Benedictus Qui Venit
Robert P. Imbelli July 11, 2006 - 7:49am
In the next last chapter of his Rule, St. Benedict, whose feast the Church celebrates today, draws upon and applies to monastic life the "two ways" theme of the biblical tradition:
Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then, is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: they should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another's weaknesses of body and behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead what he judges better for someone else. To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; to God. loving fear; to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.
Many fine books, like Dolores Leckey's The Ordinary Way, have shown the applicability of the Rule to family life. One thinks, for example, of the many adult care-givers struggling, with patience and grace, to support the physical and mental infirmities of parents.
On a societal level, one recalls on this feast the now famous peroration penned, twenty five years ago, by Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue. Though acknowledging the risk of drawing too facile historical parallels, MacIntyre suggested that we may be entering a new "dark age" of barbarism. And he concludes:
This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another -- doubtless very different -- St. Benedict.
About the Author
Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.