Almighty and everlasting God, your precepts are the wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of your servant Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord's service; let your ears be open to our prayers; and prosper with your blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Tomorrow is the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, often considered the father of western monasticism. On the anniversary of his death we will celebrate his life and witness, as well as the rule of life that he inspired - even if he did not write every word.
But for today I want to share quotes from three modern women, each of whom acknowledges her debt to Benedict and the spirituality that he inspired. Too much of what claims to be Christian spirituality hovers in mid-air, but Benedictine spirituality is grounded, earthy, rooted. If we want to know what kind of parent someone is, we best look to the children they have raised. So, too, with our spiritual parents: if you want to know what kind of lives Benedict continues to inspire into the twenty-first century then look at the lives of people like Kathleen Norris and Esther de Waal and Joan Chittister. Their words and witness require no further commentary from me.
“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry.” (Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Woman's "Work")
"Stability says there must be no evasion; instead attend to the real, to the real necessity however uncomfortable that might be. Stability brings us from a feeling of alienation, perhaps from the escape into fantasy and daydreaming, into the state of reality. It will not allow us to evade the inner truth of whatever it is that we have to do, however dreary and boring and apparently unfruitful that may seem. It involves listening to the particular demands of whatever this task and this moment in time is asking; no more and no less.” (Esther de Waal, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict)
"Prayer in Benedictine spirituality is not an interruption of our busy lives nor is it a higher act. Prayer is the ﬁlter through which we learn, if we listen hard enough, to see our world aright and anew and without which we live life with souls that are deaf and dumb and blind." (Sister Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today)