On July 11, we celebrated the feast of St. Benedict, who is regarded as the founder of Western Monasticism in the beginning of the 6th century. Those who travel to Italy often visit one of the most famous monasteries he founded: Monte Cassino. Although I am not a Benedictine I would like to draw three points from Benedictine spirituality that can benefit all of us living in the 21st century.
First of all, Benedict stressed the wisdom that comes from the profound awareness of God in our lives. Every day we should ask God to give us wisdom so that we have have a taste for that which is divine, for that which is good, true and beautiful. The Latin word ‘sapientia’ comes from ‘sabor’ meaning to taste as when one smacks ones lips with delight . The wise (sapiential) person smacks his or her lips with delight at the presence of God.Secondly, Benedict had a balanced approach setting time for prayer and work. When we are rushing from one activity to another it is difficult to gather our thoughts and to reflect on what makes for good decisions, to think what we are about in life.Thirdly Benedict allowed room for growth. Monasticism calls for ‘perfection,’ but not without accepting our weaknesses and human limitations. Benedict had a great sense of God meeting us where we are and helping us to grow in spiritual stature.It would be good for all of us if we had a new appreciation for the gift of wisdom, if we worked to balance our lives with prayer and work, if we accepted our limitations with a desire to grow in spiritual stature. There is so much room within each of us for wisdom, prayer, good works and spiritual growth if we but give God a chance.