Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the back of our church, we have the statues of two of the greatest saints: St. Francis and St. Benedict. I chose these two statues to honor our two most recent popes, but also because both Benedict and Francis brought renewal and reform to the church and the world when the days seemed very dark.
St. Benedict lived in the sixth century and St. Francis in the thirteenth. For the next few weeks, I would like to share with you the principles of the life and spirituality of St. Benedict. These letters gather the basic thoughts that I delivered to the parish during the Sunday morning Advent course. The series on St. Benedict will take us into the first weeks of Lent.
St. Benedict was born into a well to do family in 486. He was sent to Rome to study, but was disgusted by the decadence and lax practice of the faith. The Roman Empire was crumbling into chaos at the time and one of the responses of Christians was monasticism
The first monks were hermits in the Egyptian desert, but by Benedict’s time most monks were living in community. Still in his early twenties, Benedict set out to live the life of prayer and solitude, but was soon asked to take charge of a monastery. It was from this experience that he eventually founded his own communities and wrote his famous Rule.
The Rule of St. Benedict is a practical document to order the life of a monastic community in the sixth century. It is also a fount of wisdom and practical spirituality that has guided Christians for 1500 years.
Most of all, the Rule gives us basic guidelines for a Christian life that is deeply rooted in tradition, prayer and learning. The Benedictine life is an important anchor during troubling times, and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you the basic structures of this life so that we can pattern our own parish community according to the timeless wisdom of St. Benedict.