The Solemnity of Benedict
Proverbs 2: 1 – 9, Col 3: 12 – 17, Matthew 19: 27 – 29.
Any day is a great time to celebrate St. Benedict. He gave us a rule for monks and a Rule of life.
The Benedictine way – the way to be for God, to live our life in the Lord Jesus.
It’s been 1500 years of Benedictine opportunity in the world. It’s successful because God is the center and since God is a God who walks with us, with all humanity through history, Benedictine life is valid and meaningful for so many and always. So, we celebrate Benedict and his rule living in the hearts and lives of countless men and women through the ages.
The Rule of Benedict can change the world as it changes the lives of all who live it. It does so because the Benedictine charism, when lived, brings Christ into the world. This spirituality brings truly welcoming hospitality, peace, supports justice , nonviolence, as this charism serves the church and the world. For what is the purpose of finding ourselves, living our call to embody Benedictine spirituality, if not to then give ourselves away? To love unconditionally , no matter the cost, is truly living Benedictine spirituality.
And even more, Benedicts rule lived, invited monks of a Benedictine monastery in Molesme to leave their house and found a new monastery in Citeaux to become the Cistercians who live his rule more strictly.
These monks knew it would lead them to where they wanted to go. To a deeper life in God with simplicity in community. So, our order was founded and in a few decades was so successful that 500 monasteries thrived all over Europe.
Our Cistercian chrism nourished the hearts and souls of the people of God in the 12th and 13th
Centuries and right up to our present day. So, we truly give thanks to St. Benedict who gave us our rule and to those monks who sought to live it through the ages.
Jesus is the gospels promises a new life for those who dedicate their lives to him. The Benedictine rule helps us to let go of all things for God- to do as Jesus invites us – the rule does make saints. And now Benedictine monks today are seeking to continue that blessing . The pressures and constraints of our lives are real. They are complex in today’s world. How do we come at these challenges from a place of understanding rather than fear, of knowing that our fulfillment is not in conflict with the demands of faith? But in balance with the values of Christ lived through prayer and a contemplative approach to life.
The commitment to community teaches us the value of not running from self but working through the challenges and disagreements that we recognize are demanding us every day to find solutions in our Church and in society at large. We do it by holding on to the vision of our Cistercian spiritualty rooted in humility and love.
We are here to be Christ in the world in living our charism and values faithfully. The monastery seeks to contribute to the quality of life of all those who come to share a time with us. And indeed, of all creation as we share God’s love to all we meet.
Benedictine spirituality in the Cistercian way is a life-long commitment to the counter-cultural. One of prayer, of solitude and silence that refreshes the soul and gives new life to the way forward.
Our history goes deep and holds a timeless collective wisdom that is needed today.
St. Benedict is the patron of Europe for that very reason. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI named him again to guide the renewal of Europe and the Church. We have learned that our Cistercian charism reaches across religions and faith traditions as well as generations.
Our Cistercian charism brings men and women wholly given to the endeavor of seeking God in and through Jesus Christ to fulfill their call to holiness.
It seems to me that today is a moment to recommit ourselves to that unique and wonderful but challenging prospect of union with God. And each of us in our own way can make that prayer to our Lord Jesus to accompany us on this journey. A way of life of hiddenness, of solitude and silence. Of hidden apostolic fruitfulness by our prayer and silent witness to Jesus. Becoming a sacrifice of Praise to God.
What a life we lead. A lifelong conversion to live the virtues named by St. Paul today: “kindness, humility, meekness and patience all bound together in community by love.” This is our lifelong commitment to be Christ for the world. So, we are invited to reflect on our life together seeking to be consistence in our prayer practice, our lectio Divina, work and how we serve one another by paying attention to our solitude and silence, that space of quiet, so to be attentive to God within.
As the Proverbs reading stirs us to live the gifts of the Spirit so that we can truly be those witnesses to Christ we seek to be. This ongoing conversion into Christ is the life of the monk and, of course, the reality of the life for every Christian. So, we celebrate our St. Benedict who has showed us a way forward in our Christian life.