day of Benedict of Nursia. While Monasticism existed before Benedict, under his guidance, insight and wisdom the great tradition of the western monastic life was formed.

Last October I became a monk. I didn't move into a monastery or cloister - I am married, have four kids and have a job after all! Instead I joined a religious community called the Company of Jesus. The Company is made up of folks who follow the way of St. Francis or the way of St. Benedict. I follow Benedict.

Now you might find yourself thinking, "Why doesn't he just follow the way of Christ?" That's a good question. The answer, I think, is as simple as recognizing that all of us who follow Jesus follow him and work out the salvation received from him along the lines of different traditions. The way of Benedict is one way of following Jesus.

For me, following the way of Benedict has given me an ethos that guides my life in Christ. At the heart of the ethos is that all of life - especially the everyday and mundane - is the grist for Christlikeness. The tag line Benedictines use is "ora et labora" - prayer and work. We see our life in Christ as a simple rhythm of daily prayer whereby - at its heart we listen to God and the work we have for that day offered to God. By work, we mean more than the job we go to. It means cooking supper, cleaning dishes, mowing the lawn, reading to the kids, etc. All the tasks God has given me in the context of my vocation - all these are the place where I follow Christ. These things, then, are animated by prayer - both times of structured prayer through the day and the moment by moment prayer and listening that is the norm for a disciple of Jesus.

Like I said, I am grateful for Benedict. His way is God's way for me to follow Christ.

Almighty God, by whose grace St. Benedict our Father, kindled with the fire of Your love became a burning and shining light in the church, inflame us with the same Spirit of discipline and love, that we may walk before You as children of light through Jesus Christ our Lord. +Amen

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