Benedict of Nursia Feast day. July 11, 2018 12 step
Today at this 12 step Eucharist we celebrate the feast day of Benedict, the founder of the western monastic life. Benedict was born about 480 in central Italy and educated in Rome. The historians among us will tell us that this was a terrible time to be an Italian and especially a Roman. The Roman empire was dying and there were constant invasions from so called “barbarians” from the north. Civilization was crumbling in the western world. It would be as if our country were under constant invasion and we had become a war zone like what we see on the nightly news in Syria.
But how marvelous does God work. Out of this decaying civilization comes a resurrection, one man who in his attempt to lead a better life develops a rule of life that changes the world. Benedict tries to escape and live as a hermit in a cave above Lake Subiaco, about forty miles west of Rome. But after several years, he realizes he cannot find peace, can not find God in seclusion, but must seek God in community. In forming a community, he develops a simple rule of how to live in community that monastics as well as ordinary people like you and me follow to this day. Imagine that. We can be healed in community where we could not be healed by ourselves. Sounds very 12 step! His rule is about how to live with each other, how to see God in each other, how to serve God, and how to serve each other.
A few things to remember about Benedict…
1. Benedict was never ordained. A man who changed the religious life of the world, never ordained.. imagine that. Could God be calling you to do the same.
2. Besides a rule of life, we owe the preservation of the Holy Scriptures and other ancient writings in large measure to the patience and diligence of Benedictine monastic scribes.
3. The Benedictine rule was one of balance: living a life of work, study, and prayer: four hours of prayer, five hours of study, six hours of work, one hour of eating, and eight hours of sleeping.
4. We also owe many of the early labor-saving devices such as windmills, water wheels, rotation of crops to the Benedictines, so that they would not be spending all day at their labors but did have time for study and prayer. Imagine that. Religious people developing windmills, water wheels, and crop rotation! Benedictines strongly believe in the dignity of work.
5. Here are some examples of the rule. They are like reading Proverbs:
Live in the presence of God.
When there are difficulties,/ be silent and wait for God.
Be content with everything and everyone.
Love to be silent.
Laugh only at yourself.
Be simply yourself.
My favorite part of the rule are the first words in the prologue which must have been taken from our reading from Proverbs: “Listen with the ear of your heart.” Listen with the ear of your heart.
Today, almost 1500 years after his death, at this Eucharist and healing service in this beautiful chapel, may we hear Benedict whisper in our ears, “today, listen with the ear of your heart.”