"Send out Your light and Your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling." Psalm 43:3

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"The Monk is Not an Anachronism"

I just recently began reading The Rule of Saint Benedict, the fifth century classic of Western monasticism.  I'm kind of surprised it's taken me this long to get around to it, since I've been fairly enthralled with the idea of the monastic life since I was a kid.  During my most recent excursion to Eighth Day Books, I bought an edition published by Vintage Spiritual Classics, and the following is from the preface by Thomas Moore.
"The emphasis in The Rule on contemplative practices gives it its exceptional value and, of course, over the centuries has inspired many reformers, organizations, and individuals to create fresh ways of being contemplative.  The Rule refers to the chanting of the psalms as the Opus Dei, or Work of God, and for the monk it is certainly true that common prayer, carried out in a spirit of contemplation and with beauty, is his or her central work ...
"The combination of being aware of the divine presence everywhere, chanting the Divine Office with special care to art, praying briefly but devotionally, reading contemplatively, and treating manual labor for the community as a part of spiritual practice -- all these five daily give life a special quality, a tranquility and calm that are difficult or impossible to find in the non-monastic world.  It seems true that ours is still an age of anxiety, not a psychological problem but an existential condition created by the busy, productive, and unthoughtful style of modern work, play, and home life. ...
"The monk is not an anachronism, nor is The Rule of Saint Benedict antique and irrelevant.  It is modern life, rather, that is not in accord with the fundamental needs of the human heart.  From the viewpoint of the human soul, our modern style of living is the irrelevancy.  By not enjoying a genuine common life and by not giving ourselves a degree of contemplation, we wound our need for emotional quiet and for meaning.  And so it is appropriate to return to this ancient sketch of an alternative life, to reread it and discuss it, and, with imagination and reflection, bring its spirit into the workplace, the home, and the city, where it could transform a culture of anxiety into a community of peace and mutual regard."
To that I say a hearty "amen."  And as Moore suggests, I hope occasionally to "discuss" The Rule here on this blog, insofar as I'm given grace for some insight, or simply to voice questions.  A happy Saint Andrew's eve!

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