Walking with the Saints
St. Benedict of Nursia 480-550
Not much is known of St. Benedict’s early life, except that he was born in Norsia, studied in Rome and was disgusted with life there. He withdrew from society and lived in a cave in Subiaco as a hermit. Eventually a community grew up around him, and he established 12 monasteries around him with 12 monks each, with an abbot, appointed by him to lead each monastery.
Local jealousy forced him to leave Subiaco and move to Monte Cassino with a few monks where he remained until his death. It was there, that he composed his Rule of Life which is still followed today. The rule is marked with prudence and humanity and leads by observance and obedience to a perfect following of Christ. The chief task of the community is the discipline of the Divine Office which with private prayer, spiritual reading and work which fills the day.
We, at COS are blessed with the Community of Divine Love which follows the Benedictine Rule, as well as the monastery in Santa Barbara. From my own experience following the rule of St. Benedict is not always easy to follow. Often we will give in to distractions, use work and lack of time as an excuse to spend time with our Lord. Again drawing on my own experience when I do this I will find that I am more anxious, more tired and less energized. You would think I learned, yet often I will not reward myself and spend time in reflection and thanksgiving.
An excellent reference book is by Macrina Wiederkehr called “Seven Sacred Pauses.” This little book is a helpful guide for those who want to experience the Benedictine practice of mindful prayers during the day. For example she uses RUMI for an awakening Antiphon: “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you: don’t go back to sleep.
The rules summarized are: Love, Obedience, Restraint of Speech, and Humility. If you want further information, there is “The Rule Of St. Benedict in English”, published by the Liturgical Press.