BENEDICTINE SPIRITUALITY

Benedict (c.480-547) lived in 6th-Century Italy when the great Roman Empire was disintegrating. Seeking order amidst chaos in the unsettled strife-torn country, he was inspired to write “a little Rule for beginners” which offered definitive direction, and a way of life that provided security and stability. He sought to lay down “nothing hard, nothing burdensome.”

Benedictus is a Latin word meaning blessing. To this end, St. Benedict established a “school for the Lord’s service” in which he must put all else aside and follow the teaching of Christ in obedience. His spirituality is Christocentric: “the love of Christ must come before all else.” Monks were expected to advance on the “path of God’s commandments, [their] hearts overflowing with the impressible delight of love.”

Benedict was a keen observer of human nature and realized that people often fail (the abbot must “distrust his own frailty”). He was concerned to help the weak, and consequently he enjoined that the abbot “so regulate and arrange all matters that souls may be saved and the brothers may go about their activities without justifiable grumbling.” Benedict looked to the heart; he sought a spirit of willingness (“First and foremost, there must be no word or sign of the evil of grumbling, no manifestation of it for any reason at all”) and sincerity (“Never give a hollow greeting of peace”; “Let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

St. Benedict stressed the importance of the person and the relationship of persons living together. He respected the freedom of the person (the novice is free to leave at any time, the monk who leaves may be received back even a third time). If there is strictness, the purpose is to “amend faults and safeguard love.” He directed the abbot to “arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak have nothing to run from.” It is a humane approach to personal relationships. But it is an approach based on the supernatural: “that in all things God may be glorified.” Benedict was a God-oriented man leading like-minded people on the way of the Gospel.

In summary, Spirituality at Christ the King Erdkinder Program seeks order, challenge without burden, service to our Lord in the community, obedience to God’s commandments and those rules initiated by the students, admonishes the tendency to grumble or complain, sincerity so as to encourage peace, respect for the freedom of the students in their spiritual walk to the greater glory of God (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam).

Adapted from the Preface to The Rule of St. Benedict in English, Rev. Timothy Fry, O.S.B.

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