Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Charism of Saint Benedict

This Tuesday, September 8, the Feast of the Birth of Mary, will be the first anniversary of our monastic community taking on the black scapular as a sign of placing ourselves beneath the patronage and teaching of Saint Benedict. We are not Benedictines but have chosen the Rule of Saint Benedict as our guide and spirit in living our monastic consecration.

Pope Benedict XVI recently made a pilgrimage to Monte Cassino, the Benedictine Abbey that is the site of Saint Benedict's tomb. He met with representatives from the Benedictine Order, monks and nuns, from throughout the world. Over the course of the next week, I would like to share some important points and insights of the Holy Father's talk to these assembled monastics.


To live no longer for ourselves but for Christ: this is what gives full meaning to the life of those who let themselves be conquered by Him. This is clearly demonstrated by the human and spiritual life of Saint Benedict who, having abandoned all things, set out to follow Jesus Christ faithfully. Embodying the Gospel in his life, he became the pioneer of a vast movement of spiritual and cultural rebirth in the West...

...[W]e read in the biography [authored by Saint Gregory the Great] that, while leaning out of the window,'his eyes fixed on the stars and wrapt in divine contemplation, the Saint felt that his heart was burning...for him the starry firmament was like the embroidered curtain that veiled the Holy of Holies. At a certain point, his soul felt transported to the other side of the veil, to contemplate the unveiled Face of the One who dwells in inaccessible brightness'(A.I. Schuster. Storia di san Benedetto e dei suoi tempi, Ed. Abazzia di Viboldone, Milan, 1965, p. 11 and ff)..."

Saint Benedict did not of course receive this divine gift to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, but rather so that the charism with which God had endowed him might enable him to reproduce in the monastery the very life of Heaven and to re-estabish the harmony of creation through contemplation and work. Rightly, therefore, the Church venerates him as 'an eminent teacher of monastic life' a 'doctor of spiritual wisdom in his love of prayer and work'; a 'luminous guide of the peoples to the light of the Gospel' who 'lifted up to Heaven on a shining path,' teaches men and women of all epochs to seek GOd and the eternal riches prepared by Him"(Preface of the Saint in the monastic supplement to MR, 1980, 153).

Saint Benedict, Father of Monastic Life, pray for us!

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