Celebrating St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Benedict, the father of Western Monasticism. How did he earn that title? Certainly there were other monastics before his time (c.480–543), including such well-known hermits as Cassian and Pachomius.

But what made Benedict unique was his emphasis on living in community. He said the best way to seek God was not as a lone hermit, but as one who rubbed shoulders with others. That is, the best way to find God is in one another.

Communities of men began to form under Benedict, while communities of women are credited to his twin sister, St. Scholastica. Eventually, Benedictine monasteries spread throughout Europe and, in 1846, began to make inroads into North America as well.

Benedictine monasticism is as relevant today as it was in 6th Century Europe. It’s meant for those who are willing to live in community in obedience to God, the prioress and one another. And lest anyone think we mean “blind obedience,” we must reference the Latin root, obedire, which means “to listen.”

Benedict begins his Rule with the word, “Listen,” and that is key to life in community. “Listen with the ear of the heart” to God, to the prioress, to one another. Together, we seek to open our ears, our eyes and our hearts, even when it’s uncomfortable. Together, we seek to walk toward God.

If you seek to walk toward God in community, please contact us. And Happy St. Benedict Feast Day!

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