Benedictine Spirituality shapes the Community of Hope.
What is Benedictine Spirituality?
Benedictine Spirituality is a way of life that helps a person to seek God and God's will daily. It encourages a balance in one's life of corporate worship, spiritual reading and work in the context of community. People are seen as an integrated whole: Body, Mind, and Spirit. Core values in Benedictine Spirituality are stability, obedience (to God), personal transformation, humility, and hospitality, care of the ill, living a life style of love centered in Christ and listening for God in all of life.
The Rule of Benedict
(Sixth Century AD)
“The Rule” offers guidelines for the ordering the life. The monks for whom the Rule was written were laypersons living in community, seeking God. The Rule has 73 chapters of varying lengths. In Benedictine monasteries a portion of the Rule is read daily. For The Community of Hope, the Rule is simply an aid for us to live by the Scriptures. The primary concern of the Rule is to confront us as forcefully as possible with the Gospel and its demands.
How Benedictine Spirituality Shapes The Community of Hope
The Community of Hope is “shaped by Benedictine Spirituality.” The “spirit” of the Rule shapes the “spirit” of The Community of Hope. The major themes of community, prayer, hospitality, study, work, humility, stability, peace, and listening find expression in the way The Community of Hope is structured and lived.
The Life of St. Benedict
(c.480 - c.547)
With regard to the Church and State, never was the condition of Europe so sad and deplorable as the time when St. Benedict was born. A total downfall of existing conditions had taken place; all bonds of order seemed dissolved, and civil laws and authorities done away with.
St. Benedict was born in the year 480, at Nursia, a city in Southern Italy to a noble Roman family. When Benedict had passed his childhood years his parents placed him in the schools of Rome to have him educated in fine arts. But now came the turning point in his life. When he saw that many of his companions in the great metropolis were giving themselves up to vice and precipitating themselves into the abyss of destruction, he fled from the world and its corruption. God calling him to higher things and the dangers of the World prompting him to leave it, he quit Rome at age 14 to seek salvation and perfection in solitude.
Benedict lived a solitary life for three years near Subiaco in a cave where he had a foresight of his own monastery. Benedict had made a representation of a monastery with its abbot and crowds of monks in the background. He was now in his twentieth year. Benedict later formed small monasteries of 12 monks or more. This is the time he wrote a rule for monks which is distinguished for it's wonderful discretion and clearness of thought, in this rule the Saint laid down laws and precepts necessary for conventual life. In 73 chapters he regulates the entire monastic life by combining the principles of the Gospel into clear, concise rule for the life in a monastery. We today know it as “ The Rule of St. Benedict.”
Benedict also had a twin sister whom he was very fond of, named Scholastica, who also shared his divine vision and under his direction later formed a cloistered monastery for women. According to the writings of St. Gregory the Great, St. Scholastica used to come once a year to see Benedict not far from the gates of the monastery. It is said that one night as they shared their Holy praises St. Scholastica asked her brother to stay the night, Benedict refused to stay, it was not customary to stay outside the walls of the monastery. Seeing that Benedict would not agree, St. Scholastica understood her brother's determination. At this time the skies were serene, St. Scholastica quickly clutched her hands together and started to pray to the Almighty God. St. Scholastica leaned her head upon her hands and poured forth a flood of tears upon the table, by which she changed the fair weather into foul and stormy. Perceiving that by reason of thunder and lightning Benedict could not leave and was forced to stay the night. Three days later back in his cell in the monastery he saw his sisters soul depart from her body and enter into celestial mansions. Benedict rejoiced with great glory and thanked God with hymns and praises. He later ordered her body to be buried in the grave he had made for himself.
St. Benedict, the great Patriarch of Western monks, died March 21, 547 he died in the church where he daily had sung the praises and celebration of the Sacred Mystery. His remains are resting in the church of St. John the Baptist at Monte Casino. In the course of years, numerous miracles have glorified his tomb.