St. Benedict (c. 480 – c. 547) is credited with bringing monasticism to the West. After more than 1500 years, his influence is still felt around the world in monasteries and over the past half-century it has been growing as well in “monasteries without walls.” This movement is a resurgence of the desire in “ordinary people” for a deeper spiritual life and is characterized by attention practices and balanced living, not only for monastics but for lay people as well.
At the heart of Benedictine life is mindfulness and a spirit of hospitality. It has been described with a simple daily formula of four quadrants: prayer alone and prayer together, work alone and work together. Someone once asked where leisure comes in that description and the answer was that if one divides the circle of the day and writes in all that has taken place, the entire circle should be a leisurely and peaceful walk through the hours.
Many authors have written on this topic – none better than Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, especially in her book, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today. This feast reminds me to return, not only to Sr. Joan’s book but also to the practice of drawing that circle each day, where I can assess the balance of my life’s activities and get back to a mindful way of being. Simple? Yes, but not always easy. Worthwhile? Always…as a lifelong daily practice…Oh, yes!