“And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”
― St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Benedict, a man who exercised enormous influence on western monasticism. Although he originally thought to live the life of a hermit, he ultimately had the idea of gathering monks into a single monastery where they could live, work and worship together. He developed a rule for communal life (The Rule of Benedict) that continues to influence Benedictine communities today.
I was not a fan of either the book or movie version of Eat, Pray Love, but I love the “Ora et labora” rhythm of Benedictine monastic communities. Benedict understood the need to balance between prayer and work as well as solitude and community. As one of my friends observed in a Facebook comment about Benedict’s formula, our modern society lacks much of what Benedict understood to be essential to our spiritual development.
On this day on which we celebrate Benedict, I give special thanks for the Sisters at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, who have so warmly welcomed me into their community during my numerous stays there, and for the Benedictine Center at St. Paul Monastery, where we have held several vocation retreat weekends for law students. These Benedictine communities inspire me with their hospitality, their warmth, and their commitment to prayer and to communal life.
And, with my Benedictine brothers and sisters this day, I pray, St. Benedict, pray for us.