Feast of St Benedict ’10


One of my patron saints

Today is the Feast Day of one of my patron saints, St Benedict of Nursia. I am, in case I didn’t already mention, a Benedictine Oblate with the order of monks at St Leo Abbey in St Leo, FL.

I was first introduced to Benedictine spirituality years ago when a Presbyterian minister I had here in Florida  suggested that I read Kathleen Norris’ book_ The Cloister Walk_.  Few books have impacted my life as much as that one has: as this was my introduction to Benedictines & their rich spirituality of “ora et labora”

Norris, a totally Protestant , married woman, spends several long periods of time with the monks of a community in Minnesota. The book is basically a chronicle of her time with them, interspersed with stories of her time away from the monks between  visits to the abbey. The book also taught me a lot about what life is like for one monastic community, since I’ve pretty much grown up as a Presbyterian, monks & nuns seemed foreign to me.  Norris’ book taught me that monks{ and nuns, too} are just as human as we non-cloistered Christians. 

One of my favorite parts of” The Cloister Walk_ is when Norris recounts conversation she had with specific monks about  such topics as acacia, celibacy, ect.  By the end of the book I felt like I not only knew Norris better, but also the community about which she writes for this volume. Although _ Cloister_ is nonfiction, Norris’ easy prose flows like a novel & is a pleasure to read.

 One of the most attractive aspects of Benedictine spirituality for me is the concept of ” radical hospitality”. Benedict wrote in his Rule{ which, by the way, is not a rule as we 21st century folks think of it, but more of a set of guidelines by which to live.} Benedict tells his monks & nuns to welcome all as though  she or he{ meaning the stranger/newcomer were Christ himself.  This is a practical theology  that I try very hard to live out daily & I admit that it is so much easier to welcome others with open hearts who are similar to me & the people in my own community.

When I was on vacation in western Pennsylvanian I visited an ” Anglican church. { you know, one of ” those” churches who broke away from TEC} It was hard, but I said a prayer to God on the way to Mass & God * did* open my mind & heart enough so that I felt the presence of our LORD in  that place amongst people who think very differently from me. While they were no the most welcominng of church communities, I do not hold their attitudes against them. We are * all* fallen creatures & it is by God’s Grace that we are adopted into God’s Household.

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  • John  On 07/13/2010 at 3:17 am

    Hi, I am an oblate at St. Leo too. There is a meeting of oblates on August 1, 2010.

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