ENLARGING THE HEART

UPDATE:             1ST January 2015   We now begin a new series of commentaries on the Rule of our Holy Father Saint Benedict (Series 3). We hope this will continue to be a source of spiritual nourishment for you. 


Daily readings from the Rule of Saint Benedict

By a Benedictine of Saint Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde


"... as we progress in our monastic life and in faith, our hearts

   shall be enlarged, and we shall run with unspeakable sweetness of love in the way of God's commandments." 

(From the Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict)


St Benedict wrote his Rule for monks some fifteen centuries ago.  Driven by his love of Christ, he wanted to establish his monastery as a “school of the Lord’s service”: a place where people who truly seek God could find him; places where “authentic Gospel values prevail”[1]; where nothing whatever would be preferred to Christ. The Rule of St Benedict spread all over Europe, and had an enormous influence on the life and spirituality of the Latin Church.  It continues to inspire monks, nuns, and countless lay people throughout the world today.

Like many monasteries we divide the Rule into sections so that the whole Rule is covered over a period of three months. The commentaries will follow the sequence of the sections.



[1] Pope John Paul II, to Benedictine Abbots, 23 September 1996


May 15, 

The Abbot ought always to remember what he is and what he is called; and that from him to whom much is given much shall likewise be required.  Let him consider how difficult and arduous a task he has undertaken - namely, that of ruling souls, and of adapting himself to the dispositions of many.  Let him so accommodate and suit himself to all according to the character and intelligence of each one, winning some by kindness, others by reproof, others again by persuasion, that he may not only suffer no loss in the flock committed to him, but may even have cause to rejoice in the increase of a virtuous flock.

 

Again St Benedict continues the themes of adaptation to different characters and diversity of treatment.  The abbot’s authority is at the service of the growth of the community.  The Latin word auctoritas from which our word for authority comes is derived from the word augere and means, one who promotes the growth and prosperity of others.  It is for the abbot to adapt himself to his monks; he is at the service of different characters to facilitate growth in his monks.  Genuine authority is never about the needs and wishes of the one in authority. That is why too St Benedict insists on the teaching aspect of the abbot position and those of the other officials in the monastery.  The abbot’s task is not only to give orders but by instruction and example to create a climate of growth and meaning in which the Gospel teaching and monastic priories are paramount. These demand on our part a willingness and openness to receive and obey.