St Benedict of Nursia
“The good for all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend our faults and safeguard Love.”
According to Pope Gregory I (Benedict’s biographer), the first monks who tried to live under Benedict’s direction plotted to kill their abbot. They put poison in a glass of wine and offered it to Benedict. Before he took the wine, he blessed it. When he made the sign of the cross over the wine glass, it shattered and the wine spilled to the floor.
Benedict realized it had been poisoned so he called his monks together and forgave them. He advised them to “go your ways and seek and seek some other father suitable to your own conditions, for I intend not now to stay any longer amongst you.”
Years later when Benedict wrote a rule of life for another group of monks, it turned out to be a model of monastic moderation and one reason monastic monasticism blossomed in the west. It is a balanced approach to monastic life that I would wager was inspired by his former unsuccessful attempt at leading a monastery.
Besides the views of poverty, chastity and obedience it stressed communal living, physical labor, common meals and the avoidance of unnecessary conversation. The rule was tempered with compassion for the physically weak, and allowances for differences in age, dispositions and spiritual stature. He hoped to set up nothing harsh or burdensome. He also allowed for strictness noted in the quote at the top.
Today we have a model of the Benedictine monastery here in the Community of Devine Love. Brother Dennis and Sister Greta live by the Benedictine rule. They are “Black Monks” called so in St Benedicts day because the habits are Black. Coincidentally I read Brother Dennis’ reflection on monastic life in the CDL newsletter and he wrote about his daily life. I particularly liked this quote.
I want to dispel any notion that the monastery life is anything lofty, heroic, or mysterious. To the contrary, the monastic life is a simple and earnest pursuit of God.
- Brother Dennis
The fact that we are fortunate to see a monastery following the Benedictine rule in action is amazing to me and such a gift to this parish. They have helped me pursue God through example and teachings. They bring a richness to our parish of spirituality and service.