Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
July 9, 2006
Appreciating St. Benedict As a child I attended a Catholic school under the patronage of a saint named St. Benedict. Since it was a parochial school, the parish was under the same patronage. I was always disappointed with having to be associated with a name that was not “popular”. The surrounding parishes all seemed to be luckier than us. Names such as St. Joseph, St. Patrick, The Guardian Angels, St. Anne, etc all seemed much more important and definitely more popular. How did we manage to get “stuck” with a St. Benedict?
Many years later I have come to realize that I was seriously mistaken and extremely ignorant in the area of Church History. As is evident, our present Pope sees the significance of Benedict’s contribution to our history in much greater depth than I did as a child.
This week, July 11, we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict. If that means very little to many people, perhaps they should take a little time to deepen their knowledge of this great saint. Benedict was born in the 6th century. He was the son of a prosperous business man and was brought up in the large city of Rome. He was very well educated and had the opportunity to succeed his father in the family business. He had at least one sister, Scholastica, whom many say was his twin sister, although this is debated. Like her brother, she dedicated her life to God and was canonized a saint.
Benedict is best known for the writing of his Rule of St. Benedict. Although the rule was not totally original, ( Benedict borrowed elements from other rules including the Rule of the Master), his rule became very popular and was adopted by most Monasteries in the Western World. This rule, having been adapted for contemporary times, is still in use today. The effect of his rule earned him the title of Father of Western Monasticism.
One very important element of Benedict’s rule is that it is still relevant today. Even more importantly, it is a rule that can be observed, with restrictions, by the laity as well as religious communities. Contrary to popular belief, this rule does not stress harsh discipline or asceticism. Rather it stresses the idea that we should seek God in all we do including, prayer, reading, work, and service to one another. The Benedictine Rule stresses hospitality to all who come to visit whether announced or invited or not. The Rule was written with the intention of giving a healthy balance to life. Even monks were not expected to spend their entire day praying. They were
expected to work and relate to one another. Benedict understood that human relationships were very important to good emotional and psychological health.
Today, the world is blessed with many Benedictine Monasteries. Many of the monks work as teachers, thus helping the people to become more familiar with the true meaning of the Gospels. Here in New Hampshire, we are blessed with the presence of Benedictines at St. Anselm’s College. Their spirit of prayer and hospitality attract many in the area to join them in prayer and fellowship on a regular basis. Their peace filled monastery is a true blessing to the Manchester diocese. Perhaps we could all benefit from deepening our knowledge of this very significant person in our church history. I thank God I have come to see the truth of the matter.
Lorette P. Nault