Skip to comments.Today's the Feast of St. Benedict
Posted on 07/11/2005 1:46:04 PM PDT by Teˇfilo
As a lay Benedictine, I had to say something.
Folks, I want to mark today's day in a special way, since I have "bought into" Benedictine spirituality and therefore, St. Benedict is a spiritual father to me.
Before I move on to his biography (courtesy of MonasteryIcons.com), I want to say that St. Benedict should be counted as something more than a Father of the Church, but also as a Father of Western Civilization. If the two main threads of Western Civilization are Jerusalem and Athens, we also need to accept the fact that it was Rome, the Rome of the Popes, who brought these two threads together to knit our culture and our civilization. But this knowledge was not preserved in Rome alone, but was distributed to every monastery in Europe and beyond who followed St. Benedict's Monastic Rule. Each monastery became a focus of civilization and a place for the preservation of knowledge. It was St. Benedict's monks the one's who forged our sciences, art, and religion and who kept them for future generations. May he intercede for all of us and nurture all his spiritual children, particularly those of us who have decided to follow his God-inspired Rule according to our state in life.
St. Benedict was born in central Italy of good family, was educated at Rome, at 14 years of age joined a Christian group outside the city, and afterwards lived as a hermit in a mountain cave. During this period he made a close study of the Scriptures, and for the rest of his life, in complete self-dedication, gave all that God asked. "The finger of God had only to point, and he followed whatever the cost." The cave was a hidden retreat upon a barren mountainside, its whereabouts known only to a single friend who brought him food in secret, lowering it by rope over the mountain edge. After three years he was chosen by the monks of a neighboring monastery to be their abbot, but so strict was his discipline and so stern his rebukes of their laxity that they sought to remove him, even attempting to poison him, and he was glad to escape to his mountain refuge.
But now he could not be alone, for disciples flocked to him. They came from every rank of life, and his cave was no longer convenient in view of the demands made upon him. He was subjected also to the jealous persecution of a local priest. In 527, therefore, he travelled to Monte Cassino, 85 miles southeast of Rome, on the summit of which stood an altar to Apollo; there he tore down the pagan shrine and established the greatest and most famous of all monasteries, which became the home of the Benedictine Order. When he died there were 14 Benedictine communities, and by the 14th century there were over 30,000.
At Monte Cassino he established his famous Rule which changed and renewed the monastic life of Europe. He provided against vagabondage, immorality, and other evils then prevalent in religious houses. A monk was to be a soldier of God, "a member of a spiritual garrison holding duty for Christ in a hostile world"; and to be always on duty. It was a great and happy brotherhood with a strong family unity, so that wherever its members went they felt a common bond, and drew their strength from their home at Cassino, built upon the rock.
Saint of: fever, gallstones, inflammatory diseases, kidney disease, poisoning, witchcraft, temptations, agricultural workers, farmers, schoolchildren, Europe.
- Purchase the above icon from MonasteryIcons.com
- Visit the Crossroad's Initiative to find out why Cardinal Ratzinger chose "Benedict" as his papal name.
They are one and the same.
July 11, 2007
It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised measureless influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of St. Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.
Benedict was born of a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to the monastic life. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing worldpagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.
He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose him as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still, the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one Grand Monastery to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the worldMonte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountain.
The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor and living together in community under a common father (abbot). Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.
Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians.
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