Group photo of many of the Oblates of St. Scholastica Monastery in the St. Scholastica Chapel - January 2018.
How to feel part of a community is one of our current preoccupations; many self-help books and articles deal with ways to get along with work colleagues and neighbors. The Rule of St. Benedict, written for those who seek spirituality in community, shows clearly and simply that a good community member respects the individuality of others, genuinely cares about people in the community, and welcomes the stranger.
I have felt drawn to the Benedictines by their welcoming spirit and concern for others. At St. Scholastica Monastery, where I am an Oblate (an associate who tries to practice the Benedictine Rule while living in the world), I hear often the opening words of the Prologue, "Listen. . .with the ear of your heart," and consider how listening helps to create community.
The feast of St. Benedict is celebrated July 11. Benedict's Rule, written ca. 547 C.E., is "advice from a father who loves you." It is practical and humane, indicating that those who live by his rule are human beings who need sufficient clothing, blankets, and food in order to work, pray, and rest well.
Though monastic life originated in Egypt, Benedict (480-547), the great abbot of Monte Cassino, is the father of Western monasticism. The six centuries after he died are known as the "Benedictine Centuries." During that time, the monasteries were a stable and influential part of community life and by copying and creating both sacred and non-religious manuscripts, kept the culture alive. Though adapted because of changing times, the Rule is still followed by contemporary Benedictines.
~ Kay McSpadden for Growing in Faith first appeared in the St. Gertrude Parish Bulletin July, 7, 2018. Article published with permission.