July 11 - Benedict of Nursia, ca. 540
Then he (Jesus) looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are
you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who
are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they
exclude you, revile, you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great
in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets."
St. Luke 6.20-23
Benedict, the father of Western monasticism, was born to a distinguished
family in central Italy ca. 480. He studied in Rome where he was influenced
by the Byzantine monastic centers. He was offended by the licentiousness
of contemporary society and withdrew to become a hermit in a grotto, about
forty miles west of Rome. Disciples soon came to him, causing him to turn
from solitary life to the communal. He created twelve monasteries of twelve
monks each. He was apparently not ordained and did not contemplate an
order for the clergy.
He took his community to Monte Cassino, a fortified hill midway between
Rome and Naples, where he created places of Christian prayer consecrated
to John the Baptist and St. Martin. Monte Cassino remained the principal
monastery, although another was founded in Terracina. Benedict kept in
careful touch with other monastic leaders and composed his famous Rule.
this Rule is relatively short and is marked by a spirit of "prudent
leniency" compared to other monastic rules, and fixes a daily routine
of common worship, labor and rest.
Around 577, the Lombards destroyed Monte Cassino. When it was restored
a century and a half later, a cult developed around the tomb of Benedict.
Although he died on March 21, July 11 has been established as his special
"day" in the church calendar. In 1944 the monastery at Monte
Cassiuno was again destroyed in an Allied attack on a Nazi stronghold,
but it has since been restored.
The order that grew up around Benedict became the abundant stream that
eventually gave life to nearly all western monasticism. His faith was
marked by a quiet and very practical confidence that God will care for
and make order of our lives. Benedict understood that Christ visits us
as the guest, and that the attention of others is less an intrusion in
our lives, than it is a gift to be cherished. His life was marked by openness
to all those who desired a closer relationship with God.
-- from Festivals and Commemorations by Phillip Pffateicher
and Brightest and Best by Sam Portaro
[from the Rule of St. Benedict]
We believe God is everywhere, and His eye beholds the good and wicked
wherever they are; so we ought to be particularly assured of His special
presence when we (worship). . . We must always remember the advice of
the prophet, "To serve God in fear": "to sing wisely":
and that "the angels are witnesses of what we sing." Let us
then reflect what behavior is proper for appearing in the presence of
God and the angels, and so sing our psalms that the mind may echo in harmony
with the voice.
If we want to ask a favor of any person of power, we presume not to approach
but with humility and respect. How much more ought we to address ourselves
to the Lord and God of all things with a humble and entire devotion? We
are not to imagine that our prayers shall be heard because we use many
words, but because the heart is pure and the spirit penitent. Therefore
prayer must be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by a feeling of
divine inspiration. Prayer in common ought always to be short.
Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.
Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servant Benedict, may
persevere in the course that is set before us, to be living signs of the
Gospel and at last, with all the saints, to share in your eternal joy;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
-- Pastor Stickley