Commentary on Chapter 49 of the Rule of St. Benedict: Observance of Lent
What wisdom we find in Saint Benedict when he says that few have the strength to live a continuous Lent, even if it is an ideal. This type of thinking and writing is important because it reflects clearly how Saint Benedict is able to accept lots of different types of monks and not get totally discouraged when they are not all perfect. Just as few have the strength to live a continuous Lent, neither should we expect in any way that we will find perfect monks in any community.
This mode of thinking never takes away the responsibility of the monk to keep striving to lead a better monastic life. What it does is encourage each monk to strive to accept his brothers as they are and to work personally for a better monastic life and to work to strengthen the monastic community and its observances.
So, for Saint Benedict, even though he recognizes that the monk cannot live a continuous Lent, he still recommends various ascetic practices during Lent. It is clear that the monk should add "something" to his normal style of living monastic life during Lent. Saint Benedict is not shy about suggesting that the monk can deny himself some food, some drink, some sleep, some needless talking and idle jesting... We can understand about giving up a little food and drink, but it sounds like Saint Benedict accepts a certain measure of needless talking and idle jesting in those times which are not Lent! Probably it is simply the realism of Saint Benedict shining through in his Rule once again.
But whatever the monk does, he must receive blessing from the abbot. Monastic life is not a private life! We need to open our hearts and our souls to the abbot, always with prudence, of course, but nevertheless a true openness. This is one of the most difficult aspects of monastic life today, when we are all used to lots of privacy and also used to making our own decisions.
For Saint Benedict, being a monk means never taking a decision by oneself--ever! Always a true monk must include his monastic superior in any decisions that he takes about his life or way of living the monastic life.
May we all grow in the aspects of monastic life mentioned in this Chapter. May we strive to be strong and to offer something to the Lord. May we learn to ask our abbot's blessing on our lives and on our decisions.
Philip Lawrence, OSB, Abbot of Christ in the Desert
For more commentaries by Abbot Lawrence, visit: http://christdesert.org/Detailed/919.html
Saint Vincent Archabbey will host an Easter Triduum "Come and See" discernment weekend for single Catholic men ages 21-40 on April 17 - 20, 2012. A "Come and See" weekend is a no-strings-attached chance to spend time learning about the life of Benedictine Monks of St. Vincent Archabbey. Come pray with us, talk with our junior monks, meet our older brethren, and most of all listen for the voice of Christ who continually calls men to a life of work and prayer in service to the Catholic Church. For more information about the weekend, life as a Benedictine monk, or to schedule another time to visit the Abbey please contact Fr. Max, OSB at 724-532-6655 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Chapter 49 of the Rule of St. Benedict: The Observance of Lent
The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent. Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times. This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:6). In other words, let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing. Everyone should, however, make known to the abbot what he intends to do, since it ought to be done with his prayer and approval. Whatever is undertaken without the permission of the spiritual father will be reckoned as presumption and vainglory, not deserving a reward. Therefore, everything must be done with the abbot's approval.
Monks & Seminarians Lead a Weekly Bible Study for the Men at Union Mission
The Union Mission of Latrobe, Inc., is a Judeo-Christian based, non-profit mission, providing temporary shelter and needed services to homeless men in Westmoreland County and surrounding counties, while assisting them in their move toward self-sufficiency.
The Union Mission provides for the overall treatment needs of each resident through a structured, daily program which focuses on four distinct areas: employment, education, behavior modification, and counseling.
The Union Mission provides each resident with a variety of experiences and guidance to assist them with their spiritual growth. Information about local church worship services and activities is made available to the residents. Each Thursday evening, a Bible study and discussion led by students and priests from the local Catholic seminary or other community clergy persons is held on the premises.
How to Contribute Financially to The Union Mission
Tax-deductible donations can be made via the following methods: Send a check payable to Union Mission of Latrobe, Inc. to: Union Mission P.O. Box 271 Latrobe, PA 15650 Donate online via Westmoreland Gives. Information can be found at www.westmorelandgives.com. Donate online via the United Way. We are affiliated with The United Way of Westmoreland County. Our agency code is 2913.