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Charisms In A Time of Crisis

It is easy to think of St Benedict as someone in control of life.  His rule provides in-depth guidance and advice on how to live life as a Christian. It emphasises peace and calm.

However, he faced war, destruction, shortages of food and basic necessities. Outside the monastery, the Roman Empire had collapsed, there was political fragmentation, cultural shifts and the emergence of new power groups. His own community even tried to poison him as they weren’t happy with some of the reforms he proposed.


Sounds a bit familiar – well, apart from the attempted poisoning.

 

Benedict stressed the importance of 3 charisms as the approach to a crisis.

 

Community, Hospitality and Prayer

Community

Photo Credit: Shane Rounce on Upsplash


Everything for St Benedict exists within the community, in its many forms. We are continually reminded that we are part of a community and have responsibilities to that community.


Many of the issues that underpin a crisis can be found in isolating and blaming others with no sense that we are all in this together and want the same things for ourselves and others.


I have been privileged to experience community in various forms. I have lived in two community houses with up to 10 others, plus time spent in barracks in the army, and, of course, the LCSB. These different experiences have taught me about the importance and value of community.

 

Hospitality


Photo Credit: Kate Remmer on Upsplash

A friend and I went to the anniversary of rugby tests between New Zealand and Wales in Wales. NZ scored a controversial try right in front of us (my friend and I agreed - no try). There was lots of grumbling and moaning from Welsh supporters around us, and, at the final whistle I said to my friend “We better get out of here”. As we stood a loud Welsh voice said “Well, you stole the game, but have a drink with us”, and a glass was thrust in my hand. An hour later we were still on the terraces drinking excellent Welsh Whiskey and arguing about life.


Why is that story important? For me, what makes a community strong is how we treat others. Community is about attitude, not place. It doesn’t matter how good you think your community is - without hospitality, it is just an insular bunch of like-minded people.

Benedict is clear – Christ is present in everyone we encounter.


If we want true community that reduces crisis and conflict, everyone must be loved, respected, listened to and welcomed. It is about accepting others as they are, and, importantly, doing the same to ourselves by looking to the Trinity for love and guidance through prayer.


Prayer


Photo Credit: Diana Simumpande on Upsplash


St Benedict puts prayer at the core of everything. There are 12 chapters on “Opus Dei” – the work of God. It’s the heart of community and hospitality that changes everything. Without the trust and love of God, nothing can change, and that comes to us through prayer.


Prayer comes in three forms:


  • Community prayer – the rich voice of the community

  • Personal prayer – short, sincere and focused

  • Silent meditation – A reflection on scripture and our inner life.


Regular prayer is at the heart of building community and finding our way forward. We must embrace it with humility as it recognises our dependence on God’s will all the time, as, without his involvement, nothing will change.

 

Community, Hospitality and Prayer


Photo Credit: John Towner


Paul sums it up beautifully:


 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. - Romans 12:12-13 NIV


Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12: 21 NIV


Peter Firkin

2024

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