A recent visitor to Mount Saviour sent a letter regarding the spiritual benefits from his retreat, most especially the journey as an oblate novice. He added a copy of what he has shared with others, regarding Benedictine Spirituality. A portion of it follows….
“What can Benedict teach us in 2022? As it is the New Year, perhaps he can guide us with our resolutions and how to do them better.
Benedict places a huge emphasis on stability. In the first chapter of his Rule – the text that guides the Benedictine Order – he critiques spiritual folk of his day who wandered from place to place, practice to practice, group to group without ever setting down firm roots. We all know people who are always on some new diet, spiritual fad, self-help book, or guru/ expert every time we see them. Would it not be better to stick with one thing and strive to do it well, rather than scatter our efforts and get nowhere?
Benedict’s other major virtue is moderation. Before Benedict, the norm for the spiritual life was going to extremes with fasting, mediation, and even bodily penances. Benedict saw no benefit in this, and his Rule is a refreshing breath of sanity and reasonableness. His vision of life is one in which “the strong have something to yearn for, and the weak have nothing to run from”, with the right balance between “nothing harsh, nothing burdensome” and “a little strictness.” As we make our plans for self-improvement, this principle can keep our goals flexible. If we try to take on too much too soon, we’re liable to just abandon everything when our enthusiasm conks out a few weeks into January.
As we begin 2022, Benedict would also advise us, before anything else: “First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection.” May this New Year see us all closer to the realization of our dreams and goals.