Unlike most of those holy people we call saints, the influence of Benedict (c. 480 – c.547), whom we celebrate today, has been constant in the Western world of monasticism for over 1500 years. In fact, Benedict’s influence in the wider world of spirituality is now likely more expansive than ever before. Groups are forming and calling themselves “monasteries without walls,” living life “in the world” while following the tenets of the Benedictine rule. People are in search of a model for living that calls to mindfulness and a balanced way of being that fits into “real life” – not necessarily hidden away in a monastery. They are finding such a way with Benedict.
Twenty years ago Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister wrote a book entitled, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today. It is a simple, straightforward work on how to live every day mindfully with examples of how to balance work and rest, community and silence, and much more… examples that can relate to all of us. Sister Joan has a paragraph that sums it up quite well and is easily explicable, I think, to anyone who desires a closer relationship to God while living in any lifestyle today.
And so Benedict calls all of us to mindfulness. No life is to be so busy that there is no time to take stock of it. No day is to be so full of business that the gospel dare not intrude. No schedule is to be so tight that there is no room for reflection on whether what is being done is worth doing at all. No work should be so all-consuming that nothing else can ever get in: not my husband, not my wife, not my hobbies, not my friends, not nature, not reading, not prayer. How shall we ever put on the mind of Christ if we never take time to determine what the mind of Christ was then and is now, for me? (p. 105)