Benedictine women and men in Westminster
Benedictine men and women in England
Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Oscott Hill
Benedictine tradition, charism and teaching
How does St. Benedict speak to us today? How does he address the issues that we face?
How, particularly, does he speak to the people who live in the vast archdiocese of Westminster, where there such a need for a commitment to the values and vision of the Benedictine way?
Can it be that St Benedict’s tiny Rule, written some 1500 years ago for men in rural Italy, is still vibrant, life-giving and relevant? Benedictine women and men believe it is.
We believe that in Benedict we find a man with vision and practical wisdom whom we can hear because he speaks out of his personal experiences.
It is precisely because he has such a grasp of the human psyche and how it works that he can touch us with practical wisdom and insight.
It is compelling that Benedict always speaks in totally practical terms.
He gives his teaching in the most practical and down-to-earth way possible.
This is one of the reasons we can hear him and find him unthreatening. Some of us have a built-in resistance, which we share with many others, to being presented with ethical demands and moral statements such as the declarations and pronouncements that emanate from the institutional church.
However, one’s reaction is entirely different when profound theological teachings and spiritual insights are given in the context of real-life situations or through portraits of ordinary people. I am ready to listen, to hear and to follow.
When Benedict talks to us about handling with care, about reverence and respect for material things, he does it in a way that is immediate and specific, and therefore difficult to evade.
The Abbot hands out the work tools to the brothers, and he keeps a list, recognizing that these items are on loan and that everything matters.
At the end of time, whether it is when the harvest is finished, or at the end of one’s life, or the day of judgment, they are to be collected back again and “recollegenda.”
The Latin word carries a sense that when work is done and the harvesting is complete, the tools are to be gathered in again. They are only on loan, and they’ve got to be returned.
We can come to see that Christ has lent each one of us all the good things in life. This includes the earth, everything. We are trusted by God and we care for the earth for others, for self with this act of trust.
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© Ealing Abbey, copyright; updated 10 November 2014