ST. BENEDICT AND COURAGE CONFERENCE EVE

 

On the feast of Saint Benedict, I think back on one of our modern day saints, Father Benedict Groeschel who taught us in today life how to live and love Christ among the trials and tribulations and evil’s lurking.  He truly embraced St. Benedict as a role model, taking his name when entering monastic life.  So today as we celebrate the feast of Saint Benedict, I would like to share an article written by Jeffrey Kirby in CRUX magazine dated July 8,2018:  

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What did St. Benedict do?:

This coming week, Christian believers will celebrate the feast day of Saint Benedict of Norcia. The early sixth century saint still shines as one of Western culture’s brightest lights. And yet, of all the things that can rightly be said about him, sometimes the most obvious is missed. When the young saint found himself desolate and confused, what did he do?

Rather than accepting a life of bitterness, or joining in the debauchery of his day, or allowing himself to be overwhelmed by darkness and attempting to take his own life, Benedict chose a different option.

 

The historical record is accurate in recounting Benedict’s synthesizing of the Eastern eremitical and monastic traditions, and his subsequent formalization of Western monasticism by his well-balanced and famous Rule, which describes the structure, responsibilities, and harmony of a monastic community.

 

It’s also appropriate to note Benedict’s zeal with which he labored in creating monasteries throughout Italy, which led to monasteries being formed throughout Europe and eventually throughout the entire world (including Belmont Abbey in the area of Charlotte, North Carolina).

While these accolades should rightly be made and properly acknowledged, it’s worth pointing out again that the most obvious – and most impressive – thing about this saint is oftentimes overlooked or unappreciated, namely, what he did with a state of affairs that he didn’t want and couldn’t fix.

 

Benedict was from a wealthy and established family. He grew up shortly after the implosion of the great Roman Empire, and his life was surrounded by the chaos that follows such a monumental cultural shock and re-structuring. In spite of the social instability, the comfortability of Benedict’s family provided him with a relatively normal childhood and experience of life. And so, when the young Benedict went to Rome for his education, he was appalled by the disorder and turmoil in society and the licentiousness and corruption of its leaders. He found himself existentially dissatisfied and completely unhappy.

 

What did Benedict do?

 

The melancholy, which is felt by so many in our own day by a state of affairs that cannot be controlled, from divorce and familial dysfunction, unemployment and opioid addictions, personal debt and healthcare coverage, rising costs and legal status, can be helped by the response Benedict gave. He didn’t drink himself into stupor, or seek to profit from the corruption, or end it all in some suicidal fashion, or become a part of the problem in any way.

 

No, in spite of all worldly options, Benedict chose to reject the prevalent darkness, take the good into his own heart, and remove himself from the chaos.

 

Does this mean that the saint abandoned everything and just fled? Does it mean that he left with a disgruntled or angry heart? Did Benedict just quit, giving a kind of passive “I’m out of here! You all are on your own!” And, if not, then why did he leave and what was he looking for?

 

The answers to these questions can be found in the small cave where Benedict first lived. The young man left Rome and made his way to the mountainous area of Subiaco, which is just a few miles outside of Rome. Not too close, but not too far. When he arrived in Subiaco, Benedict wasn’t seeking to start a massive counter-reform of a wayward society. He wasn’t thinking about starting a universal monastic order to preserve and stabilize civilization. No, these actually came later and developed as a consequence of what Benedict was really looking for in Subiaco.

In the popular cave of Subiaco, which is still visited to this day by countless pilgrims (including myself and many friends when we were seminarians in Rome), the answer to our overriding question – What was Benedict looking for? – is literally written on the floor of the entrance. The unmissable answer is oftentimes missed. In simple mosaic, the answer is given: “Pax.”

 

GOD BLESS US ALL!

 

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