not only Sci vias Dei (Know the ways of God), as Abbess Hildegard of Bingen writes, but also, “discern and follow the ways of God”, the necessary fulfilment.
Fr Abbot, Dom Peter Burns, Dom James Leachman and Dom Alexander Bevan joined Dom Daniel McCarthy of Atchison in a visit to Keizersberg Abbey in Leuven (21-25 June 2014). They wanted to promote links between Ealing Abbey, Keizersberg Abbey, St Benedict’s Atchison and the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven in different ways.
Prior Dirk Hanssens presented an inspiring digital display of a work on Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, “Sci vias Dei” (Know the ways of God) to the visitors from Ealing and Atchison. This was part of an arts collaboration recently commissioned by Abbot Kris Op de Beeck and the monks of Keizersberg.
Dei vias sequere – discernment and discretio
The character of the Benedictine tradition of discernment was raised in discussion. The word “discernment” is derived from “discretio” (Latin) and “diakrisis” διακρίσεις (Greek) meaning “a sifting, choosing or selecting” between options (1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:4).
Discernment in the Desert Fathers: Diakrisis in the Life and Thought of Early Egyptian Monasticism, by Antony D. Rich. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press, 2007. 332pp., paper, £19.99, ISBN 9781842274316.
Discretio (the Latin form of diakrisis) was a key term for Cassian. Cassian employed it to describe the mental task of reasoning, and the means by which a monk made correct choices in a myriad of contexts. It is a quality to be developed and employed in all aspects of the monastic life, rather than a rarely-used charism restricted only to the mystical search for God.
Dei vias sequere –
Dei vias sequere – scholarly articles on discernment and discretio
Article by Dermot Tredget, “Practical wisdom and the Rule of Benedict”, Journal of Management Development 29 (2010) 716 – 723
Findings – The paper comes to a number of conclusions: spiritual discernment is an integral and indispensable part of practical wisdom; the acquisition, development of practical wisdom cannot be divorced from the individual’s core spiritual and religious beliefs and practice; practical wisdom is not an end in itself but a means to discerning how to live a morally good life in relationship to other individuals and stakeholders.
Practical implications – Any workplace, irrespective of size and activity, must be a community of practice where practical wisdom can develop and flourish. In the frenetic workplace the exercise of practical wisdom needs protected time and contemplative leisure.
Originality/value – The ancient texts of the Rule of Benedict are translated into modern times; consequences for management practice and education are drawn.
Article, Carmel Posa, “Discretio: Heloise of the Paraclete’s Embodied Reading of the Rule of Benedict”, American Benedictine Review, 62 (2011) 161 – xxx.
© Ealing Abbey, copyright, 28 June 2014