Friday, July 11, 2014

Hail, St. Benedict, founder of Western Monasticism

"Surrounded by his disciples Benedict in prayer passes from earth to heaven,"  
11th century miniature, Monte Cassino

St. Benedict (c. 480 AD - 543 AD), from an aristocratic family in Umbria, went to Rome as a young man to study, but soon fled that corrupt and licentious city to seek God in deserted places.   Many people quit school for one reason or another, but St. Benedict's decision to drop out had unusually far-reaching effects.   For the rest of his life, St. Benedict lived in communities of men also seeking holiness, and out of this experience Benedict formulated his great Rule, which has provided the framework for most monastic communities in the Catholic church for 15 centuries.  Since the influence of monasticism upon the Church and Western culture has been immense, St. Benedict can be considered one of the chief architects of Christendom, that great civilization which flowered in Europe for many centuries, and eventually spread its influence across the globe.  In recognition of this, St. John Paul II declared Benedict co-patron of Europe (along with Saints Cyril and Methodius, which makes them the co-co-patrons of Europe) in 1980.

Chapter XX of Benedict's Rule - Of Reverence at Prayer:

If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard. For this reason prayer ought to be short and pure, unless, perhaps it is lengthened by the inspiration of divine grace. At the community exercises, however, let the prayer always be short. . . .

St. Benedict's patronage is very extensive, and includes the following :
-Against poison
-Against witchcraft
-Agricultural workers
-Civil engineers
-Dying people
-Gall stones
-Heerdt (Germany)
-Heraldry and Officers of arms
-the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
-Inflammatory diseases
-Italian architects
-Kidney disease
-Nettle rash
-Norcia, (Italy)
-People in religious orders
-Servants who have broken their master's belongings

RELATED:  Benedictines v. Jesuits.   I'm with the Benedictines on this one.

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