Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hail, Benedict, Abbot and Father of Monasticism

 St. Benedict delivering his Rule to monks

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 543 AD).  Born to a noble Roman family in Umbria, St. Benedict was studying in Rome in preparation for a career suitable to his class and station when, as a very young man, and perhaps even a teenager, he abandoned his studies and retired from the city to seek a quiet place where he might serve God.    St. Benedict established his hermitage near Subiaco, north of Rome, and eventually his reputation for holiness drew to St. Benedict many others likewise seeking to serve God.  St. Benedict would go on to found twelve monasteries in the vicinity of Subiaco, including the great monastery of Monte Cassino.   The monks were laymen, not clerics, and to govern their communities St. Benedict composed his famous Rule.   The Rule is notable for practical and spiritual wisdom, as well as moderation and simplicity.   Even today, St. Benedict's Rule is used to govern many religious congregations.

From the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict:

We are about to open a school for God's service, in which we hope nothing harsh or oppressive will be directed. For preserving charity or correcting faults, it may be necessary at times, by reason of justice, to be slightly more severe.  Do not fear this and retreat, for the path to salvation is long and the entrance is narrow.

As our lives and faith progress, the heart expands, and with the sweetness of love we move down the paths of God's commandments.  Never departing from His guidance, remaining in the monastery until death, we patiently share in Christ's passion, so we may eventually enter into the Kingdom of God.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

UPDATE:  A Benedictine monastery in Benedict's birthplace has started brewing beer.

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