It seems like every day our world is faced with more violence. St. Benedict was no stranger to it. He saw it in the streets and even in religious life: some of his own followers tried to poison him.
Despite his exposure to violence, or perhaps because of it, he wrote a rule for the monks to follow that focused on how people could live together in peace.
In his rule, St. Benedict quotes scripture, saying, "love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39). He reminds his fellow monks, "Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else" (RB 4.20).
He also prompted the monks to do good deeds. This included welcoming everyone as Christ, caring for the sick, and treating the elderly and children with compassion.
St. Benedict believed that the best way to be a leader was through building relationship. He proclaims "Let [the leader] strive to be loved rather than feared." Love, indeed, goes a long way.
As Christians, we get a chance to live out the gospel every day. How might you take some of St. Benedict's words of advice and practice them in your daily life to promote peace in your family, friendships, or parish community?
If the task seems daunting, St. Benedict reminded his monks not to worry. He wrote at the end of his rule: "...with Christ's help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues we mentioned above, and under God's protection you will reach them" (RB 73.8-9).