Spirituality has been described in many different ways by Benedictine writers.
An authentic spirituality leads to a life open to God, self and others. Some spiritualities are directed more to the interior life of contemplation and repose. Others direct the one praying more to active service and evangelisation. Benedictine spirituality claims to be balanced and enable us to live both in community, in peace and in service of the world.
How can we, who live in the third millennium, live lives inspired by St Benedict, who lived in the first millennium? We can live by some of the eternal truths by which he lived.
Benedictine spirituality invites us to:
Worship the One True God
Love and imitate Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh for our salvation.
Live in the power of the Holy Spirit of Truth and Love.
Benedictine spirituality enables us to:
Live in communities of faith, where the eternal truths are valued.
Witness through public prayer and service
While trying to explain to someone how I felt about the spirituality of Benedictines, I kept trying to get the words out of my mouth to the definition that Benedictine spirituality seemed “natural,” or “like a ground spring.” All of my definitions have felt inadequate. Michael Casey, OCSO, explains monastic life in a much better way. Because he is a follower of the Rule of St. Benedict, his version of monastic life is what I was trying to find:
Those who embrace the monastic means as the determining elements in their behavior gradually acquire a new identity. This is something that grows from within. It is not a temporary phase that will soon be abandoned. This monastic identity accompanies monks and nuns wherever they go, whatever they do.
Because Benedictine monasticism is the oldest form of monastic community in Western Christianity, it did not have a direct “reason” for its existence, like the Dominicans or Jesuits. Instead the “reason” for these monks was to pursue a life of holiness. That life of holiness takes on different forms. To support themselves the monks took on different tasks. Some monasteries run schools, others universities, others stay with more traditional farming, some observe stricter silence than others, and some provide iPhones as a tool for their brothers. No matter what kind of monastery you visit, you find that the spirituality of the place feels natural, unforced, and driven towards God.
© Ealing Abbey, copyright 22 May 2015