Today was the feast of St Benedict, so important for Western civilization, the Catholic faith, and indeed the University where I work, sponsored by the wonderful Benedictine sisters of Annunciation Monastery. I like Benedictine spirituality; it’s gritty, practical, tied to the land. Ora et labora; work and pray. A formative experience for me was staying at the Benedictine Sankt Stephans Abtei (St Steven’s Abbey) when I was hitchhiking and backpacking across Germany in the summer of 1994 as a college student. I learned the basics of praying the hours and singing in German and Latin; most significant was learning the Salve Regina. I remember singing it with the brothers, trying to follow both the Latin (foreign to me at the time) and the Gregorian notation (also foreign) and thinking I had never encountered a piece of music so simple and beautiful. Now I’m a Catholic working at a Benedictine institution. If you would have told me then…
In any event, some of the greatest hits from the Rule of Benedict:
Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.
The sleepy like to make excuses.
Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die.
Prefer nothing to the love of Christ (Nihil amore Christi praeponere; Bishop Kagan‘s motto)
Let all be received as Christ.
Listen intently to holy readings. Give yourself frequently to prayer.
Run while you have the light of life.