St. Benedict: Pray. Work. Read.

Painting of Benedict from Peramiho, Tanzania. Kanuni means "Rule" in Swahili.

Today is the feast day of St. Benedict. If you’ve had a chance to see the amazing movie Of Gods and Men – about Trappist monks in Algeria in the mid-1990s – then you’ll appreciate learning more about St. Benedict of Nursia, one of the founders of monasticism. Below is a short reflection on Benedict from Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister.

There is one thing Benedict teaches us before all other possible insights about the spiritual life and that is this: God is with us. It is as simple as that. God does not need to be earned. God cannot be merited. God is not persuaded by human behavior to attend to us. God is not intent on ignoring us. “The divine presence is everywhere,” St. Benedict tells us.

God is the very breath of our souls, the creative energy that gives us life and carries us through all our days. God, our hope, is the magnet that draws us and the spirit that carries us from dark to light through life. Our beginning and our end is God, our present hope and life eternal.

We come to rest in that assurance, St. Benedict says, by realizing that whatever happens to us in life — when things go wrong, when our plans go awry, when our future seems dashed and the present seems impossible — God’s will for us is our welfare and not our woe.

Along the way, God sends guides to light our path — spiritual mentors and models to lead us, taskmasters to train us, disciplines to curb us — so that, for those “who endure and not grow weary,” growth from the trivial to the significant may be complete. Then, aware of our own limitations, honest in our sense of self, subdued in our demands of the world and simple in our needs, we lose the demons of exaggerated expectations. We are ready now to take life as it comes to us, unafraid and secure in the presence of God to lead us through it.–Joan Chittister, OSB

From Searching for Balance by Joan Chittister (Abbey Press)

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