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'Why do I celebrate St Benedict?'

An excellent question.

Why do I daily celebrate St Benedict, in a world that celebrates a lot of other saints.

Simply the impact he has had on my spirituality.

So, what is that impact?

A Rule that is over 1,500 years old that is still guiding monks, nuns, and laypeople around the world. A guide to spiritual living that influences me and thousands of others in a very different world to the one it was written in. Clearly what Benedict says in the Rule has depth of understanding of the human need to be able to live as true and full Christians.

What is that guidance?

The opening word is Listen - powerful, but a good opening needs to be followed by words that are meaningful to the listener, if that listening is to be maintained and have an impact.

The Rule is read daily in the Lay Community at Morning Prayer and the whole Rule is read three times each year, so I have heard it many times. Yet in every reading cycle I encounter something that makes me pause and think. How many of us can say we have read a book over 30 times, and it still regularly surprises and makes us think.

That is the continuing impact the Rule and Saint Benedict have for me.

The Rule provides me with:

Structure in the way I approach my everyday spiritual life. It makes me think about how to approach life and prayer. Benedict grounds the spiritual life in the real world. This isn’t keeping holy the sabbath. This is keeping holy 24/7/365. Although it is 1,500 years old it asks questions of me that are relevant to my every day and spiritual life.

Orare est Laborare, Laborare est Orare—to pray is to work, to work is to pray.

It recognises the strengths and weaknesses of the human condition. Look at his comments on wine and on sleepy people not making it to Vigils. And then he provides guidance, advice, and strong direction to address the weaknesses.

But most of all it has guided me to a deeper and richer Christianity than I have experienced in my previous 50 years. This happens because in our Benedictine community I am exposed to people seeking to live as Christ asked us to. In them I encounter Christ. These people provide me with daily experiences that help me to listen to the word of God. As Benedict suggests in his opening to the Rule.

So why do I celebrate St Benedict?

No Benedict – No rule – No community – Less listening – a poorer Christian Life.

Peter Firkin

In his own words: “I have been a member of the Lay Community of Saint Benedict for fifteen productive and enriching years. All the rest is pretty irrelevant.” Peter regularly leads Early Morning Prayer in the community and is a contributor to the LCSB Blog.

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