spirituality from st. benedict

Benedictine spirituality isn’t where I’ve come to fall on the vast spectrum of spiritual ideas even just within Christianity, but I think I’ve benefitted a lot from some of St. Benedict’s ideas. I have read the Rule of St. Benedict several times, and I appreciate his insistence on a structured spiritual life. This isn’t to say that things won’t come up, even St. Benedict knew that and made concessions for it in his Rule. The value to me of some structure to spirituality is that it keeps a pattern of doing certain things at certain times and giving a special rhythm to my spiritual life.

St. Benedict wrote his Rule for monastic communities, and so it was designed for communal spirituality with communal goals. As an individual, I can still learn to add certain structure to my spirituality, which is why, although I try to maintain an attitude of prayer always, that I also haver certain prayer time structured in specific ways. St. Benedict knew the importance of predictable routines and the idea was to live into spirituality all day every day, which is what my goal is also. I don’t go to the extreme of structured spirituality as St. Benedict did, and as a mother that wouldn’t work for me, but I have a time of prayer with my children each evening, and I have certain times when I pray my prayers and my children know to let me be and let me pray (they don’t necessarily do this, but they know they are supposed to). Now that they are older and can somewhat take care of themselves, I can be in my room saying prayers without them needing me.

The other thing that really made sense to me as far as St. Benedict’s Rule was that he was a man who understood that people’s relationship and attitude towards God isn’t always the same, that sin can and does affect us all and he made allowances for monks who had sinned. He had certain ways that certain sins were dealt with in the community, but he also was aware that someone could rebel against the order and leave the monastery, just to realize that they were wrong and that they wanted to repent and return. He catered to this by allowing monks to return up to three times, as long as they were repentant and were willing to live according to the Rule again.

This showed me that rebelling and turning away from God is a universal thing and that God is always there (but God’s chances are unlimited while I’m still on this earth), and that reconciling with God is always an option and that I can come back. I’ve done this now several times. St. Benedict’s rule makes me realize that he understood the spiritual life and the nature of humanity, and that he developed his rule keeping this in mind. His Rule, while not part of my spiritual life to any real degree, has useful application for me and for anyone looking for structure.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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