Today is the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia (480?-543) who is credited with bringing monasticism to the Western Hemisphere. Drawn to the monastic life, Benedict tried being a hermit but others were drawn to him and he began to imagine a community life where “various families of monks gathered together in one ‘Grand Monastery’ to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity and permanent worship in one house.” (www.americancatholic.org) The structure that Benedict created – a balance of prayer, study, manual labor and community – has endured and flourished for 1500 years and has become a model for people seeking to live a balanced spiritual life. Not only is the rule of St. Benedict followed by women and men monastics the world over, but in our time there are new movements of “monasteries without walls” where lay people endeavor to live in the spirit of Benedict, gathering on a regular basis to strengthen their own prayer and balanced living practice. In addition to the four elements noted above which create a rhythm for each day, those who follow Benedict are steeped in the practice of hospitality, especially to travelers.
As I face today, I am grateful for Benedict and all those who follow his rule. I will observe my living of the four quadrants of prayer, study, labor and community as they are present in my day and endeavor to maintain that sense of balance as I interact with the workshop participants who have graced our Spiritual Center this weekend.