“Listen, carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is the advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. (Prologue, Rule of Saint Benedict, verse 1)
So begins one of the most famous monastic rule of life in Western Christianity. It is also the only document we have written by Saint Benedict. What we know about this saint comes from memories of his followers and legend. While the figure of Benedict is somewhat hidden in the mists of time; there is no denying the effect his spiritual sons and daughters has had on the world. It was the monasteries who preserved the wisdom of Europe during the chaos of the Dark Ages. It was Benedictine monks who were the first missionaries to pagan lands.
In our present day, although their numbers have shrunk in Europe and America, they still inspire countless lay men and women by the example of their lives. They guide individuals through the ways of prayer, helping them encounter the loving presence of God. Many lay persons have become oblates of St. Benedict, living the Benedictine qualities of prayer, hospitality, and community in their daily lives.
Benedict and his Rule was, and is, a great gift of God to His people. We should all give thanks for this gift.