St Benedict's Day
11/July/2009 Filed in: Jottings
Happy feast of St Benedict! We don't keep today as a solemnity (that is the "proper" feast of St Benedict, the Transitus on 21 March) but what Benedictine worth her salt would overlook any occasion for rejoicing in our holy father's name? A it happens, we have a stream of visitors booked in this week-end, and today we shall be admitting another oblate; so opportunities for celebrating will not be wanting. In between whiles Digitalnun hopes to finish editing the recording of Henrietta Leyser's superb talk on Christina of Markyate, the first of our Trinity Lectures for this year. Henrietta has graciously given permission for it to be streamed from our web site, so look out for a new TALKS page in the near future. That is where you will also find the community's talks on medieval English mystics and anything else we think worth making available in that format. I can't end this post, however, without drawing your attention to today's chapter of the Rule, 33. Benedict was very severe on private ownership. He saw it as corrupting of community life and insisted that all things should be held in common. Those of us who dwell in monasteries know how easy it is to become attached to this or that, to treat the common property of the monastery as our own; but there is another form of private ownership that we tend to ignore or not take seriously although it can be a great disturber of the peace. We become very attached to our particular way of doing things, of asserting (non-existent) rights over the way in which the community acts or does things. It can even be in trivial matters like how the vegetables are cooked for dinner! Dare I say, it isn't only monks and nuns who fall victim to this? This is a good day to examine how far we demand that others adhere to our standards or adapt themselves to our likes and dislikes. Benedict's ideal of monastic life was to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, to outdo one another in paying respect, to choose always what is better for the other. That's not a bad standard for family life, too.