Today is the feast day of my newest friend in the Cloud of Witnesses: St. Benedict of Nursia. I was deeply privileged last spring to spend a week at St. Gregory’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Three Rivers, Michigan. While I was there, I came to realize that many of the elements, people, and practices that have shaped my spiritual journey thus far are not random bits that I’ve thrown together, but are all, in fact, Benedictine in origin. I am thinking specifically of the Divine Office, Lectio Divina, and Centering Prayer. I also discovered that one of my heroes in the faith, Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement, was a Benedictine Oblate. It seems that St. Benedict has been stalking me for quite some time. I must say that it feels good to finally be caught. Below I have re-blogged an article that is a reflection on the personality of St. Benedict, written by Abbot Andrew Marr of St. Gregory’s Abbey.
In his Dialogues, Pope Gregory I said that Benedict could not “otherwise teach than he himself lived.” Taking Gregory at his word, I will celebrate our holy father Benedict by drawing out of the Rule what we can glean about the kind of man he was.
The way Benedict carefully outlined the way the Divine Office should be done, listing what psalms should be done when, shows an ordered man who appreciated discipline and having everything and everyone in place. We see the same care in the way Benedict outlined the daily schedule for a balanced life. However, Benedict showed flexibility when he said that one can rearrange the office psalms if that should be deemed expedient. Although he wanted his monastics to be on time for the office, he cut some slack by allowing them to come before the Venite (Psalm 95) is recited, for which reason it…
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