Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Today is the feast day of St. Benedict. As many of you readers know, I've been paying a lot more attention to this guy ever since I read a book on the early monks and since my visit to the nearby monastery. I have to credit him for a major life change on my part. I am a person who walks fast, talks fast, eats fast, works fast, and prays fast. I have to give St. Benedict credit for "teaching me to slow down now and then." I have come to believe in his Rule. Even though it was written 15 centuries ago, a lot of it makes good common sense now. I find myself viewing many of my thoughts and actions through the lenses of "Stability, obedience, and conversion."

He has taught me fifteen centuries later to try to slow down, and listen. I am still not very good at it, but I keep trying, and sometimes, it actually happens!

Benedict's Rule is short by "monastic discourse" standards, but powerful. Benedict liked rhetoric and oratorial speech, but realized it did not have just the power to "persuade" in a secular sense, but that the power of speaking and oratorical rhythms could be put to the service of the Gospel. Although in one sense he was a "college dropout," it wasn't because he didn't understand his schoolwork!

Benedict understood the power of both the Psalms, and their melodic nature, and was a huge proponent of what we now know as lectio divina...that in chanting words and phrases of the Bible slowly, they gain power and create recognizable images in our own spiritual lives.

He actually wrote his Rule for lay people, and saw the Divine Office as a means in which "the Church" can come to us, no matter where we are. Rather than insist his monks stayed and prayed in the monastery, he stressed that it was the actual praying of the Divine Office, no matter where they were, was the important thing. By doing this, the whole world became their chapel, and being united in "the present moment" became their church.

St. Benedict was a bit of a trail-blazer in that some of his most beloved disciples were women, and through the energies of his sister (St. Scholastica) he promoted his Rule as a way both men and women could become closer to Christ.

St. Benedict's Prayer

O Lord,
I place myself in Your hands and dedicate myself to You.

I pledge myself to do Your will in all things:
To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength.
Not to kill, not to steal not to covet, not to bear false witness, to honor all persons.
Not to do to another what I should not want done to myself.
Not to seek after pleasures.

To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.

To bury the dead.
To help those in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To hold myself aloof from worldly ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Not to give way to anger.
Not to foster a desire for revenge.
Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
Not to make a false peace.

Not to forsake charity.
Not to swear, lest I swear falsely.
To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
Not to return evil for evil

To do no injury, indeed, even to bear patiently any injury done to me.
To love my enemies.
Not to curse those who curse me but rather to bless them.
To bear persecution for justice's sake.

Not to be proud.
Not to be given to intoxicating drink.
Not to be an overeater.
Not to be lazy.
Not to be slothful
Not to be a detractor.

To put my trust in God.
To refer the good I see in myself to God.
To refer any evil I see in myself to myself
To fear the day of judgment.
To be in dread of hell.

To desire eternal life with spiritual longing.
To keep death before my eyes daily.
To keep constant watch over my actions.
To remember that God sees me everywhere.

To call upon Christ for defense against evil thoughts that arise in my heart.
To guard my tongue against wicked speech.
To avoid much speaking.
To avoid idle talk.

Not to seek to appear clever.
To read only what is good to read.
To pray often.
To ask forgiveness daily for my sins, and to seek ways to amend my life.

To obey my superiors in all things rightful.
Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness.
To fulfill the commandments of God by good works.

To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not be jealous or envious of anyone.
Not to love strife.
Not to love pride.

To honor the aged.
To pray for my enemies.
To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun.
Never to despair of your mercy, O God of mercy.


Wow, that's quite a prayer. A lot to live up to, but I guess the whole point is that people can do it only with God's help.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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