I attended graduate school at a Benedictine university, Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota. It is located on the grounds of the largest Benedictine congregation in the world; I studied theology there: Church History and Systematics.
The monastery at Saint John’s was home to Godfrey Dieckmann, whose liturgical reform movement in the early to mid-twentieth century had significant influence on the Second Vatican Council and changed the way worship is conducted, and the celebration of the mass throughout the world.
His reforms represented a return to the practices of the early Christians and the ante-nicene era.
While I was at Saint John’s I taught world religions at the preparatory school, I wrote my master’s thesis on the topic of universal salvation, which elicited a great deal of interest from my teachers and classmates, and my work was well regarded.
I took courses on medieval monastic history, monastic spirituality and one course specifically related to the Rule of Saint Benedict, from which I have taken one of the phrases that I use most often in my ongoing theological work.
Which means listen!
It is a phrase which I use interchangeably with: Be mindful!
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Benedict, who purportedly lived between the late fifth-century and the mid sixth-century CE.
What we know of the life of Saint Benedict comes mostly from the writing of Saint Pope Gregory the first, or Gregory the Great. It is not exactly a biography but rather a reflection on the idealized life of an abbot, most of which is a fiction written c. 593 CE.
Nevertheless, Benedict, real or imagined, produced a Rule (a guide for community living) that became the basis of western monasticism.
Benedicts Rule, enjoins the monk to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, a commitment to work, and a studious, meditative reflection on the psalms.
The life of Benedict, and the writing attributed to him has influenced the lives of thousands upon millions of people.
I am one of them, and I am thankful for Gregory who had the temerity to invent such a person who was noble in his humility.
Given First 07.11.2020