This past Saturday ( 11
July) the Church remembered St. Benedict. The Benedictine Religious Order and the Rule of St. Benedict has had a great influence on my life, especially in my spiritual life and the path to Priesthood. It continues to have an impact on me and St. Benedict through his Order has greatly influenced the Western Church.
When I first discerned God’s call for me to serve in the Church as a Priest, it was at a big youth event. It actually happened in a big Tent with thousands of teenagers during a rather loud time of worship. I was not sure that I had heard correctly, so like Gideon I asked again.
This second time happened a week later on retreat. I asked and waited for a response, but this time I was on the mountain side overlooking the Benedictine Monastery of Monserrat, just outside Barcelona. Basking in the Spanish sunshine and amidst the toiling of the Bell I had the same sense of peace I encounter the first time I asked God, “am I called to be a priest in your Church?” This turned my life upside down.
Some time later I became more aware of Benedictine spirituality and read The Rule of St. Benedict. Whilst at theological college, the Principal reminded us regularly that “We pray together, we study together and we eat together”. These simple statements re-enforced the Benedictine way that influenced our community life at Ripon College Cuddesdon.
Our community life at The Church of St. Michael & St. George has been transformed over the past 3+ months. Yet we are holding on to the Benedictine influence in the history of the Anglican Church, in the words of my Principal: we are praying together, we are studying together. Eating together is more of a challenge, but on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM we distribute food that enables others to eat together.
In his prologue St Benedict writes:
“And so to prepare ourselves for the journey before us let us renew our faith and set ourselves high standards by which to lead our lives. The Gospel should be our guide in following the way of Christ to prepare ourselves for his presence in the kingdom to which he has called us.” [Page 11, Saint Benedict’s Rule, A New Translation for Today, Patrick Barry OSB – could this be put in a smaller point size please]
The journey ahead of us is full of unknowns, things are changing day by day, even by the hour. But what St Benedict wrote about is what we should hold onto, the Gospel should be our guide.
I continue to give thanks to God for your faithful witness to Christ in these times.
PS I do commend the Rule of St. Benedict to you if you have not yet read it.