Homily for July 11th, 2017: St. Benedict.
St. Benedict, whom the Church celebrates today, was born in Norcia, some 70 miles north of
probably around 480. His Catholic parents gave him a religious upbringing,
sending him to Rome
for studies as a teenager. Benedict reacted negatively to the worldliness of Rome . Convinced that for
his soul’s health he should become a monk, he left Rome Rome
and journeyed east into the mountains of central , where he took up residence
in a cave, as a hermit. In time some of the pious nobility in Italy began to visit Benedict and to offer him
their sons to rear them for almighty God. This enabled Benedict to form 12
monastic communities all under Benedict’s general oversight Rome
By age 50 Benedict, confident that his monks could remain faithful to their calling without him, journeyed south to Monte Cassino, between Rome and Naples, where he founded the monastic community which still exists today, and wrote what he himself calls his “little Rule for beginners.” He died there in 547 or shortly thereafter, probably in his late sixties.
“We are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord,” Benedict writes in the Rule’s prologue. “In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.” Benedict makes it clear that his Rule is addressed to all – to the average person without any special gifts – and not just to spiritual athletes. “As we advance in the religious life and in faith,” Benedict writes in his Rule, “our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love” – words which clearly reflect Benedict’s own experience.
All over the world today men, and women as well, are still living according to Benedict’s Rule, more than thirty of them here in
One of them, a Trappist monk at St. Louis St. Joseph’s
Abbey in , helped me across the
threshold of the Catholic Church at Easter 1960. He died there in 2006 at the
age of 97. It was a lifetime of faithful
observance of Benedict’s “little rule for beginners” which enabled him to write
the beautiful words with which I close: Spencer, Massachusetts
“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances. To seek him, the greatest human adventure. To find him, the highest human achievement.”