Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Guest-Blogging, Feast Day Edition

Icon written by Sr. Mary Charles McGough and explained here.
Post written by wonderful friend, confrere, and frequent commenter ~ Jeana
Feast of Saint Benedict
Founder of the Benedictine Order and Father of Western Monasticism

Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then, is the good zeal which members must foster with fervent love: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other” (Rom. 12:10), supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No monastics are to pursue what they judge better for themselves, but instead, what they judge better for someone else. Among themselves they show the pure love of sisters and brothers; to God, reverent love; to their prioress or abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.

~ Rule of Benedict, Chapter 72: The Good Zeal of Monastics

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order and the Father of Western Monasticism. Living from about 480 – 547, St. Benedict lived first as a hermit, and then in community with others seeking God. After years of experience leading others, he gathered the wisdom of the various monks who had gone before him and wrote his Rule. In it, he mitigated many of the harsher practices which had been part of the desert and Irish ascetics’ lives; St. Benedict believed that the everyday living in community could be itself an equally formative kind of asceticism.

In this penultimate chapter of his Rule, St. Benedict lays out the terrain of monastic life and the goal: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior … Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” We are to love God and our neighbor. We are to love Christ through our neighbor. We are to love our neighbor out of love for Christ, fervently.

Though we are fully capable of nurturing bitter zeal, our angry thoughts, our critical judgments, our resentful feelings, St. Benedict reminds us that we are called to higher things. We are called to seek God with all the good zeal that is in us. We are called to love.

Of course we’re all beginners, and none of this happens overnight, but thanks be to God for giving us such a practical, humble, and yet inspiring guide.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kiker said...

What a beautiful rule to base one's life upon.

(Yes, I still check in every day... I know you are going to crawl out from under that stack of papers soon...) ;)

3/21/2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger *Christopher said...

I thought his feast day was July 11? Is this a day celebrated amongst Benedictines? As we have a local calendar different from the Roman one, I thought I'd check.

3/21/2006 5:15 PM  
Anonymous jeana said...

You're right- he also has a feast day July 11. Today marks the day of his passing; the July date celebrates a transfer of his relics (from where to where I'm not sure). Generally the July date tends to get more hoopla, simply because it isn't in Lent. We certainly celebrate among the Benedictines, though, both times! (And a feast day feels more feasty during a fast season...)

3/21/2006 7:12 PM  

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